STINGING NETTLE Overview Information
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.
Possibly Effective for:
- Osteoarthritis. There is evidence that taking stinging nettle by mouth or applying it to the skin might reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis. Research suggests that using stinging nettle might reduce the need for pain medications.
- Hay fever. Early evidence suggests that using stinging nettle at the first signs of hay fever symptoms seems to help provide relief.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of stinging nettle, taken alone or together with other ingredients, for improving symptoms of BPH. Early evidence suggests that taking 360 mg of stinging nettle for 6-24 months improves urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH. Many 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 medication finasteride 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 80 mg of stinging nettle root extract, 106 mg of saw palmetto lipoidal extract, 160 mg of pumpkin seed oil extract, 33 mg of lemon bioflavonoid extract, and 190 IU of vitamin A (100% as beta-carotene) does not significantly improve symptoms of BPH when taken three times daily for 6 months.
- Bleeding. Some early research suggests that applying a specific product (Ankaferd blood stopper) containing alpinia, licorice, thyme, stinging nettle, and common grape vine to the skin reduces bleeding in surgery, but does not reduce time in surgery. Other early research suggests the same product reduces bleeding after dental surgery.
- Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking stinging nettle daily for 8 weeks does not affect the control of blood sugar levels in people with diabetes who are taking antidiabetes drugs.
- Gingivitis. Early research suggests that using a mouthwash containing stinging nettle, juniper, and yarrow twice daily for 3 months does not reduce plaque or bleeding in people with gingivitis.
- Water retention.
- Poor circulation.
- Wound healing.
- Other conditions.
STINGING NETTLE Side Effects & Safety
Stinging nettle is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 2 years or when applied to the skin appropriately. However, it might cause stomach complaints and sweating. Touching the stinging nettle plant can cause skin irritation.
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.
Low blood pressure: Stinging nettle above ground parts might lower blood pressure. In theory, stinging nettle might increase the risk of blood pressure dropping too low in people prone to low blood pressure. If you have low 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.
STINGING NETTLE Dosing
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.