The stinging nettle is a plant widespread in the world. Used for therapeutic purposes for millennia, its root and its leaf are recognized for their diuretic, depurative and remineralizing properties. They are particularly indicated in the treatment of rheumatism, digestive disorders, joint pain, asthenia, skin and prostate problems. The properties of stinging nettle are numerous.

Introducing stinging nettle

The stinging nettle is a perennial or annual plant depending on the species. Sometimes mistakenly considered a weed, its history and traditional use tell us the story of a plant with many healing properties.

History and traditional use of stinging nettle

Used for centuries, stinging nettle has traditionally been used for many purposes:

  • Cure diseases with its leaf and root
  • Make compost to enrich the soil
  • Used as a natural insecticide in fields
  • Consumed for its leaves and seeds

Although the region of its first center of domestication has never been found, its etymology is well known to the herbalist community.

Thus, the generic name "nettle" is taken from the Latin word "urtica"; itself from " uro " - which means to burn, in reference to its stinging power.

Throughout civilizations, this plant has always been able to make people talk about it. In herbal medicine, traces of its use for therapeutic purposes have been found in ancient literature.

Indeed, in his works, Dioscorides, one of the most famous Greek doctors and botanists of the middle of the 1st century AD, lent it diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antitussive and even aphrodisiac properties.

This is confirmed by the writings of the Persian physician Avicenna and the Roman botanist Pliny the Elder who testify that the strong therapeutic potential of stinging nettle was recognized in several regions of the world.

Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, would also have approved of the healing properties of nettle.

Among some ancient peoples, the root and the leaf of the plant were used to fight against intestinal disorders.

From the Middle Ages, they were appreciated both for their medicinal qualities and for their rich composition of nutrients.

Due to its stinging effect, stinging nettle was nevertheless considered a weed for some time and its use as a medicinal plant was relegated to the background.

It was not until the contemporary period that studies carried out by scientists bring its multiple therapeutic properties up to date. Today, despite a persistent reputation as a harmful plant, the stinging nettle is once again on the rise! Its registration in the French pharmacopoeia earned it the throne of master in our herbal shops.

The benefits of stinging nettle leaf

Contrary to its reputation as a weed, stinging nettle is a medicinal plant with exceptional healing properties. In herbal medicine, its leaf is a natural remedy of choice for treating many ailments.

  • The diuretic properties of nettle leaf

Nettle leaf is a formidable diuretic, a quality that it owes mainly to its content of mineral substances.

As a result, it promotes urinary excretion, combats water retention problems and associated ailments, stimulates detoxification or elimination of toxins from the body.

Thanks to its draining properties, nettle leaf is also indicated in case of kidney stones. Numerous studies reveal that it stimulates bile, pancreatic, stomach and intestinal secretions. Hence its reputation as a depurative and cholagogue plant suitable for irregular intestinal transit.

Beyond its favorable impact on the urinary tract, the detoxifying activity of nettle leaf is beneficial on the skin. It allows, in fact, to fight against the excessive production of sebum. This is why its internal use can be prescribed for people prone to dermatoses such as eczema, scabs, acne and psoriasis.

  • The remineralizing properties of stinging nettle leaf

Stinging nettle leaf is renowned for its rich and balanced nutrient composition. It contains in particular minerals (20% of its dry mass) and trace elements (silica, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, sulphur, zinc, etc.).

Therefore, to combat certain nutritional deficiencies, stinging nettle leaf is a natural solution to consider, especially since it contains many vitamins (vitamin A, group B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin F, vitamin K, vitamin P). Its protein content represents about 30% of its dry mass.

In addition to its vitamin content and mineral salts, stinging nettle is an alkalizing plant. Therefore, she:

  • Participates in lowering the acidity of our body
  • Fights joint pain and heartburn
  • Contributes to the proper functioning of the renal system
  • Relieves painful concretions that form in the kidneys
  • Fight against rheumatism, osteoarthritis, arthritis, gout

In addition, rich in calcium, stinging nettle leaf promotes bone strength and prevents osteoporosis. It is involved in the good health of nails, hair and teeth. The amino acids they contain are essential to boost the functional abilities of our body. Its iron content makes it a preventive and curative treatment against anemia.

Finally, the remineralizing properties of nettle leaf give it a tonic effect. This allows it to combat certain forms of asthenia or physical fatigue.

The properties of stinging nettle root

Just like the leaf, the stinging nettle root is a major health asset appreciated for its simplicity of use as well as for its great effectiveness. It is essentially composed of polysaccharides, lectins, lignins and sterols.

  • Beneficial action on the prostate

Due to its diuretic action, stinging nettle root exerts a decongestant activity on the bladder.

Indeed, its excellent content of lectins and lignins makes it an effective natural solution to combat frequent urination disorders associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These include pollakiuria: recurrent and uncontrollable urges to urinate (more than 6 times a day and more than 2 times a night).

This effectiveness of stinging nettle root in the treatment of BPH has been revealed by numerous studies carried out on the subject, thus demonstrating that it inhibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a metabolism active biological promoter of prostate growth.

Additionally, to the credit of several researches, stinging nettle root prevents the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This prevents prostate problems in men.

  • The benefits of nettle root on the joints

Due to its remineralizing effect, stinging nettle root nourishes damaged joints. It stimulates the regeneration of bone and cartilage fiber. It relieves joint pain.

Thanks to the silica, a vital mineral for our well-being that it contains, it acts favorably on the formation of better collagen, a family of fibrous proteins that give tissues mechanical resistance to stretching.

Botanical description of stinging nettle

Stinging nettle is a plant of the Urtica genus that is found all over the world and particularly in Europe.

Belonging to the Urticaceae family, it breaks down into about thirty different species, the most used varieties of which in herbalism and phytotherapy are stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) or great nettle and burning nettle (Urtica urens) or little nettle.

Very popular in early spring, stinging nettle leaves are green, pointed, toothed, pubescent and opposite in color. Regardless of the species, they are characterized by their oval shape and stinging hairs, which means they cause painful irritation on the skin surface. " If you go looking for trouble you'll find it ! »

As a herbaceous plant, the stinging nettle has a size that varies between 20 cm and 1 m high depending on the species. There is a mnemonic device to distinguish the male flower from the female flower. Indeed, if the first is erected towards infinity, the second is distinguished by its curves.

In USA, there are at least 5 species of stinging nettle. Undemanding in terms of soil quality, they nevertheless like soil with a clayey tendency, rich in nitrogen and organic waste, rather humid and drained.

Sometimes growing spontaneously in the wild in gardens, wastelands, forests and meadows, it is mainly their leaves and roots that are used in phytotherapy and herbalism. That said, in some cases, we can also exploit the seeds and the floral tops.

As for when to harvest nettle root and leaf, this is ideally done in the spring. During this period, the spring-flowering nettle leaves are still young and not parasitized by animals or ambient pollution, which allows them to retain the integrity of their properties.

Because it also holds strong diuretic properties, stinging nettle root is an important support for the renal system. Also, it protects it and helps it to better carry out its work of eliminating waste from the body, including uric acid, a molecule responsible for certain kidney disorders.

For all these reasons, stinging nettle root is the ally of bones and cartilage. It is prescribed in particular in cases of osteoarthritis and rheumatism. Its consumption promotes the fixation of calcium, gives flexibility to muscles and tendons.

Contraindications linked to stinging nettle

The medicinal use of stinging nettle is not recommended as a precaution for people in the following situation:

  • Children
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Individuals with hemochromatosis or iron overload in the body
  • People on vitamin K anticoagulants

Due to its stinging power, it is recommended to " stroke the nettle in the direction of the hair growth " or to wear suitable gloves before handling it to avoid side effects such as itching, swelling and red patches.

If you take it long-term for several weeks, you may feel mucous membranes, mouth or dry skin.

In the event of parallel treatment, seeking the advice of a health professional is a good reflex.

Note: nettle stings are easily relieved with 4 thieves vinegar.

The final word on stinging nettle

Stinging nettle is a versatile plant that is particularly rich in nutrients and active substances.

Sold in herbalism, its leaf and root are consumed in the form of herbal tea, drinkable silica or capsule. Their diuretic, remineralizing and depurative actions are particularly beneficial to people suffering from joint pain, nutritional deficiencies or skin diseases.

A plant with many properties, stinging nettle combats benign prostatic hypertrophy and relieves urinary discomfort.