Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has been a staple in herbal medicine since ancient times.
Ancient Egyptians used stinging nettle to treat arthritis and lower back pain, while Roman troops rubbed it on themselves to help stay warm (1).
1. Contains Many Nutrients
Stinging nettle’s leaves and root provide a wide variety of nutrients, including:
Vitamins: Vitamins A, C and K, as well as several B vitamins
Minerals: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium
Fats: Linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid
Amino acids: All of the essential amino acids
Polyphenols: Kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins and other flavonoids
Pigments: Beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin and other carotenoids
What’s more, many of these nutrients act as antioxidants inside your body.
Antioxidants are molecules that help defend your cells against damage from free radicals. Damage caused by free radicals is linked to aging, as well as cancer and other harmful diseases
Studies indicate that stinging nettle extract can raise blood antioxidant levels
2. May Reduce Inflammation And Arthritis
Inflammation is your body’s way of healing itself and fighting infections.
However, chronic inflammation can inflict significant harm.
Stinging nettle harbors a variety of compounds that may reduce inflammation.
In animal and test-tube studies, stinging nettle reduced levels of multiple inflammatory hormones by interfering with their production.
In human studies, applying a stinging nettle cream or consuming stinging nettle products appears to relieve inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
For instance, in one 27-person study, applying a stinging nettle cream onto arthritis-affected areas significantly reduced pain, compared to a placebo treatment.
In another study, taking a supplement that contained stinging nettle extract significantly reduced arthritis pain. Additionally, participants felt they could reduce their dose of anti-inflammatory pain relievers because of this capsule.
3. May Treat Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
Up to 50% of men aged 51 and older have an enlarged prostate gland.
An enlarged prostate is commonly called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Scientists aren’t sure what causes BPH, but it can lead to significant discomfort during urination.
Interestingly, a few studies suggest that stinging nettle may help treat BPH.
4. May Treat Hay Fever
Hay fever is an allergy that involves inflammation in the lining of your nose.
Stinging nettle is viewed as a promising natural treatment for hay fever.
5. May Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious health concern because it puts you at risk of heart disease and strokes, which are among the leading causes of death worldwide.
Stinging nettle was traditionally used to treat high blood pressure.
Animal and test-tube studies illustrate that it may help lower blood pressure in several ways.
For one, it may stimulate nitric oxide production, which acts as a vasodilator. Vasodilators relax the muscles of your blood vessels, helping them widen.
In addition, stinging nettle has compounds that may act as calcium channel blockers, which relax your heart by reducing the force of contractions.
6. May Aid Blood Sugar Control
Both human and animal studies link stinging nettle to lower blood sugar levels
In fact, this plant contains compounds that may mimic the effects of insulin.
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 a placebo.
Stinging nettle may offer other potential health benefits, including:
Reduced bleeding: Medicines containing stinging nettle extract have been found to reduce excessive bleeding, especially after surgery
Liver health: Nettle’s antioxidant properties may protect your liver against damage by toxins, heavy metals and inflammation
Natural diuretic: This plant may help your body shed excess salt and water, which in turn could lower blood pressure temporarily. Keep in mind that these findings are from animal studies
Wound and burn healing: Applying stinging nettle creams may support wound healing, including burn wounds.