If the nettle plant has ever stung you, try not to hold a grudge, because its virtues far outweigh its offenses. Wherever nettles grow, they have been used by the local folk as a food and in herbal remedies.
Uses of Nettles
Throughout early Europe, nettles were credited with nourishing and immune-stimulating properties.
Nettle tea was used for intestinal weakness, diarrhea, and malnutrition -- uses that persist to the present time. Nettles also act as a diuretic and are useful in treating kidney weakness and bladder infections. As a diuretic, nettles can help rid the body of excess fluid (edema) in persons with weakened hearts and poor circulation.
Nettles also have been used topically to treat eczema and skin rashes and soothe arthritic and rheumatic joints. In fact, the plant has been most widely studied for its value in the treatment of arthritis and gout. When uric acid, a product of protein digestion, accumulates in the joints and tissues, a very painful inflammatory condition known as gout can result. One tablespoon of fresh nettle juice several times a day has been shown to help clear uric acid from the tissues and enhance its elimination from the body.
Fresh nettle preparations sting a bit, and it is this sting that seems to have a healing effect: The reddening and stinging of the skin appear to reduce the inflammatory processes of dermatologic conditions (such as eczema) and rheumatic conditions (such as arthritis and gout). The tiny, stinging hairs contain formic acid and a bit of histamine. (Mosquitoes and biting ants also secrete formic acid, which is responsible for the familiar stinging and itching of their bites.) Nettles also are high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and they contain small amounts of plant sterols. They are extremely rich in vital nutrients, including vitamin D, which is rare in plants; vitamins C and A; and minerals, including iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Since nettles contain numerous nourishing substances, they are used in cases of malnutrition, anemia, and rickets, and as a tonic to help repair wounds and broken bones. You can cook nettles and eat them as you would steamed spinach -- their taste and appearance are similar. Nettles are a healthy and tasty addition to scrambled eggs, pasta dishes, casseroles, and soups. You also can juice nettles and combine the juice with other fresh juices, such as carrot or apple juice, for weak, debilitated persons, such as cancer and AIDS patients. Nettle preparations also have been shown to be effective in controlling hay fever symptoms.
Nettle root has been found to increase a protein in the blood to which hormones bind. Ingesting nettle root helps to effectively reduce the amount of sex hormones that are "unbound"; that is, free to affect various tissues in the body. This can be helpful in cases of excessive hormonal stimulation, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome in women or benign prostatic hyperplasia in men.
Keep reading to learn about nettle warnings and preperations, including a recipe for nettle pesto pasta.
To learn more about treating common medical conditions at home, try the following links:
- For an overview of all of our herbal remedies, go to the main Herbal Remedies page.
- To learn more about treating medical conditions at home, visit our main Home Remedies page.
- One of the best things you can do for your health and well being is to make sure you are getting enough of the vital nutrients your body needs. Visit our Vitamins page to learn more.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.