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Top 5 Uses for Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)

Yes, this pesky, prickly, little plant has some wonderful uses. Stinging nettles appear in herbal remedies dating back to the Bronze age! Let us explore common uses as well as the science behind why this remedy is effective.


1. Arthritis

There are 3 types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Psoriatic Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative type of arthritis, which is typical of the aging process. The other types of arthritis are autoimmune in nature - meaning the body is essentially attacking itself. What these conditions have in common is inflammation.


Since nettles are rich in antioxidants, they may aid in reducing inflammation by decreasing the number of free radicals in the body. In addition to taking nettles orally, people have been using nettles topically for hundreds of years.


The theory behind why nettles work: By activating pain receptors in the skin, joint pain is masked. It may sound strange, but this is similar to the way spinal cord stimulators function for reducing pain. Here you will find one study done to evaluate the effectiveness of using nettles topically for osteoarthritis. Another study was performed the same way to evaluate relief from pain in the knee, however stinging nettles were not shown to be effective.


2. Gout

Gout is another example of a condition that is associated with inflammation. As stated in the previous section, antioxidants found in nettles may provide some relief from inflammation.


Here you will find a study detailing the role antioxidants play in lessening the symptoms of gout.


3. Eczema & Allergies

The antihistamine properties of stinging nettles are likely the reason it is used as an herbal remedy for people suffering from eczema and seasonal allergies. Antihistamines block histamine production and by doing so, aid in reducing inflammation.


For eczema, a topical poultice or cream would be a more effective remedy and for seasonal allergies, most herbalists recommend making a tea out of nettle leaves.


Here you will find a study from 2009 which shows a significant reduction in allergic rhinitis when subjects were given nettle extract.


4. Anemia

Anemia refers to the condition in which a person does not produce enough red blood cells. This condition leads to a decrease in oxygen flow throughout the body. Some of the symptoms associated with this condition include fatigue and excessive bruising.


Taking iron supplements is commonly suggested by physicians to help build more red blood cells. 1 cup of cooked stinging nettles contains 1.5 mg of iron. This is a great option for vegans!


5. Benign prostatic hyperplasia(BPH)

BPH is another term for enlarged prostate. Symptoms include difficulty urinating and urgency. This condition affects up to 90% of men by the age of 85.


Stinging nettle root has been used in Europe for many years to treat urinary symptoms. Scientists are not quite sure why stinging nettles relieve symptoms of BPH, but it's thought that the phytosterols, lignans, and polysaccharides play an important role.


In a 6 month trial of 620 participants, 81% in the nettle group showed a clinically significant improvement in symptoms vs. only 16% in the placebo group.


Here you will find another randomized double-blind study of 100 patients that notes clinically significant differences between the nettle group and the placebo group.







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