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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Nettle?

Anyone who lives in a locale where nettle grows wild will eventually discover the powers of this dark green plant. Depending on the species, the fine hairs on its leaves and stem cause burning pain that lasts from hours to weeks. But this well-protected herb has also been used as medicine. Nettle juice was used in Hippocrates' time to treat bites and stings, and European herbalists recommended nettle tea for lung disorders. Nettle tea was used by Native Americans as an aid in pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing.

Currently, nettle rootis more commonly used medicinally than the above-ground portion of the herb. In Europe, nettle root is widely used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) , or prostate enlargement. Like saw palmetto, pygeum, and beta-sitosterol, nettle appears to reduce obstruction to urinary flow and decrease the need for nighttime urination. However, the evidence is not as strong for nettle as it is for these other treatments.

Note: Before self-treating prostate symptoms with nettle root, be sure to get a proper medical evaluation to rule out prostate cancer.

Nettle leaf has become a popular treatment for allergies (hay fever) based on one preliminary double-blind study.

Nettle leaf is highly nutritious and, in cooked form, may be used as a general...

Safety Issues

Because nettle leaf has a long history of food use, it is believed to be safe.

Nettle root does not have as extensive a history to go by. Although detailed safety studies have not been reported, no significant adverse effects have been noted in Germany where nettle root is widely used. In practice, it is nearly side-effect free. In one study of 4,087 people who took 600 to 1,200 mg of nettle root daily for 6 months, less than 1% reported mild gastrointestinal distress and only 0.19% experienced allergic reactions (skin rash). 1 For theoretical reasons, there are some concerns that nettle may interact with diabetes, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, and sedative medications, although there are no reports of any problems occurring. 2 The safety of nettle root or...