Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are a perennial lawn weed covered with tiny hairs that cause a painful welt that lasts for hours. Heating or drying the plant prevents the sting.
- Cooked nettles are rich in minerals; freeze-dried roots, seeds, or leaves are a valued herbal medicine.
- Nettle leaf has been used as a diuretic (water pill) and a treatment for kidney stones and prostate troubles for hundreds of years, but no medical studies have been done of this effect.
- Nettle roots have been shown to help keep prostate cells from growing better than a placebo, in both cancer and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) in test tube and human studies.
- Nettles also have proven to reduce inflammation and help block pain signals caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Forms: Capsules, tincture, tea, juice
- Avoid nettles if you have severe kidney disease, are on dialysis, or have fluid retention due to congestive heart failure.
- Nettles may interfere with blood pressure medication.
- Do not eat the raw leaves.
- A rash may occur if you are allergic to nettles.
- If you make tea out of fresh nettle leaves, use small, young leaves. Older nettle leaves can contain oxalate, which can irritate the kidneys.
- In one case, a woman developed atropine poisoning after drinking stinging nettle tea that was contaminated with belladonna.
- One source reports that nettles may raise blood sugar levels.