Stinging nettle is a plant that reaches two to three feet high and features dark green leaves with sharp, stinging hairs. The chemicals on these hairs and leaves irritate the skin. However, the juice of the plant, which can be made into topical treatments and brewed into a tea, has incredible health benefits. The stinging chemicals may also help reduce pain by interfering with the body’s pain signals and decreasing inflammation when applied directly to the affected area. All parts of the plant are collected just before the flowering season, and everything from the roots to the leaves are used in herbal medicine. It can be made into a juice, powder, tincture, ointment, or infusion.1,2
Stinging Nettle Uses and Health Benefits
Herbal remedies derived from stinging nettle can have numerous benefits. They can help treat asthma, act as a diuretic, and act as an astringent. Stinging nettle also benefits hair loss problems when made into topical treatments and applied to the scalp. It’s long been used in Europe as a diuretic, which means it helps rid the body of excess water. Other stinging nettle uses include for treating eczema, anemia, gout, and urinary tract infections, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.1,2,3 Other stinging nettle benefits include for:
- Post-nasal Drip - When the nasal mucosa produces extra mucus, a stinging nettle infusion can help reduce symptoms.
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) - BPH refers to a benign enlargement of the prostate. Stinging nettle benefits BPH patients by helping manage urinary symptoms like port-urination dripping, reduce urine flow, and the constant urge to urinate.
- Osteoarthritis - Among stinging nettle uses, it be taken orally to help excrete accumulated uric acid, which contributes to severe arthritis.
- Rheumatic Pain - Applying the leaves to affected areas can help relieve joint pain.
- Allergy (Allergies) - Stinging nettle acts as an antihistamine to make it an effective herbal remedy for seasonal allergies. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce allergy symptoms.
Stinging Nettle Side Effects and Precautions
Though stinging nettle benefits are vast, avoid direct contact with the raw herb since the nettles can cause rash when it comes in contact with exposed skin. However, it’s considered safe when taken as directed. Stinging nettle side effects can include rash or hives when applied topically, diarrhea, upset stomach, sweating, or fluid retention. Do not apply stinging nettle to an open wound. Do not take stinging nettle if you pregnant; it can alter the menstrual cycle and cause miscarriage.1,2 Talk to your doctor before taking stinging nettle for BPH to ensure you receive proper diagnosis.
Stinging nettle side effects may also include effects on blood sugar, so patients with diabetes should be careful when using a stinging nettle herbal remedy. Since stinging nettle has a diuretic effect, it’s best to avoid if you have bladder or kidney issues unless directed to take by your doctor. Stinging nettle may interact with other herbs and medications, such as blood thinners.2,3 Talk to your healthcare provider before starting on a stinging nettle diet.