Nettle root has been used for centuries as a traditional folk medicine to treat everything from muscle sprain to gout. Recently, nettle root has been gaining scientific attention as a natural estrogen blocker, particularly in Europe where it is widely used as a therapy for benign prostate hyperplasia.
Benign Prostate Hyperplasia
The prostate is a male reproductive gland that helps expel semen during ejaculation. Benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH, is a fairly common condition in men as they age. One large factor in prostate enlargement is the volume of circulating estrogens, which typically increases as men age. Nettle root contains chemicals that decrease the production of estradiol and estrone by inhibiting production of an enzyme called aromatase that is necessary for their production, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Other Excess Estrogen Conditions
Excess estrogen is associated with many health problems besides BPH, both in men and in women. Many menopausal women suffer from a condition known as estrogen dominance syndrome, which has been linked to diseases such as insulin resistance, fibrocystic breast disease, breast cancer, endometriosis, fibroids and ovarian cysts. Other symptoms associated with excess estrogen levels in women include dry skin, vaginal dryness, menstrual irregularities, depression, weight gain and migraines. In addition to prostate enlargement, men who suffer from excess estrogen levels may exhibit enlarged breasts, loss of muscle mass and varying degrees of sexual dysfunction. Other symptoms associated with excess estrogen levels in men include atherosclerosis, heightened risk for strokes and heart attacks and hormonal cancers.
Nettle root is an herbal supplement that is sometimes used as a traditional treatment for excess estrogen. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that human tests found the impact of nettle treatment on BPH to be similar to the impact of finasteride, a medication often used to treat BPH. Nettle root is widely available in health food stores and herbal emporiums as capsules, tablets, extracts, dried leaf, tinctures and tea. It’s also commonly found as an ingredient in nutritional supplements. The amount of nettle root may differ in each of these preparations, so it is difficult to determine an exact therapeutic dose. Therefore, you should follow your doctor's recommendations regarding intake.
Medicinal herbs have been used safely for hundreds of years. Nevertheless, it is best to take them under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner. Some individuals may notice such side effects as stomach upset, fluid retention and mild diarrhea when taking nettle; your doctor will be able to tell you if these are a serious concern for you.
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Nettle
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- Life Extension Magazine: Dangers of Excess Estrogen In the Aging Male
- MedlinePlus: Estrogen
- University of Washington: Estrogen
- Acupunture Center of Ann Arbor: Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Nettle
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Stinging Nettle