The Urtica dioica or the stinging nettle is a perennial flowering plant that has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient time. It is used medicinally as a diuretic and for its painkiller properties. It has anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-ulcer, analgesic and astringent properties. This plant also works as a natural allergy reliever.
General information about the stinging nettle:
- The stinging nettle is more than a pesky weed as it has been a source of food, fibres and medicine from ages. The Urtica dioica usually grows between two to four feet best in the nitrogen-enriched soil.
- The hairs that cover the stem and the leaves are called trichomes which act as a mini-injection. When our body comes in contact with this plant, the hairs inject several chemicals like acetylcholine, histamine, serotonin and formic acid. All these chemical compounds together cause the painful stinging sensation.
- Most medicines are made using the stem and leaves of this plant, but the roots of the plant are equally important for pharmaceutical purpose.
Some benefits of stinging nettle:
The root, stem, and leaves of Urtica dioica are utilised to treat many diseases such as
Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and urinary problems
BPH or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is caused by enlarged prostate, pressing and thus narrowing the urethra. Many clinical studies revealed that the stinging nettle contains some chemicals that cure BPH by directly affecting the prostate cells.
The stinging nettle root extracts are used to formulate medicines which act as an excellent diuretic and cures urinary tract infection.
Treatment of Osteoarthritis
Using stinging nettle topically on the skin for osteoarthritis or joint pain is a folk remedy which has been done since ages. The anti-inflammatory property of Urtica dioica helps reduce the inflammation.
Treatment of Hay Fever
A study has revealed that the stinging nettle extract reduces the allergic reaction of hay fever in people. Presumably, the nettle leaves have the ability to reduce the histamine content present in our body which is produced to fight allergens.
Certain medicines made from the nettle leaves are used to stop bleeding during surgery. Dentists often use these medicines to perform dental surgery.
Treatment for Eczema
The anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties of stinging nettle can be used to treat eczema. Currently, research in terms of medicines for treating this skin disease is onboard.
Preliminary studies on stinging nettle have suggested that it also promotes lactation, hair growth and controls diabetes.
How to take stinging nettle:
Once nettle is soaked or dried, the trichomes lose the ability to sting. After that, you can take nettle with food or drink.
The Nettle leaves are dried and steeped to make the tea.
The nettle leaves can be cooked just like spinach or can be made into a puree.
You can also directly apply the nettle extract to treat joint pains and arthritis.
Nettle sting treatments
Anti-itch drugs containing antihistamines and Hydrocortisone provide relief from nettle sting. Crushed leaves from jewelweed and Aloe Vera produce juices which provide instant relief to the nettle stung area.
- While harvesting this plant, always use gardening gloves to avoid being stung.
- Pregnant women shouldn’t use the nettle as it affects the menstrual cycle.
- Be cautious when you’re using nettle alongside other supplements, as the mixture of these chemicals can harm you.
- Some people suffer from diarrhoea and upset stomach when they start taking nettle for the first time.
Despite its known for painful stings, the stinging nettle has proved to be quite beneficial. You just need to take it safely.