11 Amazing Benefits of Stinging Nettle

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Sarah Pledger (M.S., R.D.)

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The most important health benefits of stinging nettle include its ability to detoxify the body, improve metabolic efficiency, boost immunity, increase circulation, improve energy levels, manage menstruation, minimize menopausal symptoms, and aid in skin care. It has the power to protect the health of the kidney and gallbladder, lower inflammation, increase muscle mass, regulate hormonal activity, lower blood pressure, soothe hemorrhoids, and improve respiratory conditions.

What Is Stinging Nettle?

Stinging nettle plant, scientifically known as Urtica dioica, is one of the six subspecies within the Urtica genus. The native range of stinging nettle, also known as common nettle in some places, is extensive and, includes Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. Stinging nettle root and leaves have different medicinal properties. Stinging roots can be taken as a tablet, tea, tincture, extract, capsule or pill.

Some cultures even make nettle soup or include it in cheese-making to add some healthy boost to their meals. The leaves are most commonly brewed as tea, which captures many of the essential health benefits, but the plant can also be applied topically in the form of an oil extract. However, be sure to combine this natural oil with carrier oils, as it can be extremely potent.

The plant itself is relatively small, rarely growing past five feet in height. The leaves and stems in some of the subspecies have long stinging hairs that inject an array of chemicals when touched, including histamine, formic acid, serotonin, and acetylcholine. This produces an irritating, uncomfortable sensation in the skin, which is why other common names for stinging nettle are burn weed and burn nettle. However, once you boil these stems and leaves or extract the powerful oils, the stinging substances are neutralized and so that the real benefits of the plant can be enjoyed.

This herbaceous flowering plant may be considered an annoyance to many when they brush against its sharp, stinging leaves, but for thousands of years, people around the world have used stinging nettle to treat a variety of health conditions.

A red-colored bowl full of stinging nettle leaves kept on a wooden table

Stinging nettle leaves Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Stinging Nettles, blanched (Northern Plains Indians)
Serving Size :
Water [g]87.67
Energy [kcal]42
Energy [kJ]175
Protein [g]2.71
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.11
Ash [g]2.03
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]7.49
Fiber, total dietary [g]6.9
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.25
Sucrose [g]0.1
Glucose (dextrose) [g]0.07
Fructose [g]0.07
Calcium, Ca [mg]481
Iron, Fe [mg]1.64
Magnesium, Mg [mg]57
Phosphorus, P [mg]71
Potassium, K [mg]334
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.34
Copper, Cu [mg]0.08
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.78
Selenium, Se [µg]0.3
Thiamin [mg]0.01
Riboflavin [mg]0.16
Niacin [mg]0.39
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.1
Folate, total [µg]14
Folate, food [µg]14
Folate, DFE [µg]14
Choline, total [mg]17.4
Betaine [mg]21.4
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]101
Carotene, beta [µg]1150
Carotene, alpha [µg]114
Vitamin A, IU [IU]2011
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]4178
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]498.6
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits

Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of stinging nettle.

Detoxifies the Body

The wide range of beneficial nutrients found in stinging nettle makes it an ideal detoxifier for the body and it has been known to gently cleanse the body of toxins. As a diuretic, it can also ensure that the toxins being neutralized in the body are eliminated quickly, says the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. It helps improve the nutrient uptake efficiency of the gut and ensures that the digestive processes run smoothly, thereby preventing the accumulation of dangerous toxins. It also stimulates the lymphatic system, helping rid the body of excess toxins in the kidneys as well.

Aids in Pregnancy

Stinging nettle tea is often suggested for women who are undergoing excessively painful labor. In addition, it helps to protect against excessive bleeding with labor, as it can act as a coagulant. Furthermore, it will help stimulate the production of milk and make lactation easier. A study by Dr. Rachel Emma Westfall, Centre for Environmental Health Department of Biology, University of Victoria, Canada, has listed stinging nettle as one of the herbal medicines to be used in pregnancy and childbirth.

Promotes Feminine Health

Stinging nettle has a number of active components that affect feminine health. For painful premenstrual symptoms, it can give relief from cramping and bloating, while also minimizing blood flow during menstruation due to its astringent capabilities. For women undergoing menopause, stinging nettle can smooth the transition and act as a restorative aid, so the hormonal shift isn’t as dramatic in the body.

Improves Circulation

The combination of high vitamin C and iron content in stinging nettle makes it ideal for stimulating red blood cell production. Vitamin C optimizes iron uptake in the gut, while the iron is a crucial component of hemoglobin. By increasing the RBC count and the blood circulation, as well as speeding up wound recovery, the body’s extremities receive essential oxygenation to boost energy levels. For the same reason, stinging nettle is often recommended to relieve fatigue or anemia, which is characterized by general muscle weakness, exhaustion, cognitive difficulties, and headache.

Prevents Kidney Stones

Stinging nettle has long been known as a diuretic, but it also affects the kidneys in a different way. It has nephritic qualities, meaning that it can help break down stones in the kidney and gallbladder. This prevents those painful conditions from worsening or requiring those stones to be either passed or surgically removed. Also, as a diuretic, stinging nettle helps eliminate toxins quickly, thereby protecting against bladder infections and excess fluid retention (edema). Furthermore, it also aids in preventing urinary tract infection, according to a study published in  Elsevier’s Phytomedicine journal.


Stinging nettle is a stimulant and rubefacient substance, making it very effective against various inflammatory conditions. Researchers from Germany in their study have revealed that the herb can treat rheumatic arthritis and chronic muscle pain.  Furthermore, stinging nettle tea or herbal supplementation can also effectively treat gout.

Strengthens Bones

Although we don’t hear much about boron, it is still an important mineral found in stinging nettle. Boron has been linked to maintaining calcium content in our bones, which means that stinging nettle can help to slow the onset of osteoporosis. When you combine that effect with the hormone-regulating impact that stinging nettle has, which helps to regulate and monitor bone health as well, it seems like this herb truly can do it all.

Health benefits of stinging nettle infographic

Some cultures even make nettle soup or include it in cheese-making to add some healthy boost to their meals.

Treats Respiratory Issues

Stinging nettle has also been connected to the treatment of a variety of respiratory conditions, including hay fever, asthma, and other seasonal allergies. Also, certain extract combinations from stinging nettle can significantly reduce allergic reactions. This is confirmed in a study conducted by  Dr. Randall Alberte, et al., Chief Scientific Officer of HerbalScience Group LLC, US. Regular consumption of its tea has been associated with curing asthma in Australia for generations.

Protects Heart Health

It only makes sense that this amazing cure-all herb would also be able to positively affect the heart. Research has revealed that regular consumption of stinging nettle tea can help to lower systolic blood pressure and relieve tension and stress on the cardiovascular system.

Improves Prostate Health

Prostate enlargement and other prostate problems are a serious issue to all men as they age and stinging nettle has proven to be an effective means of preventing prostate growth. However, due to the chemical pathways that this treatment takes, stinging nettle root can only prevent the prostate enlargement, not reverse or reduce it. Palmetto along with nettle root can also reduce the urge of frequent urination.

Skin Care

When the extracts are applied to the skin, stinging nettle has been proven to reduce the severity of acne and can even prevent bacterial infections. Due to its antioxidant properties, it can also speed healing, reduce the appearance of scars and blemishes, and promote anti-aging effects to reduce wrinkles and age spots.

Other Benefits

Stinging nettle extract supplements have been suggested for reducing nausea and diarrhea that comes with the menstruation and menopausal effects. It can also soothe ulcers and hemorrhoids.

Word of Caution: While many of these benefits seem miraculous, it is important to remember that some of these remedies for high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and menstruation can also have a flip-side. Before adding such a potent and comprehensive herbal remedy to your diet, be sure to consult a physician and ensure that you won’t be complicating any ongoing treatments.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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