Puberty in men and women is due in part by the production and release of testosterone. Contrary to popular belief, this hormone is also produced by women, yet men produce significantly more testosterone than women. The Institute of Men’s Health states testosterone in men is responsible for regulating sexual behavior, enhancing energy, controlling mood as well as assisting the body in muscle development. Vitality Rejuvenation Clinic cites a report from "Life Extension" magazine stating testosterone in women helps stabilize sexual libido, regulate muscle strength and sustain bone mass. While the effectiveness of nettle on testosterone levels is under debate, initial research is promising in regards to maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
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Scientists have isolated more than 50 compounds within nettle. The type of compound and concentration of said compounds vary according to the portion of the plant used. Some of the active compounds within nettle include plant sterols, oleanol acid, acetylcholine, histamine, flavonol glycosides and a total of six various isolectins. Due to these compounds, nettle is traditionally used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, joint pain, urinary tract infections, tendonitis and hay fever.
Nettle and Testosterone
The six isolectins found in nettle are shown to inhibit testosterone from binding with sex hormone binding globulin, or SHBG, which is responsible for maintaining hormonal balance in your body. Once excessive testosterone binds to SHBG, it is not bioavailable to be utilized by your body, thus causing a decrease in free testosterone levels. Free testosterone is testosterone readily available to be used by your body.
According to Rain Tree Nutrition Tropical Plant Database, nettle has been shown to decrease the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone by inhibiting the production of a chemical responsible for the conversion. While dihydrotestosterone occurs naturally in men as they age, this form of testosterone is linked to hair loss and prostate tissue growth known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. The true effects of dihydrotestosterone are under debate within the scientific community; however, German researchers report in “Der Urologe A” stinging nettle root extract may be beneficial for reducing benign prostatic hyperplasia symptoms and severity.
The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests consuming nettle tea three to four times per day. To do so, boil 2/3 cup of water and pour the boiling water over 3 to 4 tsp. of dried nettle root or leaves. Allow the tea to steep for three to five minutes. Strain and consume.
While the use of nettle is considered safe, this herb may cause upset stomach, fluid retention and menstrual cycle disturbance. Pregnant and lactating women should not consume nettle. More serious, yet rare, side effects include erectile dysfunction and decreased semen count. Discuss the use of nettle with your physician prior to starting a supplementation routine – especially if you’re currently taking prescription medications.