Herbal supplements are becoming popular. This is primarily due to the rise in awareness related to side-effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs. Researchers have looked at a wide range of natural extracts.
This helps them identify native plants that can produce effective health benefits. It also helps scientists find products that are safe for human use.
Stinging nettle is a widely researched natural extract. It is a herb that has been used since ancient times. There are several proclaimed benefits associated with a stinging nettle leaf preparation.
People have used it to remain warm, to treat arthritis, and to alleviate pain in the past.
We look at what the stinging nettle plant is. We also consider the health benefits of this herb. Additionally, this post will also discuss how stinging nettle can be used for maximum benefits.
What Are Stinging Nettles?
Stinging nettle is a plant. The plants are sometimes referred to as stinging nettles. It is considered a staple among people who delve into herbal medicinal practices.
The plant has been used in natural remedies for centuries. There are texts from both ancient Rome and ancient Egypt that describe the use of stinging nettle plants.
The scientific name for stinging nettle is Urtica dioica. The leaves of the plant are most commonly used in herbal medicinal preparations. The leaves of the stinging nettle plant are quite unique, containing structures that look like hair.
When fresh leaves of the plant are touched, it gives off certain chemicals. The hair structures cause the chemicals to be injected into the skin. This causes a burning sensation.
Some people describe this is a stinging sensation. The burning effect is only temporary. It can still be troublesome for most people. Some people also experience hives and a rash in the area where they touched the leaves. Inflammation sometimes develops in the area as well.
People use the leaves, stems, and other parts of the plant for its medicinal properties. The fresh pieces can be cooked. This makes them safer to use. Some companies also process elements of the stinging nettle plant to produce supplements.
A freeze-dried process is often used. Sometimes the plant parts are dried and processed until it is in the form of a powder.
Benefits Of Stinging Nettles
Several studies have been conducted on the use of stinging nettle plants. The studies have shown that the herb is generally safe for most people. Several benefits have been associated with the use of nettle leaf and nettle root. We take a look at some of the most important benefits below.
One of the significant benefits of stinging nettle is that it is rich in several nutrients. Many people fail to obtain enough nutrients in their daily diet. The use of stinging nettle helps to increase the intake of a few essential nutrients, including some vitamins and minerals.
The specific concentration of nutrients provided depends on how stinging nettle is used. Some forms of the plant contain a more abundant concentration of these nutritional compounds. Others may have a lower concentration.
Vitamins contained in stinging nettle extract include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- B vitamins
Stinging nettle leaf and stinging nettle root contain the following minerals:
Stinging nettle extract also contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs. These are the building blocks for protein. There are also several healthy fats contained in the plant. Some of these fats include:
- Palmitic acid
- Oleic acid
- Stearic acid
- Linolenic acid
- Linoleic acid
Apart from these nutrients, the stinging nettle plant is also rich in antioxidants. The antioxidant activity of the plant is primarily provided by pigments and polyphenols. This includes beta-carotene, luteoxanthin, quercetin, coumarins, and caffeic acid.
These factors help protect the body against free radicals and oxidative damage. They also contribute to the additional benefits that the plant has been associated with.
May Reduce Inflammation
A lot of people turn to stinging nettle due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This is also one of the most commonly researched topics related to the plant extract.
Inflammation is an important response in the human body. It is crucial to help the body fight against disease and infection. Unfortunately, some people experience chronic inflammation. This can rather lead to severe complications in the human body.
There are several chemicals in stinging nettle that may help with chronic inflammation. Several studies have also shown that stinging nettle is effective at reducing inflammation.
In one study, it was shown that stinging nettle affected pro-inflammatory hormones. There was a reduction in the production of these hormones. This study used test-tube subjects. Animal subjects have also been tested. Similar results were observed.
There are also human studies on the subject. Many of these studies have also reported improvements in inflammation. The reduction in inflammation may also help people with joint pain and similar problems.
Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition among men. It is a prostate condition. It causes an enlargement of the prostate.
The prostate enlargement makes the gland push against the bladder and urethra. In turn, a man may develop urinary tract symptoms. These lower urinary tract symptoms may include difficulty urinating, urinary retention, and more.
Stinging nettle may also be helpful for men with this condition. It has been shown that stinging nettle may reduce the level of dihydrotestosterone. This is a potent form of the main sex hormone, testosterone. The body converts some testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. High levels of DHT may contribute to prostate problems. By limiting the conversion, there may be improvements in BPH symptoms.
Urinary symptoms may also improve with the use of stinging nettle. This can help to further ease the symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
May Lower Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a global public health concern. High blood pressure leads to heart disease and can cause fatal complications. Some studies have shown that stinging nettle may be useful for people with high blood pressure problems.
The use of stinging nettle seems to increase nitric oxide levels. This is a gas that has a vasodilation effect in the body. The gas helps the blood vessels relax. It affects the muscles that are found in the walls of blood vessels.
When blood vessels relax, more blood can flow through them. The heart also does not need to work as hard to pump blood through the body. In turn, this may help to reduce blood pressure levels.
May Aid Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes is another serious disease that affects millions of people. It can cause many complications. Diabetes may shorten a person’s expected lifespan.
Some studies show that stinging nettle is good for people with diabetes too. It seems like the plant is able to reduce blood sugar levels in the body. There are actually quite a few studies that have researched the connection between stinging nettle and blood sugar regulation. A specific compound in the plant has a similar effect as insulin in the body. Further human studies are still needed to make a more accurate conclusion.
Current evidence is limited to a human clinical trial with 46 participants. There was, however, a significant improvement in blood sugar regulation among these individuals.
Stinging nettle also acts as a natural diuretic in the human body. It helps to remove excess fluids in the body. The plant also assists in expelling excess salts that collect in the body. This further contributes to the blood pressure-lowering effects linked to stinging nettle.
There are powerful antioxidants found in stinging nettle. Many of these antioxidants seem to be beneficial for the liver. The anti-inflammatory effects of stinging nettle also seem to be beneficial for a person’s liver.
Furthermore, stinging nettle may help protect the liver against heavy metals and toxic compounds. This helps to improve liver health. It may also be helpful for people with existing liver-related conditions.
Arthritis is a family of diseases. The most common kinds include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions cause joint pain and inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effects of stinging nettle seem to be beneficial for people with arthritis. One study found there was a significant improvement in pain symptoms associated with arthritis.
Where Can I Find It?
Stinging nettle supplements are generally available at local health stores. It is also often possible to buy dried stinging nettle leaves, as well as a powdered form of the plant, from these health stores.
For people in areas where access to health stores is limited, taking their search online can be helpful. There are a lot of online stores that sell stinging nettle products. This may include teas, dietary capsules, powders, and more.
It is always important to consider the specific formula used. Some supplements will only provide a specific dose of stinging nettle extracts. Others may contain additional ingredients. The purpose of such a formula is often to elevate the overall benefits a person may experience.
How To Use
It is relatively easy and straightforward to take stinging nettle. A person should first understand that fresh stinging nettle can be harmful. If using fresh leaves, they should be handled with care. These leaves are generally cooked. This ensures any harmful chemicals are removed from the plant.
When working with fresh leave, exposure to the skin causes problems. This includes stinging and burning sensations, among other issues.
The leaves of the stinging nettle plant can be dried. Once dried, they can be steeped. This allows a person to prepare a stinging nettle tea. Some people make soups with stinging nettle. In this case, multiple parts of the plant can be used. Leaves, roots, and the stem of the plant can be added to the soup.
Some people also add stinging nettle to stir-frys and stews. Fresh plant parts can be used in these cases. The cooking process will ensure harmful chemicals are removed in the process.
Some dietary supplements contain stinging nettle too. It can be processed into a powder form.
There are no specific dosage recommendations for the herb. Some studies have made specific suggestions regarding the appropriate dosage, however. The highest recommended dose of stinging nettle is 600mg. This is the case when using the herb to treat allergies. In this case, it is advised to use a freeze-dried leave form of the plant.
Men with prostate problems are advised to use a root extract. A 360mg daily dose of the root extract seems to be effective.
In most cases, a person should not experience serious side-effects when they use stinging nettle. The herb has been proven as safe herbal medicine. Still, there are a few possible side-effects that have been reported.
It is important to first note that the form of use makes a difference. It is generally advised to use a dried form of stinging nettle. The plant can also be cooked. This allows for a stinging nettle tea, for example. Fresh leaves from the stinging nettle plant can cause harm to a person’s skin.
There are certain chemicals that a fresh leave may inject into the bloodstream. These include histamine, formic acid, leukotrienes, acetylcholine, and serotonin.
Exposure to these chemicals can cause side-effects. There may be itching and a rash in the area. The skin may also break out in hives. Bumps can develop in the affected area as well.
There have been cases of allergic reactions linked to stinging nettle. It is extremely rare, but still, a possibility that needs to be noted. A life-threatening allergic reaction may occur in these extremely rare cases. This can lead to fatal complications if not treated quickly.
It is also important to note that stinging nettle should not be used by a pregnant woman. The plant’s chemicals may cause side-effects that affect pregnancy. There is also a higher risk that the woman will have a miscarriage if she uses stinging nettle during pregnancy.
Potential interactions also need to be taken into consideration. Stinging nettle can interact with certain drugs. This may cause the drug to become more or less effective. It can sometimes lead to serious complications. People should be wary of using stinging nettle if they take these drugs:
- Pharmaceutical drugs that treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
- Lithium-based drugs.
- Blood thinner medication.
- Drugs used to treat hypertension.
Stinging nettle is a plant. The leaves of the plant can cause burning and itching. The plant is processed into a supplement form. Using stinging nettle supplements may yield several potential benefits.
There are scientific studies that show the benefits of this herbal supplement. It may help with arthritis, inflammation, hay fever, and joint pain. People should be aware of the possible side-effects too. This ensures a person understands what to expect when using this herbal medicine.