Herbal Profile: Stinging Nettle

Posted by Emily Rubeo on

This is the first of a series of herbal monographs I have written up to share with you all. There will be many more to come!

What is stinging nettle?!  One of the powerhouses here and an herb I don't think gets enough praise. I will never be without Stinging Nettle in my apothecary.

Common name: Stinging Nettle
Botanical name: Urtica dioica
Parts used: Young leaves, seeds and roots
Energetics: Cooling, drying and nourishing
Key constituents: Histamine, formic acid, chlorophyll, Calcium, potassium, carotene, vitamin K, flavanoids, glucoquinine, iron, vitamin C, beta-carotene
Plant properties and actions: Nutritive, anti-allergenic, adaptogen, astringent, anti-inflammatory, mast cell stabilizer, diuretic, tonic, hemostatic
Plant uses: arthritis, eczema, prostate enlargement, low metabolism, weak hair/teeth/bones, hypothyroid, fatigue, low lactation, seasonal allergies, urinary tract infection, asthma, amenorrhea, menstrual cramps, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, bug bites, burns, dermatitis, hives
Safety: Stinging Nettle is regarded as generally safe for all ages with no known adverse affects.
Medicinal properties:
  • Nourishing to the whole body: Nettle is used for a very wide variety of ailments and is recommended for supporting overall good health. They are a nourishing herbal food high in a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, protein) Nettles help create energy and build healthy bones, joints, teeth, blood, skin and hair. Stinging nettle contains about 2900 mg of calcium for each 100 grams of dried leaf. The form of calcium found in nettle is well absorbed by the body and is accompanied by the presence of magnesium. Magnesium is crucial for bone health and the key to proper absorption of calcium. Nettle also contains boron which helps our bones retain calcium. It should come as no surprise that this herb is excellent for osteoarthritis.
  • Women's Health: Nettle is also high in iron and wonderful for women's health issues as it is easy on the stomach unlike many iron supplements. Nettle infusions also may help with menstrual cramping. They are an excellent remedy for anemia, low blood pressure and general weakness. The increase the body's excretion of uric acid which may help with rheumatism and gout.
  • Allergy Relief: Possibly due to the plant's histamine content, they are also excellent for reduction in seasonal allergy symptoms. Nettle reduces the inflammatory response when taken daily. It also contains quercetin (anti-inflammatory) that opens up constricted nasal and bronchial passages making it excellent for asthma sufferers as well. Quercetin also helps drive zinc into the cells. Some herbalists contest there's no better herb for the treatment of hay fever symptoms.
  • Detoxing: Nettle can also be used for detoxing by supporting the main detox organs (liver, lungs and urinary tract). It is often used to treat signs of poor elimination such as eczema and constipation. Stinging nettle is also a diuretic and can be used for urinary tract infections.  It is also used to strengthen the lungs and is helpful to those with asthma.
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes: In clinical trials nettle was used with people who have insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. They showed significant improvement in their fasting blood glucose. It has a myriad of positive effects on metabolism, inflammation and hyperglycemia.
  • Urtication: This is a relatively lost practice of rubbing fresh stinging nettle leaves on the skin. Yes, it burns and stings slightly depending on your sensitivity but it also brings great relief to arthritis!
  • Prostate Health: Nettle contains compounds that may inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a potent androgen hormone associated with prostate enlargement, low testosterone levels in older men, and hair loss. Most of this conversion occurs in the prostate and hair follicles. By reducing the conversion of testosterone, these areas do not feel the androgenizing effects that result when DHT is present.
Growing Stinging Nettle: Nettle are a hearty perennial with a tendency to be invasive. They thrive in moist but not waterlogged soil with a semi-shaded environment. They start well from seed and can be transplanted or directly sowed in early spring. You can also easily propagate them from runners found wildly. They grow wild in most areas in The US and Canada
Given all these amazing applications, it now won't surprise you to find where we use nettles..
Where I get the Nettles for use in my products: https://mountainroseherbs.com/nettle-leaf



Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman

The Botanical Safety Handbook

The Modern Herbal Dispensatory: A Medicine Making Guide, Thomas Easley and Steven Horne

Alchemy of Herbs, Rosalee De La Foret

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  • Loved reading! As someone who has zero knowledge passed the basics of what an herb is, these are super informative and well thought out for anyone to read. Hope to read more in the future!

    Tara on

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