What are the benefits of stinging nettle?

Kate Harris
Trainee Herbalist, Reflexologist, Yoga Teacher, Writer & Product Trainer

02 August 2021

What are the benefits of stinging nettle?

Nettle (Urtica dioica) has many health benefits. Packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as fatty acids and carotenes, nettle is also anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-allergic, which makes nettle useful in treating inflammatory skin and joint conditions such as prickly heat and gout. They also have a mild blood sugar lowering ability.

6 health benefits of stinging nettle

So, let's take a closer look at 6 ways Stinging Nettle can benefit your health:

1. Nettles are packed full of nutrients

Stinging nettle, also known as Urtica dioica or the common nettle is super nutritious, which is why cooked nettles have been eaten for years. The leaves are packed full of nutrients; Vitamin C, K, B vitamins, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium. Nettle leaves are more nutritious than some cultivated veg!
As well as vitamins and minerals, they also contain fatty acids, carotenes and essential oils.

2. They are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative

They also contain flavonoids, which are known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative. All parts of the nettle plant are health-promoting, the seeds and roots having their own benefits. However, nettle leaves are most often used in over-the-counter formulations.
Nettles leaves stop the action and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are proteins released by our cells that influence how other cells behave, especially in response to infection and inflammation which makes nettle useful in inflammatory skin or joint conditions.

3. They can help ease allergic rhinitis, hayfaver and prickly heat

Nettle is anti-allergenic. It counters excess histamine in cases of hay fever, allergic rhinitis, and prickly heat. (1)

4. They can help ease skin problems such as itchy skin and acne

It has a cleansing action by supporting the body's excretory organs. This helps in skin complaints such as rashes, itchy skin and acne.

5. They can be used to help treat rheumatic disorders

Nettle dispels excess uric acid build-up in the small joints which can happen in gouty arthritis and rheumatic disorders such as gout and fibromyalgia.

6. Nettle can have a mild blood sugar lowering ability

A mild blood-sugar lowering action has been attributed to a glucoquinone present in nettles called urticin. Nettles may also help to inhibit the effects of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down carbohydrates and potentially causing more of a spike in blood glucose levels.
In a study involving 50 women with type II diabetes, 8 weeks of treatment with stinging nettle versus placebo saw significant decreases in fasting plasma glucose and triglyceride levels and significant increases in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). (2)

Although the study was small in size and short in duration, the results are promising for nettles being used to decrease some of the risk factors involved with diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

How to take nettle

Nettles can be eaten as food or consumed via tea, as well as taken as a herbal remedy in tablets or liquid extract (drops).

In the past, in countries with long winters, fresh nutrient-dense food was scarce for half the year. Nettles were the first fresh food available and were used as a spring cleanse due to their rich vitamin and mineral content.

To utilise nettle's benefits for yourself, try harvesting young nettle tops from an area free from chemical sprays. Place your harvest in a teapot and cover with boiled water. Let it steep for at least 5 minutes before straining and drinking.

You can also cook the nettle tops, adding them to soups or stews. Use them just like spinach or other leafy greens. It's a good idea to wear gloves while you are picking nettles to avoid getting stung, but once cooked or immersed in hot water the sting will disappear.

If all of that seems like a little too much work, there are plenty of ready-made nettle products available in health food stores and pharmacies. You can get nettle in tea bags, tablets, or a liquid extract (drops) such as a fresh herb tincture, which can be added to a little water. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for dosage.

Safety considerations

Excessive use may interact with concurrent treatment for diabetes, high or low blood pressure. As with any supplement, it is important to stick to the recommended dose outlined by the manufacturer.


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  • Tara's photo avatar
    Tara — 08.08.2021 11:18
    I drink it as often as I can


    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 09.08.2021 08:07
      Great to hear that, Tara, enjoy!


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