Learn to Love the Stinging Nettle
The stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a much unloved plant, primarily because of its sting but it is also seen by many gardeners as an ugly weed with roots which are very determined to cling on. Once it has taken hold it can be difficult to remove.
However it provides a cornucopia of benefits. It tastes great in stews, soups and teas and it can be used to make clothing and makeup. In the garden, careful planting can attract aphid killing ladybirds, it makes a highly nutritious plant food and it can add beauty to a wild cottage garden look. But its medicinal properties are why this plant should be really loved and here are just a few of its benefits:
Hayfever (allergic rhinitis) is a common reason for taking nettle extracts. A double blind placebo based study by P Mittman in 1990 showed some benefits after only one week (most herbalists suggest taking protective herbs for hayfever over a much longer period). A more recent in-vitro study by B Roschek 2009 stated that bioactives have been identified in nettle that contribute to the inhibition of pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis.
Osteoarthritis C Randall et al 2000 found participants using nettle leaves in a random placebo based trial reported significantly less pain and disability compared to those who used the placebo after one week.
Antioxidant Gulcin et al 2004 reported that nettles contain phenolic compounds, especially flavonoids and stated nettle has powerful antioxidant properties and is effective at free radical scavenging
Anti-Inflammatory (rheumatoid arthritis) numerous studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of nettles and its benefits for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis including Riehemann et al 1999 and Johnson et al 2013 although the latter did suggest that oil based extracts might be even more effective than tinctures!
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia a random control placebo based trial by Ghorbanibirgani et al 2012 stated nettle is recommended to be used more in treatment of BPH patients, given its beneficial effects in reducing BPH patients’ symptoms and its safety in terms of its side effects
Anti-Toxin Patients often suffer severe side effects from Cisplatin (CP) which is a widely used cytotoxic in the treatment of cancer. A study by Ozkol et al found that doses of nettle extract performed a significant preventive role against CP toxicity
Nettle should not be taken by people who show a major allergic reaction to stinging nettles. If taken for benign prostatic hyperplasia that should occur under medical supervision in order to monitor the state of the prostate gland.