Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle
Some of the most important health benefits of stinging nettle include its ability to detoxify the body, improve metabolic efficiency, boost immune health, increase circulation, improve energy levels, manage menstruation, minimize menopausal symptoms, heal skin conditions, protect kidney and gallbladder health, lower inflammation, increase muscle mass, regulate hormonal activity, prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure, soothe hemorrhoids, and improve respiratory conditions.
This herbaceous flowering plant may be considered as 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 wide variety of health conditions. The scientific name of stinging nettle is Urtica dioica, and the plant is one of six subspecies within the Urtica genus. The native range of stinging nettle, also known as common nettle in some places, is extensive, including Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. 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 some of the 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 the real benefits of the plant can be enjoyed. Some cultures even make nettle soup or include it in cheese-making to add some healthy boosts to their meals. Stinging nettle leaves are most commonly brewed as a tea, which captures many of the most 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. As more and more research is done on stinging nettle, it is becoming even more popular, as the diverse range of its proven medicinal effects is impressive, to say the least. Now, let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of stinging nettle.
Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle
Detoxify the Body: The wide range of beneficial nutrients found in stinging nettle make it an ideal detoxifier for the body and it has been known to gently cleanse the body of toxins. As a diuretic substance, stinging nettle can also ensure that those toxins being neutralized in the body are then eliminated quickly. Stinging nettle is also known as an alterative, meaning that it can improve the nutrient uptake efficiency of the gut and ensure that the digestive processes run smoothly, thereby preventing the accumulation of dangerous toxins. It also stimulates the lymphatic system, helping to rid the body of excess toxins in the kidneys as well.
Pregnancy Aid: Stinging nettle tea is often suggested for women who are undergoing excessively painful labor, and it can also help protect against excessive bleeding, as it can act as a coagulant. Furthermore, stinging nettle will help to stimulate the production of milk and make lactation easier for the newborn.
Menstruation and Menopause: Stinging nettle has a number of active components that affect feminine health. For painful premenstrual symptoms, stinging nettle can soothe cramping and bloating, while also minimizing blood flow during menstruation due to its astringent capabilities. For women undergoing menopause, stinging nettle is also useful as it can smooth the transition and act as a restorative so the hormonal shift isn’t as dramatic in the body.
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 iron is a crucial component of hemoglobin. By increasing the RBC count in the body, circulation increases, wound healing speeds up, and 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 headaches.
Kidney and Gallbladder Health: Stinging nettle has long been known as a diuretic substance, but it also affects the kidneys in a different way. Stinging nettle has nephridic qualities, meaning that it can help to break down stones in the kidney and gallbladder, preventing those painful conditions from worsening or requiring those stones to be either passed or surgically removed. Also, as a diuretic, stinging nettle helps to eliminate toxins quickly, thereby protecting against bladder infections and excess fluid retention (edema).
Anti-inflammatory Activity: Stinging nettle is a stimulant and rubefacient substance, making it very effective against various inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or chronic muscle pain. Research has shown that stinging nettle tea or herbal supplementation can effectively treat gout, soothe muscle pain, and reduce symptoms of arthritis.
Osteoporosis and Bone Health: Although we don’t hear much about boron, it is still an important mineral element in our bodies that can be found in stinging nettle. Boron has been scientifically linked to maintaining calcium content in our bones, which means that stinging nettle can help 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.
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. Studies have shown that certain extract combinations from stinging nettle can significantly reduce allergic reactions in patients. Regular consumption of stinging nettle tea has been used to treat asthma in Australia for generations.
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 lower systolic blood pressure and relieve tension and stress on the cardiovascular system.
Prostate Health: Prostate enlargement and cancer are both serious factors to consider as men age, but 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 can only prevent the growth, not reverse it once the growth factor and testosterone-stimulation has occurred.
Gastrointestinal Health: Stinging nettle extract supplements have been suggested for reducing nausea and diarrhea, and as with the menstruation and menopausal effects, stinging nettle can also soothe ulcers and hemorrhoids.
Skin Health: 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 of various types. Due to its antioxidant properties, it can also speed healing, reduce the appearance of scars and blemishes, and promote anti-aging to reduce wrinkles and age spots.
A Final Word of Warning: While many of these health 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. For example, if you have low blood pressure, low blood sugar, or are early in your pregnancy, stinging nettle can be dangerous. Before adding such a potent and comprehensive herbal remedy to your normal diet, be sure to consult a physician and ensure that you won’t be complicating any ongoing treatments or conditions.