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The Caruso Homeopathy Blog

The Healing Properties of the Herb Urtica Urens, Stinging Nettle


     Urtica Urens is a tall edible perennial native plant to Ontario. It also grows freely in North America, Europe and Asia. People who walk in the woods may have encountered its sharp and irritating hairs that cause a prickling burning rash. The leaves, shoots and roots are edible and nettle has quite a lot of nutritional value. Ancient cultures such as the North American Indians and ancient Celts consumed nettles are part of their daily diet. Once nettles are cooked they lose their sting but one must wear gloves when picking this plant. According to the International Journal of Food Science, when analyzed processed nettle can supply 90%–100% of vitamin C and A (including vitamin A as β-carotene) and is a good source of dietary calcium, iron, and protein. It also contains chlorophyll, silica, potassium, chromium, vitamin K and fiber.    

     In the book “American Healing Arts”, the author writes about a recipe made by North American Indians with steamed nettle with evening primrose. They recommend putting 10 green nettle tops, 20 green evening primrose leaves and six young evening primrose seed capsules into 1 cup of water and place over medium heat. Once the liquid boils, let it sit for ten minutes and then strain the liquid out. Use this liquid as a tea or dab it onto skin rashes, bites or eczema.

     Nettle is used with great success in allergic conditions. It increases the production of T cells which are the immune cells that control other cells that cause allergies. Stinging nettle root extract increases a chemical messenger (IL-2) stimulates the production of new T cells and wakes up existing T cells. Stinging nettle is often found in herbal combinations for seasonal allergies. It is quite good at reducing the severity and incidence of hives. Some herbalists say that it can be helpful in eczema both internally and topically.

     Stinging nettle is said to be good for anemia because it contains iron, vitamin C and chlorophyll. However, in practice, it has not shown as great a benefit as touted in this regard. However, it acts as an excellent blood purifier and helps to remove waste and uric acid crystals. This is of particular benefit in those with kidney stones and gout.

     Men can benefit from adding nettle to their tea pot or diet because it helps with prostate health. According to the book, Prescription for Herbal Healing, nettle root decreases the rate of cell division in the prostate gland. It is thought a compound in nettle sits in a receptor site on the prostate cells that usually accept growth hormones. This prevents growth hormone from acting and in turn there is less enlargement of the prostate. Nettle is also helpful in increasing testosterone levels in both men and women.

   Herbalists often use nettle for water retention because it increases urination volume and reduces residual urine in the bladder. It increases urine flow whilst stimulating the kidneys. Studies have found that stinging nettle also useful for arthritis, gout, joints pains and in difficult cases like rheumatoid arthritis. Research has found using nettle along with NSAIDs, reduces the need for medication. Nettle is also used topically on painful joints with great success.

     Nettle comes in capsule, tea, powder and tincture form. Fresh nettles can be consumed in soups, sautes or as a tea. Be aware that nettle has anti bleeding properties so beware of taking this herb along with blood thinners or if you have a clotting disorder. Occasionally nettle can cause mild digestive upset in sensitive people.

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