Discover the 5 shocking health benefits of Stinging nettle.
Surely at some point in your life, you have walked on a nettle plantation, and although at first glance it looks like a harmless plant, the itching, stabbing pain, and slight burning that this bush produces, can lead you to curse it repeatedly.
But in reality, beyond that experience, the truth is that behind that bad image, the benefits of stinging nettle can help you treat various conditions.
Perhaps its most popular use, known to world cultures, is its ability to turn the leaves into nettle tea, which is a common natural allergy relief remedy. It has also been shown to benefit skin, bones, and urinary health as well.
So, how is it that this plant can be beneficial when the first contact causes you so much damage? Let’s find out.
Nettle, or Urtica dioica, also known as pica-pica in some Latin American nations, is a perennial flowering plant that has been used medicinally for centuries, dating back to ancient Greece.
Today, it can be found all over the world, but its origins are in the colder regions of Europe and Asia; the plant generally grows between two to four feet tall and blooms from June to September; grows best in nitrogen-rich soils, has heart-shaped leaves, and produces yellow or pink flowers.
While best known for the stinging reaction that occurs when the skin comes into contact with fine hairs (also known as trichomes) located on its leaves and stems, when processed and used medicinally, nettle has several benefits for health that can end up being quite interesting to you.
Most nettle products are made from the stem and leaves, but the roots also have pharmacological qualities.
The herb has anti-inflammatory qualities that can affect the treatment of many health problems; while the aerial parts of the bush have generally aided in the relief of allergy and other breathing-related problems. The roots can also alleviate urinary disorders and an enlarged prostate.
Nettle contains several chemicals, such as serotonin, histamine, and acetylcholine, some of which can be very irritating. These chemicals cause stinging irritation to the skin and are found at the base of the fine hairs of the nettle.
When brushing against, the bristle tips of the sharp hairs break off. The remaining hair turns into a small needle, capable of delivering the chemicals onto the skin. The reaction can cause pain, redness, swelling, itching, and numbness.
Despite its reputation for pain, nettle is used to help several ailments. Studies have shown that it has antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiulcer, astringent, and pain reliever capabilities.
The most proven health benefits of using nettle help with the following:
The symptoms of BPH are caused by an enlarged prostate pressing on the urethra; patients with this condition experience varying levels of increased urination, incomplete bladder emptying, painful urination, post-urination dribbling, and reduced urinary flow; recently it was shown that the benefits of stinging nettle can be effective in treating this condition.
The fact that nettle alleviates some of these symptoms remains a mystery, but many clinical studies infer that it contains chemicals that affect the hormones that cause BPH.
When taken, it also directly affects prostate cells; Another boon that has been shown is that spicy nettle root extract slows or stops the spread of prostate cancer cells.
Nettle is used as a successful general diuretic and can also help urine flow. It is also used in home remedies for bladder infections.
People with diseases such as arthritis often experience joint pain, usually in the hands, knees, hips, and spine; Stinging nettle benefits work in conjunction with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to allow patients to decrease their use of NSAIDs.
Because long-term use of NSAIDs can cause several serious side effects, this is an ideal match.
Studies also show that topical application of stinging nettle to the pain site decreases joint pain and can treat arthritis. When taken orally, nettle helps provide relief.
Another study shows the anti-inflammatory power of nettle against other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The production of histamine in the body creates adverse reactions related to allergies. Allergies cause uncomfortable congestion, sneezing, itching, and more.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of stinging nettle benefits affect several key receptors and enzymes in allergic reactions, preventing hay fever symptoms if taken when they first appear; The leaves of the plant contain histamine, which may seem counterproductive in treating allergies, but there is a history of using histamines to treat severe allergic reactions.
There is also evidence that in severe reactions, low plasma histamine levels (as opposed to high levels) are present.
Certain products that contain nettle have shown that, when applied to the skin, it can reduce bleeding during surgery.
The product, called Ankaferd blood stopper, is made up of Alpinia, licorice, thyme, common grape and nettle, and has also been shown to reduce bleeding after dental surgery.
Eczema is a dry, itchy rash that can last for a long time in patients who have it. Due to the antihistamine and anti-inflammatory qualities of nettle, it can be a natural treatment for eczema, as studies indicate, victims can use a combination of nettle taken orally to attack eczema internally, as well as a cream to relieve the itchiness and redness of the rash.
Similarly, and although this is still under investigation, it is said that the benefits of stinging nettle can help:
• Promote breastfeeding
• Stimulate hair growth
• Helps control blood sugar in patients with diabetes
• Reduce bleeding connected to gingivitis
• Treat kidney and urinary tract disorders
• Provide relief from water retention
• Prevent or treat diarrhea
• Decrease menstrual flow
• Provide asthma relief
• To heal wounds
• Treat hemorrhoids
• Stimulate contractions in pregnant women
• Treat bug bites
• Treat tendonitis
• Treat anemia
Nettle can be harvested or the products can be purchased at local health food or health food store. Before purchasing or manufacturing a nettle product, it is important to identify whether your condition requires the aerial parts or the roots, as they have different pharmacological qualities.
Nettle products come in the form of dried or freeze-dried leaves, extract, capsules, tablets, as well as a root tincture (suspension of the herb in alcohol), juice, or tea.
Among its most common uses are the following:
• Nettle tea
• Cooked and topical nettle
• Nettle capsules and tablets
Nettle is a very safe herb when used properly, although there are some precautions to take when starting to use it.
• When to harvest: Harvest nettle with thick gardening gloves to avoid being stung. It is also best to harvest young plant parts, preferably in the spring. They become more bitter after blooming and as they age.
• When used with other herbs and supplements: As with any herb or supplement, it is important to be careful when mixing to avoid adverse side effects. You should always start a herbal supplement plan under the care of your healthcare provider. Patients may have to change their doses of other supplements if they choose to take nettle.
• When you are pregnant: There is a debate as to whether pregnant women should use hives. Because nettle affects the menstrual cycle and can stimulate uterine contractions, it could lead to miscarriage. Therefore, pregnant women should not use it.
• When you are diabetic: There is evidence showing nettle’s ability to affect blood sugar and interfere with diabetes control. It can also affect the strength of diabetes medications and increase the risk of hypoglycemia.
Also, it is believed that when stinging nettle is first taken, some people have an upset stomach, diarrhea, or other mild reactions when they first take nettle. It is best to make it easy to use, starting with a small dose.