Stinging nettle is used for diabetes and osteoarthritis. It is sometimes used for urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney stones, enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), muscle pain, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific research to support these uses.
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 (Urtica dioica) with white dead nettle (Lamium album).
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Diabetes. Taking stinging nettle leaf preparations for 8-12 weeks seems to reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. The effect of stinging nettle on A1c in people with diabetes is unclear.
- Osteoarthritis. Taking stinging nettle leaf preparations by mouth or applying it to the skin might reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis. Taking stinging nettle leaf preparations by mouth might also reduce the need for pain medications.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Hay fever. Early research suggests that using stinging nettle above ground parts at the first signs of hay fever symptoms may help provide relief.
- Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). There is conflicting evidence about the effects of stinging nettle on symptoms of BPH. Some research shows that taking stinging nettle daily for 2-12 months improves urinary tract symptoms and the flow of urine in people with BPH. But symptom improvement may depend on the specific stinging nettle product used. Many studies have evaluated a particular combination product that contains stinging nettle and saw palmetto (PRO 160/120 by Willmar Schwabe GmbH). Some research suggests that taking this product by mouth can improve urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH. This combination seems to be comparable to the prescription medication finasteride for relieving symptoms of BPH, and it may be better tolerated. But it's not known if this benefit of this product is due to stinging nettle, saw palmetto, or both ingredients. Other products containing stinging nettle root extract or a combination of stinging nettle root, saw palmetto lipoidal extract, pumpkin seed oil, lemon bioflavonoid, and beta-carotene don't seem to improve most BPH symptoms.
- High levels of testosterone in women (hyperandrogenism). Early research suggests that taking a stinging nettle root preparation for about 4 months is not more effective than standard therapy for improving menstrual cycle conditions, oily skin, or acne in women with high testosterone levels.
- A mild form of gum disease (gingivitis).
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis).
- Heart failure.
- Infections of the kidney, bladder, or urethra (urinary tract infections or UTIs).
- Joint pain.
- Kidney stones.
- Male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
- Muscle pain.
- Poor circulation.
- Rough, scaly skin on the scalp and face (seborrheic dermatitis).
- Water retention.
- Wound healing.
- Other conditions.
When applied to the skin: Stinging nettle is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin in appropriate amounts. Touching the stinging nettle plant can cause skin irritation.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Diabetes: There is some evidence that stinging nettle above ground parts can decrease blood sugar levels. This might increase the chance of blood sugar levels becoming too low in people being treated for diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.
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.
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.
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.
Be cautious with this combination
- For diabetes: 500 mg of stinging nettle leaf extract has been taken three times per day for 12 weeks. Also, 3.3 grams of stinging nettle leaf has been taken three times daily for 8 weeks. A combination product containing 200 mg of stinging nettle, 200 mg of milk thistle, and 200 mg of frankincense taken three times per day for 3 months has also been used.
- For osteoarthritis: 9 grams of crude stinging nettle leaf has been used daily. Also, an infusion containing 50 mg of stinging nettle leaf has been taken along with 50 mg of diclofenac daily for 14 days. A specific combination product (Rosaxan, medAgil Gesundheitsgesellschaft mbH) containing stinging nettle, rose hip, devil's claw, and vitamin D taken by mouth as 40 mL daily has been used for 12 weeks.
- For osteoarthritis: Fresh stinging nettle leaf has been applied to painful joints for 30 seconds once per day for one week. Also a specific cream containing stinging nettle leaf extract (Liquid Phyto-Caps Nettle Leaf by Gaia Herbs) has been applied twice daily for 2 weeks.
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