Stinging nettle is a popular choice in the world of natural treatments due to the fact that it has a wide range of applications and rarely produces side effects in those who use it. It’s truly stunning to think about how many things you can treat through the use of stinging nettle. In this article, we’re going to go over some of the applications that you can use it for — to give you a closer look at just how beneficial it can be.
The scientific name for stinging nettle is Urtica dioica. It prefers damp soil which explains why it’s prevalent in Europe, Canda, and the United States. It’s worth noting that there are some sharp hairs on the leaf that could irritate your skin so steer clear of these areas. It also contains a chemical that you may already be familiar with — serotonin, but we’ll get more into that later.
1. Pain Reducer
Have you ever come home from work with a bad case of headache after a long day of finishing pilled up deadlines? Ever experienced walking out from PE class with your muscles all stiff since you don’t get to exercise regularly? Or maybe you’ve been slouching on the couch for too long because you were binge-watching your favorite Netflix series, and when you stood up to refill your bowl of popcorn your back ached?
A cup of tea may be just what you need. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, stinging nettle has components that contain natural anesthetic and anti-inflammatory compounds. The tiny hairs that cover the nettle leaves contain histamine, serotonin, and other chemicals aid to lessen pain by stimulating pain neurons. You can enjoy this benefit by either steeping it in hot water or applying it directly to the skin around the painful area.
2. Immunity Booster
After a long day of work, you’re much more susceptible to sickness and diseases. When you wake up the next morning with the sniffles or a nasty cough, you’ll often shrug it off while drinking some aspirin or whatever over-the-counter drug. Indeed, many people ward the everyday cold or the occasional flu with synthetic medication, but we all know how medicine like that can cause other harmful side effects in the body.
Stinging nettle offers a natural alternative to common disease-fighting medicine. Instead of addressing the sickness, stinging nettle activates and strengthens the lymph system to boost your immunity. Stinging nettle also contains several immune-boosting compounds, like vitamins A and C. These antioxidants protect immune cells against damage that can hamper the immune system. Instead of fighting the sickness, it defends the body from being susceptible to these diseases in the first place.
What can I say, I’d rather not get sick than nurse a cold while working. Prevention is always better than cure!
3. Enhances Digestion
No one likes to be a frequent resident of the white throne (the toilet). If you find yourself doing an unnecessary amount of number 2s, either because of diarrhea or constipation, stinging nettle might help you feel relieved (and yes, the pun is absolutely intended).
Stinging nettle aids digestion by reducing excessive inflammation. Excessive inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract not only keeps you constipated, but prolonged periods of inflammation can promote the growth of unwanted bacteria there. Being an anti-inflammatory, stinging nettle opens up the gastrointestinal tract and prevents both instances from happening.
As a side effect, because the intestines are cleansed and the possibility of harmful bacterial growth is reduced, the good bacteria in your intestines, collectively recognized as the microbiome, is preserved. Protecting your microbiome also protects you from all other diseases, like diabetes according to Michael Snyder, Ph.D., director of Stanford University’s Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine.
4. Improves Kidney Health
From number 2s to number 1s, stinging nettles just keeps on giving more benefits. Another advantage of stinging nettle is its ability to be a diuretic, which is just another fancier word for “makes me wanna pee more”. This is especially important for those having a hard time getting them liquids out even if your body wants to.
Urinating expels wastes from the body, like excess salts, urea, and creatinine. By increasing the volume of urine, this enables the body to even wash out harmful bacteria that have found their way into the kidneys and urinary tract. That is why having nettle is useful as an adjunct therapy for those taking treatment for urinary tract infections.
Stinging nettle also has the ability to prevent kidney stones. In a 2014 study done on rats, researchers found that rats given nettle extract had a reduced build-up of calcium-oxalate crystals, which is the common contributor to kidney stones.
5. Protects Heart Health
Broken hearts are everywhere, both physically and metaphorically. It hurts whenever the person you have a crush on, but at least time would heal those wounds. That’s not really the case, though, if your real heart starts having problems. If you’re interested in protecting your heart (physically, at least), then a cup of stinging nettle tea should always be on your diet.
Nettles are known to help in lowering blood pressure, with flavonoids packed inside the plant. Nettles are also rich in iron and potassium, helping blood vessels open up and promote healthy blood circulation. The plant is also known to contain vitamin A and C, and beta carotene, all known heart protectors.
Nothing beats a broken heart like a cup of nettle tea. If it doesn’t heal your broken heart, at least you know it can prevent it from literally breaking. Now all that’s left is to figure out what to do with these chocolates?
6. Manages Diabetes
It is simply irresistible to not like sugars. Whether it be in cakes or pastries, processed as sweets, and yes even that box of chocolates you were left with back at number 5. It’s quite unfortunate news if you have diabetes running in the family, especially for a person with a sweet tooth. It is good to know, though, that nettle tea can also put diabetes in check! In fact, stinging nettles contain compounds that mimic the effects of insulin.
Studies have also shown that stinging nettle has the ability to reduce blood sugar levels. In a three-month study in 46 people, taking 500 mg of stinging nettle extract three times daily significantly lowered blood sugar levels compared to placebos. In the right amount, stinging nettles can serve as a good alternative to other medicine, but more research is said to be done to prove it definitively.
7. Prevents Osteoporosis
We often think that osteoporosis is associated with old age, but in truth just about anyone of any age can have it. Osteoporosis is defined as a disease in the bones in which the quality and density decline. Normally as people age the bones dissolve and create cells simultaneously in a process called remodeling. However, the bones of those with osteoporosis lose cells quicker than they can build new ones. This causes the bones to be fragile and feeble, and in a worst-case scenario, it may even crack just from a light blow or sneeze.
It is hard to perceive since it occurs silently and in phases, and is only known once the first fracture happens. Anyone can acquire osteoporosis, however, it is most susceptible for post-menopausal women to develop this.
Research has found out that there are many minerals contained within nettle leaves, most important being calcium, magnesium, and iron. These minerals aid in preventing the gradual deterioration of bone mineral density.
8. Alleviates Osteoarthritis
Ever felt like your having a hard time moving your joints? Do they feel even stiffer after not moving for a while? If so, then you might need to consult your doctor because you just might have a case of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (or OA for short) is a common ailment of the joint. It is also defined as a progressive disease, meaning that as more time passes the symptoms worsen.
Unfortunately, there is no remedy for it, however, treatment can be done to ease the pain and swelling of the afflicted part. One of these possible treatments is by intake of nettle tea. Phytotherapeutic compounds, which include plant oils, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, and fatty acids, are the components in stinging nettle that possess beneficial effects on osteoarthritis, joint pain, and gout. The extract gathered from nettle leaves can also act as an inhibitor for inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
9. Allergic Reactions Remedy
Stinging nettle has been known to be an effective remedy against allergic reactions. One particular condition is known as hay fever and stinging nettle is very useful in such cases. Hay fever — also known as rhinitis — affects the nose primarily. Despite its name, you don’t need to be exposed to hay to come down with hay fever, nor will you have a fever. People were just really bad at naming things back then.
Itchy eyes, running nose, and sneezing can all be alleviated through the use of stinging nettle which is great since they make up the most common hay fever symptoms. Hay fever can be very annoying since it makes it difficult to sleep which can leave you fatigued the following day. Diesel exhaust and cigarette smoke are two very common triggers of hay fever so if you live/work in such environments then you should keep some stinging nettle handy.
10. Reduces Menstrual Pain
For all the women out there, menstrual pains aren’t something new to deal with. Nonetheless, this is also not something you will ever get used to. Accompanied emotional distress to sudden mood swings, these period pains will continuously rack your uterus as if it’s complaining of not having a baby growing up in it.
Thankfully, having a cup of stinging nettle tea can ease the menstrual pains and throb around the lower abdomen area. With its analgesic and styptic properties, coupled with its high vitamin K content, stinging nettle can lessen the excessive bleeding when menstruation occurs. So sit back and relax as you enjoy your cup of tea and let it do its wonders. And if there is still a bit of throbbing, you could always place the side of the cup on the area like a hot compress bag.