You may be aware of the troublesome weed commonly referred to as stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, but what you may not know is that nettle has long been used medicinally to treat a wide variety of symptoms and diseases from anemia to cardiovascular disease. Although nettle for weight loss has not been studied, weight loss experts such as Gillian McKeith claim that nettle tea is a must have for any weight loss regime.
Originally native to the Mediterranean region, Nettle -- Anglo-Saxon for “plant” -- is a quick growing and creeping weed brought to Britain by the Romans who attempted to fight the cold climate by rubbing it on their skin. Its fibrous, sturdy stem was also used in sewing, hence the word needle. Growing in moist, rich soil the nettle can reach heights of over 5 feet. Its green leaves are covered in tiny hairs that contain skin irritants.
Nettle leaves must be steamed or boiled to destroy the stinging hairs containing numerous acids that cause itching and burning to the skin that can last for days. If you aren't up for a tromp in the woods, nettle tea can be purchased loose or in individual sachets at health food stores and some major grocery store chains.
In his article, “Nettles, beyond the stinging,” naturopathic practitioner Terri Willard, Ph.D., states that nettle is used effectively in the treatment of many chronic conditions and is among the safest of herbs that cleanse the system. He says that nettle is a lymphatic system stimulant that induces the kidneys to release metabolic waste. Because of this, he says, its has remained a reputable tool in alternative medicine for the treatment and management of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. As cited in the 2007 Alternative Medicine Review, this herb has been shown effective in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, cardiovascular disease, urinary tract conditions, arthritis and allergic rhinitis, often in combination with modern medicine. No adverse side effects have been discovered.
Effect on Weight
Although no official studies have been done as of yet regarding the affect of nettle on weight loss, the herb with its cleansing properties may help shed the pounds by effectively ridding the body of unwanted metabolic waste. The reduction of stored waste in muscle tissue and throughout the lymphatic system allows your body to function more productively. Gillian McKeith, author and television show host of “You Are What You Eat,” recommends in her book "Slim for Life" 3 to 4 cups per day of nettle tea as it “boosts metabolism and is a natural appetite suppressant.”
So perhaps switching your gym bag for a tea bag is not the panacea for weight loss, but rather it may be that adding nettle tea to a healthy eating and exercise regime assists your efforts in shedding those unwanted pounds. Although there are no documented side effects for nettle tea, consult your doctor before adding nettle to your diet if you are taking prescription diuretics, have contraindications for diuretics or have a history of kidney problems. Since nettle is a diuretic, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
- The Herb Bible: A Complete Guide to Growing and Using Herbs; Jeannie Harding
- Slim for Life; Gillian McKeith
- Alternative Medicine Review; Urtica dioica; Volume 12,Number 3
- Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition; Nettles, beyond the sting; Terry Willard, CIH, PhD