Stinging Nettle

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What other names is Stinging Nettle known by?

Bichu, Common Nettle, Feuille d'Ortie, Graine d'Ortie, Grande Ortie, Great Stinging Nettle, Nettle, Nettle Leaf, Nettle Seed, Nettle Worth, Nettles, Ortie, Ortie Brûlante, Ortie des Jardins, Ortie Dioïque, Ortie Méchante, Ortiga, Small Nettle, Stinging Nettles, Urtica, Urtica dioica, Urtica urens, Urticae Herba et Folium, Urticae Radix.

What is Stinging Nettle?

Stinging nettle is a plant. The root and above ground parts are used as medicine.

Stinging nettle root is taken by mouth for urination problems related to an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH]). These problems include nighttime urination, urination that is too frequent, painful urination, inability to urinate, and irritable bladder.

Stinging nettle root is also used for elevated blood glucose, joint ailments, as a "water pill" (diuretic), and as an astringent. It is also used in women who have high levels of male sex hormones. This condition is called hyperandrogenism.

Stinging nettle above ground parts are used along with large amounts of fluids in so-called "irrigation therapy" for urinary tract infections (UTI), urinary tract inflammation, and kidney stones (nephrolithiasis). The above-ground parts are also used for seasonal allergies (hay fever) and osteoarthritis.

The above ground parts of stinging nettle are also taken by mouth for internal bleeding, including uterine bleeding, nosebleeds, and bowel bleeding. The above ground parts are also used for anemia, poor circulation, an enlarged spleen, diabetes and other hormone disorders, too much acid in the stomach, diarrhea, asthma, lung congestion, heart failure, rash, eczema, cancer, preventing the signs of aging, "blood purification," wound healing, and as a general tonic.

Stinging nettle above ground parts are applied to the skin for muscle aches and pains, oily scalp, oily hair, and hair loss (alopecia).

In foods, young stinging nettle leaves are eaten as a cooked vegetable.

In manufacturing, stinging nettle extract is used as an ingredient in hair and skin products.

Stinging nettle leaf has a long history of use. It was used primarily as a diuretic and laxative in ancient Greek times.

Don't confuse stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) with white dead nettle (Lamium album).

Possibly Effective for...

  • Osteoarthritis. Taking stinging nettle leaf preparations by mouth or applying it to the skin might reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis. Taking stinging nettle leaf preparations by mouth might also reduce the need for pain medications.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Hay fever. Early research suggests that using stinging nettle above ground parts at the first signs of hay fever symptoms may help provide relief.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of stinging nettle, taken alone or together with other ingredients, for improving symptoms of BPH. Early research suggests that taking stinging nettle root preparations for up to 24 months improves urinary tract symptoms in people with BPH. However, stinging nettle root preparations may not improve the flow and force of urine. Many studies have evaluated a particular combination product that contains stinging nettle and saw palmetto (PRO 160/120 by Willmar Schwabe GmbH, Germany). Some research suggests that taking this product by mouth can improve urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH. This combination seems to be comparable to the prescription medication finasteride for relieving symptoms of BPH, and it may be better tolerated. But it's not known if this benefit is due to stinging nettle, saw palmetto, or both ingredients. Another product containing a combination of stinging nettle root, saw palmetto lipoidal extract, pumpkin seed oil, lemon bioflavonoid, and beta-carotene does not improve symptoms of BPH.
  • Bleeding. Some early research suggests that applying a specific product (Ankaferd blood stopper) containing alpinia, licorice, thyme, stinging nettle, and common grape vine to the skin reduces bleeding during surgery. However, it does not seem to reduce the duration of surgery.
  • Diabetes. Some early research suggests that taking a stinging nettle leaf preparation daily for 8 weeks does not help control of blood sugar levels in people with uncontrolled, advanced diabetes. However, other early research shows that taking a stinging nettle leaf preparation for 3 months decreases blood sugar and A1c levels in people with diabetes who are taking antidiabetes medications.
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Early research suggests that using a mouthwash containing stinging nettle, juniper, and yarrow twice daily for 3 months does not reduce plaque or bleeding in people with gingivitis.
  • Excess male hormone levels in women (hyperandrogenism). Early research suggests that taking a stinging nettle root preparation for about 4 months is not more effective than standard therapy for improving menstrual cycle conditions, oily skin, or acne in women with excess male hormone levels.
  • Anemia.
  • Asthma.
  • Cancer.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Poor circulation.
  • Water retention.
  • Wound healing.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate stinging nettle for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Stinging Nettle work?

Stinging nettle contains ingredients that might decrease inflammation and increase urine output.

Are there safety concerns?

Stinging nettle is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 2 years or when applied to the skin appropriately. However, it might cause stomach complaints and sweating. Touching the stinging nettle plant can cause skin irritation.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Stinging nettle is LIKELY UNSAFE to take during pregnancy. It might stimulate uterine contractions and cause a miscarriage. It's also best to avoid stinging nettle if you are breast-feeding.

Diabetes: There is some evidence that stinging nettle above ground parts can decrease blood sugar levels. This might increase the chance of blood sugar levels becoming too low in people being treated for diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar carefully.

Low blood pressure: Stinging nettle above ground parts might lower blood pressure. In theory, stinging nettle might increase the risk of blood pressure dropping too low in people prone to low blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, discuss stinging nettle with your healthcare provider before starting it.

Kidney problems: The above ground parts of stinging nettle seem to increase urine flow. If you have kidney problems, discuss stinging nettle with your healthcare provider before starting it.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Lithium
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Stinging nettle might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking stinging nettle might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.



Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Stinging nettle above ground parts might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking stinging nettle along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (Diabeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Stinging nettle above ground parts might to decrease blood pressure. Taking stinging nettle along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.



Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Large amounts of stinging nettle above ground parts might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking stinging nettle along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.



Warfarin (Coumadin)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Stinging nettle above ground parts contain large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, stinging nettle might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Dosing considerations for Stinging Nettle.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • For osteoarthritis: 9 grams of crude stinging nettle leaf has been used daily. Also, an infusion containing 50 mg of stinging nettle leaf has been taken along with 50 mg of diclofenac daily for 14 days.
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For osteoarthritis: Fresh stinging nettle leaf has been applied to painful joints for 30 seconds once per day for one week. Also a specific cream containing stinging nettle leaf extract (Liquid Phyto-Caps Nettle Leaf by Gaia Herbs) has been applied twice daily for 2 weeks.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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