Nettle leaf has been used medicinally for hundreds for years. Nettles are perennial plants that are native to Europe. Nettles leaves, also called stinging nettles, contain fine hairs that release painful and irritating chemicals when they come in contact with the skin. The heart-shaped leaves have fine teeth surrounding its edges. Nettle leaves are dried and used in extracts, capsules, tinctures and teas.
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Nettle is used medicinally for its anti-inflammatory properties. Nettle extracts help inhibit pro-inflammatory signaling molecules, which can trigger inflammation in the body. Nettle may help to reduce inflammation in the urinary tract, arthritis inflammation and skin inflammation such as eczema.
A study published in the “Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine” in June 2000 reports that nettle leaf can reduce osteoarthritic pain in the base of the thumb when applied to the painful area. Patients' pain diaries and health assessments over the course of 12 weeks showed that pain and disability decreased more with stinging nettle treatment than with the placebo given. Stinging nettle seems to contain an analgesic effect and may interfere with the way the body transmits pain signals.
Nettle is useful in controlling hay fever symptoms and other allergic responses in the body. Nettle may have antihistamine properties, which helps lower the amount of histamine in the body and can reduce allergic reactions such as sneezing and itching. Traditionally, nettle was used as an expectorant and may help reduce hay fever congestion. Additional clinical studies are needed.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Stinging nettle may help reduce the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. The University of Maryland Medical notes that stinging nettle may relieve reduced urinary flow, the constant urge to urinate and the inability to empty the bladder completely, which are associated with an enlarged prostate. A study published in the journal “Phytomedicine” in August 2007 reports that nettle contains sex hormone-binding globulin, which may be responsible for its anti-prostatic effect. Additional clinical research is needed. Speak with a medical physician about benign prostatic hyperplasia to rule out the possibility of prostate cancer.