Hopefully you haven’t had many real life encounters with nettle (Urtica Dioica)—also called “stinging nettle,” it grows in temperate climates and its stinging hairs and leaves can cause nasty hives. The hives, formally called urticaria, produce pale red, itchy, raised bumps (in fact, the Latin root of Urtica is uro meaning, “I burn”). The upshot: Avoid the fresh leaves of this plant, and use it instead for its powerful medicinal qualities that can strengthen and support the whole body.
Nettle is considered a nutritive; it provides the body with a multitude of minerals, vitamins, proteins and dietary fiber. Nettle can support the urinary tract and serve as a diurectic. Nettle is also readily known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine effects.
Nettles help tonify [can be briefly say what this means?] mucous membranes in addition to helping stop bleeding (as a hemostatic) and supporting breast milk production. Nettle is a hypotensive, assisting the heart by decreasing blood pressure, and is considered an astringent as it helps to shrink or constrict body tissues.
Talk to a practitioner about the potential uses of nettle for the following conditions:
- Chronic inflammation in the body
- Excessive mucus discharge (non-stop runny nose)
- Burning or difficulty urinating
- Allergies (runny nose and stinging eyes)
- Arthritis and gout
- Profuse menstruation
- Suppressed milk flow in breastfeeding
- Skin conditions such as eczema (especially in children), psoriasis, chicken pox, poison ivy, rashes and insect stings/bites
- Benign prostatic hypertension (the nettle root is especially good for this)
We carry the following nettle products at Pharmaca:
Herb Pharm’s Nettle Blend
Pharmaca Nettles Caps or Tincture
Gaia Herbs’ Nettle Leaf Caps or Tincture
Eclectic Institute (in stores only)
Though nettle has a multitude of uses, one of its most common uses is for seasonal allergies. Try using nettle to combat your runny nose and itchy eyes thanks to its antihistamine and astringent properties, which is why, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, many practitioners recommend taking it throughout allergy season (including Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, a member of Pharmaca’s Integrative Health Advisory Board).
As always, please consult with a practitioner before taking any herbal remedies.
Kate Brainard earned her degree as a naturopathic doctor from Bastyr University. She currently manages Pharmaca’s La Jolla store.