Category: Medicines - plant based
Introduction and description
Stinging nettles can be classified as both a food and a medicine, but I have placed them in the medicine category for convenience.
Urtica dioica, often called common nettle or stinging nettle (although not all plants of this species sting), is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant, native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, and is the best-known member of the nettle genus Urtica. The species is divided into six subspecies, five of which have many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on the leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles, injecting histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by humans and other animals. The plant has a long history of use as a medicine, as a food source and as a source of fibre.
Urtica dioica has a flavour similar to spinach and cucumber when cooked and is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. In its peak season, nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable.
All the following are claims made for nettle, the observations give you the pubmed science behind the claims, where indeed the folk remedies have proved to be true.
Nettle leaf is a herb that has a long tradition of use as an adjuvant remedy in the treatment of arthritis in Germany. Nettle leaf extract "contains active compounds that reduce TNF-α and other inflammatory cytokines. It has been demonstrated that nettle leaf lowers TNF-α levels by potently inhibiting the genetic transcription factor that activates TNF-α and IL-1B in the synovial tissue that lines the joint".
Urtica dioica has also been used in traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or fresh leaves) in the treatment of disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, locomotor system, skin, cardio-vascular system, haemorrhage, flu, rheumatism and gout!
Nettle is used in shampoo to control dandruff and is said to make hair 'more glossy, which is why some farmers include a handful of nettles with cattle feed'.
Nettle root extracts have been extensively studied in human clinical trials as a treatment for symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). 'These extracts have been shown to help relieve symptoms compared to placebo both by themselves and when combined with other herbal medicines'.
Because it contains 3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran, certain extracts of the nettle are used by bodybuilders in an effort to increase free testosterone by occupying sex-hormone binding globulin.
As Old English stiðe, nettle is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century. Nettle is believed to be a galactagogue, a substance that promotes lactation.
Extracts of Urtica dioica leaves may help with glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients that need to use insulin.
Only use the young leaves. After the stinging nettle enters its flowering and seed setting stages the leaves develop gritty particles called "cystoliths", which can irritate the urinary tract.
Gather the young leaves fresh. Soaking stinging nettles in water or cooking will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging.
The leaves can also be dried and may then be used to make a tisane, as can also be done with the nettle's flowers.
Cooked nettles can be added to stews, eaten as a puree, aded to polenta, used in soups, and added to pestos and used with pasta.
In the Kumaon & Gargwal region of Northern India, stinging nettles are known as sisnu, kandeli and bicchu-booti (बिच्छू-बूटी in Hindi) respectively. They are also found in abundance in Kashmir, where they are called soi. Stinging netles here are a very popular vegetable and cooked with Indian spices.
Nettles are sometimes used in cheese making, for example in the production of Yarg and as a flavouring in varieties of Gouda.
How it works
see the observations. The effects are all healing effects, I have ignored the fact it can sting.
- Bee parasites, formic acid and nettles 020921
- Contribution to the knowledge of the folk plant medicine in Calabria region (Southern Italy) 019475
- Culpepper's Complete Herbal on Nettles 010614
- Dr Duke's list of aluminium chelating plants 017803
- Dr Duke's list of antiparasitic plants 010310
- Dr Duke's list of Chemicals and their Biological Activities in: Urtica dioica L. (Urticaceae) -- European Nettle, Stinging Nettle 018913
- Dr Duke's list of mercury chelating plants 017825
- Dr Duke's list of plants containing acetylcholine 013007
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing HISTAMINE 019132
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing NICKEL 021500
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SELENIUM 020550
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing SULFUR 021408
- Dr Duke's list of plants for Superactivity Arteriosclerosis/Atherosclerosis 017744
- Dr Duke's list of plants having chemicals with vasodilatory activity 017836
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anti-aggregate activity 017520
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antianxiety activity 018342
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidysmenorrheic Activity 018474
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antineuralgia activity 019580
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiosteoporotic activity 018449
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Metal chelating ability from FERULIC ACID - PART 2 018254
- Dr Duke's plants with histamine vasodilatory effects 010316
- Dr Duke's top 20 plants for constipation 017656
- Dr Duke’s list of Plants with high Antiescherichic activity 021245
- Dr Duke’s list of Plants with high Concentrations of Chemicals with AntiMeniere's Activity 021280
- Mrs Grieve on Nettles 016790
- Nettle syrup 006755
- Nettles and autoimmune diseases 006757
- Nettles and diabetes 006754
- Nettles and plants as anti-inflammatories 006756
- Nettles and prostate problems 006758
- Nettles summary of health benefits 006759
- Phytotherapeutic agents in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia 016961
- Plants and allergic rhinitus 006763
- Rheumatoid arthritis and plants 006778
- The Serotonin hypothesis – curing illness with food 028494
- Tonic Stout 006753