Scientific Name:Urtica dioica
About this Herb:Stinging Nettle 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 plant has many hollow stinging hairs called trichomes on its 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 and as a food source.
They grow throughout most of the United States. Stinging nettle is rather stout with a ribbed, hollow stem that grows 2 to 4 feet tall. The somewhat oval, long-stalked, dark green, opposite leaves are a few inches long, with a rough, papery texture, and very coarse teeth. The leaf tip is pointed, and its base is heart-shaped. This is a dioecious plant, with male and female flowers growing on separate plants. The species name, dioica, means "two households" in Greek. By late spring, some plants have clusters of tiny, green female flowers, hanging from the leaf axils in paired strands.
The leaves and stems are very hairy. Many of which are stinging hairs (trichomes), whose tips come off when touched, transforming the hair into a needle that will inject several chemicals: acetylcholine, histamine, 5-HT (serotonin), moroidin, leukotrienes, and possibly formic acid. This mixture of chemical compounds cause a painful sting or paresthesia from which the species derives its common name, as well as the colloquial names burn nettle, burn weed, burn hazel.
Common Names:Burn Nettle, Burn Weed, Burn Hazel, Common Nettle, Nettle
Uses:Nettles sting you because the hairs are filled with formic acid, histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), plus unknown compounds. Some of these substances are destroyed by cooking, steeping, or drying, but not by freeze-drying or juicing. Unfortunately, you need a vacuum chamber to freeze-dry herbs. However, you can purchase freeze-dried nettles in capsules for hay-fever.
As an expectorant, it's recommended for asthma, mucus conditions of the lungs, and chronic coughs. Nettle tincture is also used for flu, colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Nettle infusion is a safe, gentle diuretic and considered a restorative for the kidneys and bladder, and used for cystitis and nephritis. It is also recommended for weight loss, but you may shed more pounds of water than fat.
Nettle tea compress or finely powdered dried Nettle is also good for wounds, cuts, stings, and burns. The infusion has also been used internally to stop excessive menstruation, bleeding from hemorrhages, bloody coughs, nose bleeds, and bloody urine. It helps blood clot, but major bleeding is dangerous and indicative of a serious underlying condition. Consult a competent practitioner in such cases. Use for minor cuts.
Other uses include treating gout, glandular diseases, poor circulation, enlarged spleen, diarrhea, and dysentery, worms, intestinal and colon disorders, and hemorrhoids. Nettle is usually used along with other herbs that target the affected organs.
German researchers are using Nettle root extracts for prostate cancer, and Russian scientists are experimenting with Nettle leaf tincture for hepatitis and gall bladder inflammation.
Eating Nettle or drinking the tea makes your hair brighter, thicker and shinier, and makes your skin clearer and healthier. It’s good for eczema and other skin conditions. Commercial hair and skin care products in health food stores often list stinging nettle as an ingredient. Nettles have cleansing and antiseptic properties, so the tea is also good in facial steams and rinses.
Leaves and stems should be washed and steamed immediately before preparing them to ingest.
To help prevent seasonal allergies or hay fever, two 300 mg nettle leaf capsules or tablets, or a 2-4 ml tincture, three times per day can be taken during allergy season. For acute attacks, the freeze-dried encapsulated herb can be taken two capsules every five minutes until symptoms have diminished. For hives, 1-2 capsules can be taken every 2-4 hours as needed.
An infusion, tincture, powder, or the fresh juice can be applied externally to cuts and wounds, hemorrhoids, to nostrils for nosebleeds, insect bites or stings, and to soothe and heal burns and scalds. An ointment can also be applied, especially to hemorrhoids.
An infusion of the aerial parts can be taken to stimulate the circulation and to cleanse the system in arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and eczema. Drink 1-3 cups a day. A compress (a soaked cloth in the tea or tincture) can also be applied to painful arthritic joints, gout, neuralgia, sprains, tendonitis, and sciatica.
For prostate problems or BPH, 240 mg per day of the root extract in capsules or tablets can be taken. If this is purchased from a commercial source, it will most likely be combined with saw palmetto or pygeum extracts.
A tincture of the seeds can be used to raise thyroid function and reduce goiter, for skin problems, and in heavy uterine bleeding. The regular seeds, in doses of 14 or 16, and repeated three times daily, are highly recommended as a remedy for goiter.
The juice can be obtained by liquidizing the whole fresh plant to make a good tonic for debilitating conditions, anemia, and to soothe nettle stings. This is also prescribed for cardiac insufficiency with edema. For warts, rub with the freshly expressed juice 3 or 4 times a day, continuing for 10-12 days. To help prevent balding, a tincture or infusion of nettle leaf can be taken. As a rinse for dandruff, falling hair, and as a general conditioner, an infusion or decoction of the root can be taken. The juice of the roots and leaves mixed with honey can relieve bronchitis. An infusion can be taken to increase lactation in nursing mothers and for post-menopausal health. Drink 1-3 cups a day.
Applications:Infusion: Pour one cup boiling water over 2-3 tablespoons leaves or plant and steep for 10-20 minutes or until desired temperature. Drink 1-3 cups daily.
Tincture: Put 15-20 drops (0.25-0.3 ml) in a small amount of water and take 2 times daily of the herb, or 30 drops (0.5 ml) 2-3 times daily of the root.
Tea: Pour one cup boiling water over 2-3 tablespoons leaves or plant and steep for 10-20 minutes or until desired temperature. Drink 1-3 cups daily
Decoction: Take 2-4 fluid ounces as needed