Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
The following passage from Les Misérables on the utilization of Nettles, shows how conversant Victor Hugo was with the virtues of this commonly despised ‘weed’:
One day he (Monsieur Madeleine) saw some peasants busy plucking out Nettles; he looked at the heap of plants uprooted and already withered, and said – “They are dead. Yet it would be well if people knew how to make use of them. When the nettle is young, its leaf forms an excellent vegetable; when it matures, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. Nettle fabric is as good as canvas. Chopped, the nettle is good for poultry; pounded it is good for cattle. The seed of the nettle mingled with fodder imparts a gloss to the coats of animals; its root mixed with salt produces a beautiful yellow colour. It is besides excellent hay and can be cut twice. And what does the nettle require? Little earth, no attention, no cultivation. Only the seed falls as it ripens, and is difficult to gather. That is all. With a little trouble, the nettle would be useful; it is neglected, and becomes harmful.
The main use of the herbal remedies made from the nettle is in the role of a cleansing and detoxifying agent in the body.
Nettle has been around for centuries as an universal remedy for all kinds of problems from lowering blood sugar through helping with the arthritis pains to hemorrhoids and as a beauty treatment, and I heard a lot about the benefits of drinking Nettle tea from my grandma when I was a child constantly battling anemia.
Parts employed: The whole herb, collected in Mayand June, just before coming into flower, and dried in the usual manner prescribed for ‘bunched’ herbs.
Nettle is a potent diuretic
The diuretic action of the nettle is also a highly regarded property possessed by the herb; this property is probably due to the high content of bio-molecules known as the flavonoids and may also be because of the high potassium levels in the herb. The main property of the herbal remedy in this role is that it increases the total production of urine and helps in the effective elimination of accumulated metabolic waste products in the body. Various skin disorders and conditions are also effectively treated using herbal remedies derived from the nettle, as an example, the cases of childhood eczema and arthritic problems are treated using the nettle, and the herbal remedy is extensively used in the treatment of very poor or impaired kidney functioning, beside its use in treating fluid retention issues.
Nettle helps with bleeding, hemorrhoids
Bleeding in any area of the body is treatable by the strong astringent action of the nettle. Nettle in the form of an herbal infusion, as a tincture or in the fresh juice form can be applied externally as a topical measure for the treatment of various cuts and wounds to stanch the bleeding, it can be used in cases of hemorrhoids, it can stanch nose bleeds, and it can also be used as a soothing and healing salve against various burns and scald injuries. The herbal remedies made from the nettle have also been extensively used as a remedy for stemming bleeding during heavy menstrual periods, and paradoxically also in inducing bleeding during delayed or absent periods in women. The nettle remedies also stimulate the production of milk in lactating women, and have a galactagogue role in such cases.
Menopause and Nettle
The herbal remedies made from the nettle can also be used as an excellent restorative remedy for treatment during menopause in women.
Nettle and Asthma
The nettle also helps in clearing away various disorders in the respiratory system and in the treatment of a variety of catarrhal congestion and is an effective remedy in relieving the symptoms of various allergies such as those that come on during hay fever and in asthmatic attacks. The remedies made from the nettle also help in healing disorders affecting the digestive tract; it is an effective remedy against cases of diarrhea, in the treatment of excess gas, and to treat the various inflammation and ulcerations affecting the digestive tract in different people.
The herbal remedies made from the nettle have also been successful treatment elevated blood sugar levels and the nettle seed tincture is said to be able to elevate the functioning and performance of the thyroid gland and in so doing is believed to be capable of reducing disorders such as goiter.
Nettle and Hormones
Nettle root has been found to increase a protein in the blood to which hormones bind. Ingesting nettle root helps to effectively reduce the amount of sex hormones that are “unbound”; that is, free to affect various tissues in the body. This can be helpful in cases of excessive hormonal stimulation, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome in women or benign prostatic hyperplasia in men.
It is very importatnt to remember that the root is much better for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and hair loss, while the leaf is better for inflammation (including prostatitis), allergies, and as a natural diuretic for people with hypertension.
The fresh juice of the nettle can also be used as an effective topical herbal remedy to relieve the skin of symptoms associated with insect bites and stings; these can include the sting of the nettle as well! Fresh nettle stinging hairs contains the formic acid and the compound histamine, these chemicals responsible for the irritation of skin, have been successfully and traditionally used to stimulate the circulation of blood and to relieve the physical symptoms of disorders such as arthritis and rheumatism in many patients.
Nettle Hair Rinse
Externally it has been used to improve the appearance of the hair, and is said to be a remedy against oily hair and dandruff.
Put 1 ounce of dried nettle leaf in a quart glass canning jar. Pour in boiling water and stir to soak all the leaves. Cap with a lid and steep 2-4 hours. Rinse hair once a week.
The stinging sensation of the leaf hairs is caused by several plant chemicals including formic acid, histamine, serotonin, and choline. In addition to these chemicals, nettle leaf is rich in minerals, chlorophyll, amino acids, lecithin, carotenoids, flavonoids, sterols, tannins and vitamins. The root of the plant has other chemicals such as scopoletin, sterols, fatty acids, polysaccharides and isolectins. Several of nettle’s lectin chemicals have demonstrated marked antiviral actions (against HIV and several common upper respiratory viruses). Other chemicals (flavonoids in the leaves and a lectin in the root) have been documented with interesting immune stimulant actions in preliminary research which led researchers to suggest that the lectin might be useful in the treatment of systemic lupus.
Nettle’s main plant chemicals include: acetophenone, acetylcholine, agglutinins, alkaloids, astragalin, butyric acid, caffeic acids, carbonic acid, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, choline, coumaric acid, folacin, formic acid, friedelins, histamine, kaempherols, koproporphyrin, lectins, lecithin, lignans, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, neoolivil, palmitic acid, pantothenic acid, quercetin, quinic acid, scopoletin, secoisolariciresinol, serotonin, sitosterols, stigmasterol, succinic acid, terpenes, violaxanthin, and xanthophylls.