Stinging nettle is a plant. People use the root and above ground parts as medicine.
Stinging nettle is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.
Stinging nettle root is used for urination problems related to an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH]). These problems include nighttime urination, too frequent urination, painful urination, inability to urinate, and irritable bladder.
Stinging nettle root is also used for joint ailments, as a diuretic, and as an astringent.
Stinging nettle above ground parts are used along with large amounts of fluids in so-called “irrigation therapy” for urinary tract infections (UTI), urinary tract inflammation, and kidney stones (nephrolithiasis). The above-ground parts are also used for allergies, hayfever, and osteoarthritis.
Some people use the above ground parts of stinging nettle for internal bleeding, including uterine bleeding, nosebleeds, and bowel bleeding. The above ground parts are also used for anemia, poor circulation, an enlarged spleen, diabetes and other endocrine disorders, stomach acid, diarrhea and dysentery, asthma, lung congestion, rash and eczema, cancer, preventing the signs of aging, “blood purification,” wound healing, and as a general tonic.
Stinging nettle above ground parts are applied to the skin for muscle aches and pains, oily scalp, oily hair, and hair loss (alopecia).
In foods, young stinging nettle leaves are eaten as a cooked vegetable.
In manufacturing, stinging nettle extract is used as an ingredient in hair and skin products.
Stinging nettle leaf has a long history of use. It was used primarily as a diuretic and laxative in ancient Greek times.
Don’t confuse stinging nettle (Uritica dioica) with white dead nettle (Lamium album).
How does it work?
Stinging nettle contains ingredients that might decrease inflammation and increase urine output.
- Hay fever. Starting stinging nettle at the first sign of hay fever symptoms seems to help.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of stinging nettle for symptoms of BPH. Most of the studies have looked at the effects of a combination product that contains both stinging nettle and saw palmetto. One particular product (PRO 160/120, Willmar Schwabe GmbH, Germany) containing a specific extract of stinging nettle (WS 1031) 120 mg plus a specific extract of saw palmetto (WS 1473) 160 mg seems to significantly improve urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH when taken twice daily for 24-48 weeks. This combination seems to be comparable to the prescription medicationfinasteride for relieving symptoms of BPH, and may be better tolerated. However, it is not known if this benefit is due to stinging nettle, saw palmetto, or both ingredients.
On the other hand, another combination product containing stinging nettle root extract 80 mg, saw palmetto lipoidal extract 106 mg, pumpkin seed oil extract 160 mg, lemon bioflavonoid extract 33 mg, and vitamin A (100% as beta-carotene) 190 IU does not significantly improve symptoms of BPH when taken three times daily for 6 months.
- Osteoarthritis. There is evidence that taking stinging nettle leaf extract by mouth or applying it to the skin might improve symptoms of pain in people with arthritis. Stinging nettle is sometimes used in combination with conventional painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There is some evidence that this practice might let people use lower doses of the painkiller and get the same benefit.
- Water retention.
- Internal bleeding.
- Poor circulation.
- Wound healing.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & Safety
Stinging nettle is POSSIBLY SAFE when used appropriately and for less than 6 months. It might cause stomach complaints and sweating. Touching the stinging nettle plant can cause skin irritation. The safety of using stinging nettle long-term is unknown.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Stinging nettle is LIKELY UNSAFE to take during pregnancy. It might stimulate uterine contractions and cause a miscarriage. It’s also best to avoid stinging nettle if you are breast-feeding.
Diabetes: There is some evidence stinging nettle above ground parts can decrease blood sugar levels. It might increase the chance of low blood sugar in people being treated for diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use stinging nettle.
High blood pressure: There is some evidence that stinging nettle above ground parts might lower blood pressure. If you are taking blood pressure medications along with stinging nettle, your blood pressure might drop too low. If you have high blood pressure, discuss stinging nettle with your healthcare provider before starting it.
Kidney problems: The above ground parts of stinging nettle seem to increase urine flow. If you have kidney problems, discuss stinging nettle with your healthcare provider before starting it.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Lithium interacts with STINGING NETTLE
Stinging nettle might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking stinging nettle might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with STINGING NETTLE
Stinging nettle above ground parts might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking stinging nettle along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
- Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with STINGING NETTLE
Stinging nettle above ground parts seem to decrease blood pressure. Taking stinging nettle along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with STINGING NETTLE
Large amounts of stinging nettle above ground parts might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking stinging nettle along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.
- Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with STINGING NETTLE
Stinging nettle above ground parts contain large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, stinging nettle might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
The appropriate dose of stinging nettle depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for stinging nettle. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.