Nettle leaf tea is derived from the leaves of the common nettle plant, also known as the stinging nettle. The scientific name for this plant is Urtica dioica. The ‘stinging’ moniker is apt, as handling the plant with exposed skin is known to produce a burning sensation that persists after contact.
Nettle leaf tea has long had a healthy reputation. It’s been an important part of traditional medicine in several cultures around the world. In Europe, it was used to treat people with lung disorders. In North America, some Native American communities used it to help with pregnancy and childbirth.
Nettle leaf tea is commonly bought already in tea bags, though some enthusiasts make their own. It has a grassy, earthy flavor.
In terms of health benefits, nettle root has received quite a bit more attention of late than nettle leaf tea. However, there have been a number of studies that have looked into the specific health properties of nettle leaf tea and provided a better understanding of its benefits.
The majority of any tea is always water. As such, the nutrients found in tea are generally dilute. The same is true for nettle leaf tea.
A single teabag of nettle leaf tea, when brewed, delivers approximately:
- Calories: 1
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
While nettle leaves contain a range of vitamins and minerals, their concentration is significantly diminished in tea. In nettle leaf tea, two common vitamins found are:
Potential Health Benefits of Nettle Leaf Tea
Modern research on nettle leaf tea has looked into a number of potential benefits. These benefits are thought to be tied to the biologically active compounds contained in the nettle plant. Nettle leaves in particular are a source of terpenoids, carotenoids, fatty acids, and more.
Some of the specific health benefits attributed to nettle leaf tea include:
Osteoarthritis Joint Pain Relief
Nettles have been shown to alleviate some of the joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. They can be used safely alongside nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), allowing individuals to decrease the overall amount of NSAIDs utilized. Research was specifically conducted on stewed nettle leaves. Nettle leaf tea requires further testing to determine if it also provides joint pain relief.
Nettle leaf extracts have shown anti-diabetic activity in animal studies. Diabetes-induced rats demonstrated improving blood sugar levels upon administration of nettle leaf extract. They also exhibited lowered cholesterol levels.
Nettle leaf tea has been shown to potentially lower blood pressure. Some doses of nettle have also been shown to have antiplatelet effects in animal studies.
Potential Risks of Nettle Leaf Tea
Nettle leaf tea and other portions of the nettle plant are widely considered to be safe to ingest. That said, some mild side effects have been reported. The most common complaints relate to digestion.
Nettle products have occasionally been reported to cause stomach upset (nettle root) and diarrhea (nettle juice). Nettle leaf tea has not been reported as a specific cause of these symptoms.