25 Amazing Benefits of Nettle Tea & Its Side Effects

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Nettle tea is a delicious and beneficial beverage that helps boost the immune system, relieve pain and inflammation, protect the heart and optimize digestion. Nettle tea can be quite a strong beverage, and has a rapid effect on the body, primarily due to the flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamins, and minerals found in the plant.

In folk medicine, it has also been thought to give relief from urinary problems, soothe allergies and hives, gout, and improve skin, hair, and bone health. 

Stinging nettle (another name for this tea) is rich in vitamins A, B, C, D, and K. As compared to leafy green vegetables, it is richer in calcium and magnesium. The leaves are protein-dense and equivalent to spinach; the same leaves can be dried and steeped into a tea. It also contains iodine, iron, silicon, and potassium. The antioxidants alone are enough to make it healthy food, but the specific effects of this plant that have been discovered over the years make it even more attractive to natural healers and practitioners.

Watch Video: 8 Surprising Benefits Of Nettle Tea

Health Benefits of Nettle Tea

The powerful health benefits of nettle tea include the following:

Fights Oxidative Stress

Nettle tea has strong antifungal and antibacterial properties. A 2003 study suggests that nettle tea is rich in carotenoids. The flavonoids and carotenoids found in it, along with the high concentration of vitamin C, make this beverage an effective immune system booster. By aiding up your immune system from fighting oxidative stress, nettle tea can work as your first line of immune defense.

Reduces Pain & Inflammation

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology confirmed that there are natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory compounds in nettles. Whether using this tea to soothe the pain of a pulled muscle, a sore back, a headache, or any bump or bruise, you can often find relief before you finish your cup. External application of nettle tea can be just as effective –more direct–but these effects are also felt when the tea is consumed.

Relieves Urinary Tract Infections

A 2016 study titled “Novel Strategies in the Prevention and Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections“, suggests that nettle has diuretic and antibacterial properties. Therefore, drinking nettle tea aids in the removal of toxins and makes an excellent remedy for bladder infections, urinary tract infection (UTI), and edema (water retention).

Lowers Blood Pressure Levels

Nettle tea contains phenolic compounds with diuretic properties, which aid in reducing systolic blood pressure. A study published in The Scientific World Journal shows that regular consumption of fresh nettle tea can help to treat hypertension.

Improves Digestion

An ethnobotanical survey published in the Ethnopharmacology lists nettle among the wild plants widely used to treat various gastrointestinal diseases. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of nettle tea makes it great for handling digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarrhea, and general stomach upset caused by bacterial imbalances in the gut. It can help kill intestinal worms and parasites as well, bringing your gastrointestinal health back on track and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Many people suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which can affect a number of urinary and sexual aspects of their life, and there are a few reliable treatments for it. An eight-week study on BPH patients shows that nettle is effective in reducing the BPH symptoms. as compared with a placebo. The patients also considered nettle tea to be a safer option compared to other drugs. Nettle tea improves prostate health, while also increasing the levels of testosterone in the body. This helps with certain sexual side effects of the condition.

A cup of nettle tea with fresh nettle leaves

Improves Kidney Health

The most promising and well-researched benefit of nettle tea has to do with its effect on the kidneys. Nettle is a powerful diuretic. This means nettle tea can help stimulate healthy, consistent urination. This is confirmed in a report by on botanical medicines used for kidney disease. Stinging nettle is often used under medical supervision in a combination with other medicinal herbs such as saw palmetto and pumpkin to treat kidney and urination problems. It aids in the removal of kidney stones since it flushes out excess uric acid from the blood.

Hives

Stinging nettle is used in homeopathy in Germany to reduce allergies such as hives (urticaria), a common skin rash triggered by a reaction to medicine, food, stress, or other irritants. This is mentioned in a report by the European Medicines Agency, a union that evaluates all European medicinal products. The leaves contain flavonoids, such as kaempferol and quercetin, which help subside the amount of histamine produced in the body.

Skin Care

Nettle tea has traditionally been used for skin care in many parts of the world. The antioxidants contained in the tea can help speed up healing and prevent scarring issues on the skin. According to a study published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, the spicules of the nettle leaves are easily absorbed into the skin. Therefore, you can either drink the tea to get these effects, or allow the tea to cool, then topically apply it to the skin with a cloth and ensure it stays on for maximum absorption.

Protects Heart Health

Histamine, present in stinging nettle, has anti-inflammatory effects on the body, which can help reduce the tension in arteries and blood vessels. This promotes healthier circulation and oxygenates the body properly, thus lowering your chances of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications.

Reduces Allergic Reactions

The chemicals and organic compounds found in nettle also work as anti-histamines if consumed as a tea. This anti-inflammatory response of nettle is confirmed in an in vitro study performed by Dr. Ryan C Fink, University of Miami, US, in synergy with Herbal Science Group. So, if you are suffering from allergic rhinitis and want to counter the alarm of your immune system, a cup of this tea may do the trick! However, if you are suffering from a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, call your physician immediately.

Note: When stinging nettles hit the skin before being soaked down to a neutral state, they cause an intense allergic reaction on the affected site.

Relieves Osteoarthritis & Gout

Phytotherapeutic compounds found in nettle tea have a beneficial effect on joint pain, osteoarthritis, and gout. These compounds include plant oils, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, and fatty acids. Additionally, the extracts of nettle leaves can inhibit the inflammatory cascade in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, as mentioned in a study published in The Journal of Rheumatology.

Diabetes Management

Nettle tea improves glycemic control in type 2 diabetics and helps stimulate insulin secretion. Drinking the tea can safely lower glucose levels, both during fasting and after eating, and it may improve glycemic control in those diabetic requiring insulin therapy.

Increases Libido

Nettle tea can be a powerful sexual stimulant. Lignans, found in stinging nettle, combine with the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) to promote testosterone levels in men. It is thought that some of the nettle tea’s sexual health benefits include increased sex drive, stamina, and the prevention of premature ejaculation.

Promotes Weight Loss

Nettle tea is a powerful detoxifying drink due to its diuretic properties and its ability to flush out toxins from the body. Drinking a cup of nettle tea can increase nutrients and optimize metabolism, thus helping in weight loss.

Prevents Osteoporosis

There are many minerals found in nettle tea, which include calcium, magnesium, and iron. Not only do the minerals make this variety of tea excellent for people suffering with deficiencies, such as that in anemia, but may also help prevent the gradual breakdown of bone mineral density as we age.

Prevents Eczema & Acne

In folk medicine, it is thought that the high levels of chlorophyll in nettle leaves used in the tea have alkalizing properties, which help flush out toxins and keep the skin blemish-free. Furthermore, the analgesic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory abilities of nettle tea can help relieve symptoms of acne, eczema, and other irritations that harm your skin.

Reduces Hay Fever

Drinking nettle tea can help treat hay fever, and reduce allergic symptoms such as sneezing and itching and providing relief. Hay fever is a common allergic reaction caused by pollen or dust.

Fights Respiratory Issues

Nettle tea has histamine blocking abilities and anti-inflammatory properties which help in providing relief from asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, and other respiratory issues. It is also an expectorant and decongestant and these properties may aid in treating coughs and cold.

Increases Lactation

Traditionally, nettle tea has been used as a galactagogue to help stimulate milk production and increase milk supply in lactating mothers. It is usually used in combination with other herbs. However, it is best to consult a doctor or a lactation expert if you are a mother or mom-to-be before using any new herbs.

Reduces Puffy Eyes

An excellent home remedy for puffy eyes, nettle tea removes excess water from the body. You can also splash the cool nettle tea liquid on your eyes, as it has anti-allergic properties. However, medical supervision is advised while applying any herb to your eyes.

Styptic 

Stinging nettle tea, with its high vitamin K content, has the ability to reduce bleeding during surgery. Fresh leaves are more effective than dried leaves as the latter has much lesser vitamin K. It can also reduce nose bleeds, vaginal bleeding, and bleeding piles.

Relieves Menstrual Problems

One of the uses of nettle tea has been due to its styptic properties; it may reduce excessive bleeding during menstruation. It has analgesic properties and may aid in easing menstrual pain and cramps.

Source of Antioxidants

A study showed that an aqueous extract of nettle had powerful antioxidant properties, much higher than alpha-tocopherol. It also showed antimicrobial, anti-ulcer, as well as painkilling properties.

Blood Tonic

Nettle tea is high in flavonoids and chlorophyll which according to some, make it a powerful blood purifier. The beverage is often used as a stimulating blood tonic due to its diuretic and detoxifying properties. It also helps in the production of hemoglobin in red blood cells as well as blood coagulation. The claim as a blood purifier is used generally in folk medicine but does not have sufficient research to support the claim.

Hair & Nail Care

Nettle has been traditionally used to prevent hair loss, eliminate dandruff, and to eliminate hair lice. Intake of nettle tea helps increase thick and lustrous hair growth. It also strengthens nails and can be an effective treatment for brittle nails.

What is Nettle Tea?

Found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, stinging nettle is the origin of nettle tea and has the scientific name Urtica dioica. The tea is made by steeping either fresh or dried leaves in boiling water. The flowers of the plant are also commonly used in tea preparation. The nettle plant is an anti-asthmatic, antifungal, antibacterial, an astringent, a depurative, a diuretic, a galactagogue, a homeostatic, a hypoglycemic, a blood purifier, and a stimulating tonic.

What makes this beverage particularly interesting is that five of the six main varieties of this plant are covered with small spines and trichomes, which effectively deliver histamines and other irritants into the skin when they come in contact with humans and other animals. This defensive mechanism prevents people from eating or picking plants. If you soak stinging nettles in water, the chemicals causing painful stings are neutralized, making the plant harmless.

How to make Nettle Tea?

While nettle tea is easily available in departmental stores or across several e-commerce platforms, it can also be harvested and grown in your garden. You may have to experiment with the ratio of fresh leaves to water, according to your preference, but the default proportion would one cup of nettle leaves to every 2 cups of water. Let’s take a look at a simple way of making the tea at home.

Print Recipe
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Nutritious Nettle Tea Recipe

A beverage that's satisfyingly refreshing, with a hay-like texture and a slightly bitter taste!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Beverage
Cuisine: American
Keyword: nettle tea
Appliance: Stove
Servings: 2 people
Author: Ishani Bose

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh nettle leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp honey/sugar (optional)

Instructions

  • To make nettle tea, first, bring water to a boil on the stove. 
  • To the boiling water, add the fresh nettle leaves and reduce the heat down to medium. 
  • Let the leaves steep in the water for five to seven minutes. If you want the flavor to be stronger, allow the leaves to steep in water for a longer duration. 
  • If the flavor is too potent for your liking, you can add a spoonful of honey or sugar to enhance the taste. Once done, serve the tea warm and enjoy the hot, nutritional beverage.
    A cup of nettle tea with fresh nettle leaves

Notes

If you're using fresh nettle leaves, use only a cup of the leaves for every 2 cups of water. If you're using dried nettle leaves, only add a tsp for every 8 ounces of water. 

Side effects of Nettle Tea

While nettle tea does have many health benefits, there are some concerns. These include:

  • Pregnancy issues: It is not advised for pregnant women as it can result in hormonal fluctuations that may be dangerous for fetal development. It can also cause uterine contractions and miscarriage, too.
  • Kidney stones: If you are harvesting wild nettle leaves for personal use, make sure not to wait too late in the season, as certain harmful compounds increase in concentration at that time, namely those that can harm your kidneys and increase the likelihood of developing kidney stones.
  • Blood sugar: It is best avoided if you are diabetic or hypoglycemic as it lowers blood sugar levels.
  • Lowers blood pressure: If you have heart disorders or are taking blood pressure medication, it is best to check with your doctor before having nettle tea.
  • Blood thinners: Nettle tea has high levels of vitamin K and can interfere with anticoagulant medications (blood thinners).
  • Stomach problems: It can cause nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.
  • Insomnia: Nettle tea should not be taken with sedatives as an excess of it causes drowsiness.
  • Water pills: Due to its diuretic abilities, nettle tea is best avoided by people who are on water pills for edema as they may experience too much fluid loss (and subsequent dehydration)

Before adding any new herbal remedy to your dietary regimen, it is always a good idea to speak with your doctor first.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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