For many people stinging nettles or urtica dioica are weeds with hairs and spines on the leaves and stems that can cause rashes when they come in contact with the skin. But did you know that nettle leaf and nettle root have been used for many centuries traditionally and in folk medicine to treat various conditions and diseases?
Research found that nettle herb contain quercetin. Other beneficial compounds present in nettle plant are acetylcholine, beta carotene, chlorophyll, dietary fiber, flavonol glycosides, lignans, lectins, histamine, sitosterol, serotonin, tannins and vitamins A, C, D and K. There are also calcium, iron, manganese and potassium. It was also found that nettles produce a diuretic effect and is used as a natural laxative. Nettle also has the ability to provide immune support.
Quercetin is a flavonoid and is a powerful antioxidant. It has anti histamine, antimicrobial, and anti inflammatory properties. This flavonoid also has the ability to block the formation of cataracts, relieve respiratory problems such as asthma, fights allergies, reduce bad cholesterol level and thus reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and a heart attack. It also may help reduce chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that happens due to Crohn's disease. Quercetin is also considered a phytoestrogen. It may help increase bone density.
No wonder stinging nettles were used in folk medicine to support clear eyes and noses and also in the treatment of allergic rhinitis or hay fever. It was also used to treat anemia, bleeding, gout and joint pains.
The medicinal uses of stinging nettles are now still valid. It is very effective in treating allergies and hay fever. Taking nettle extract produce quick allergy relief without any side effects. Nettle herb is also beneficial for the skin. The extract is used as a remedy to treat skin conditions such as acne, burns, eczema, itching, insect bites and rashes. Even though this nettle plant stings, it actually soothes when the nettle extract is applied topically on the skin by reducing the inflammation.
Nettle extract are also used in the treatment of arthritis, depression, high blood pressure, rheumatism, sore throat and urinary tract infection, Some studies showed that nettle root extract has the potential to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostate enlargement. Nettle root may help treat gout and arthritis because the plant compounds are able to improve the excretion of uric acid.
The young nettle shoots are edible. When soaked, steamed or cooked, the stinging chemicals disappear. One of the ways to enjoy fresh nettle leaves is to make a nettle omelet.
If you are considering taking stinging nettle as a supplement, it is available in capsules, liquid extract, nettle oil, powdered form and tinctures from the nettle leaf and nettle root. Loose and dried nettle leaves and roots are also available. Another form available is nettle tea. Nettle leaf extracts are also used in shampoo for oily hair. Nettle extract is also used as one of the ingredients in eye care products, hair loss product, skin care products such as soap, tonic for immune support and with saw palmetto for prostrate health.
If you follow the dosage or aren't allergic to the herb, there isn't any nettle side effects. The possible stinging nettle side effects are fluid retention, rashes and stomach upset.
If you get stung by stinging nettle, soak a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide, place it on the affected area and hold it with a tape or band aid. Another method is to use cellophane tape on the affected area and pull it. This will help remove the nettle hairs on your skin.