Herb - What is Stinging Nettle | Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettle, Stinging Nettles

Urtica dioica Urticaceae
Until the 17th century, nettle stalks were widely used for their fibres which make a hardwearing linenlike fabric. And the Germans used nettle fabric to make army uniforms in the First VVorld War when cotton ran short. The word 'nettle' comes from an old Scandinavian word, noedl, meaning needle,from the plant's needle-sharp stinging hairs. Stinging nettles colonise ditches, clearings and waste ground.


For internal use

TO TREAT rheumatic pain, fatigue, poor appetite INFUSION Put 2-4g of dried herb into 1 cup of boiling water. Drink 3 cups a day.
FRESH JUICE Drink 10-15ml three times a day.
CAPSULES (500mg) Take 3-6 capsules a day.
DRY EXTRACT Take 250mg two or three times a day.
TINCTURE (1:4 in 25% alcohol) Take 20 drops in water three times a day after meals.
TO TREAT urination difficulties linked to prostate problems INFUSION Put 2-4g of dried herb into 1 cup of boiling water. Drink 3 cups a day.
CAPSULES (300mg) Take 3-6 capsules a day.
LIQUID EXTRACT Put 30-60 drops into a glass of water. Take three to six times a day.

For external use

TO TREAT skin and scalp conditions
STEWED LEAVES OR ROOTS Apply as a poultice twice a day.


Parts used

  • Leaves and roots
  • The plant is harvested in May and June before flowering when the stinging hairs are rich in histamine and serotonin.
  • The leaves are used fresh or dried to make infusions.
  • The roots may be dried and powdered for capsules or used fresh.
  • Both leaves and roots are crushed to yield juices.


The leaves contain both iron and vitamin C - which aids iron absorption. They also contain other minerals, especially calcium, potassium and silicic acid, as well as phenols and flavonoids.

The roots are rich in polysaccharides, lecithin, several phenolic compounds and sterols.

Medicinal uses

'Urtication', or flogging the affected parts with nettles, was an old remedy for painful rheumatic joints. Today, treatment is less brutal. Nettle is prescribed internally as a diuretic as it can increase elimination of sodium and urea, thus helping to ease rheumatic and arthritic conditions. And the leaves are also strongly anti-inflammatory, as shown by German in vitro studies in 1999. A nettle infusion is a good tonic: it stimulates the appetite, provides iron and fights fatigue.

The fresh root may help prostate and urination problems: German research in Planta Medica in 2000 observed that the root inhibited the growth of prostate tissue. Italian research in 2002 suggests that root extracts may be useful in reducing blood pressure.Externally, nettle is used for acne, eczema, greasy skin and dandruff.


  • If taken over a long period, nettle leaves can cause skin rashes.
  • May cause gastric inflammation.
  • Do not self-prescribe for prostate problems - seek medical advice.
  • Do not use if taking medication to treat diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or to depress the central nervous system.
  • Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.


Nettles can be cultivated from seed planted in spring in a moist, loamy soil and in sun or light shade.


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