An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.
Nettle, Stinging - Urtica dioica - family: Urticaceae (Nettle Family).
This is a perennial plant that may grow to about eight feet in height. Its deeply-toothed oval-to-heart-shaped dark green leaves have many tiny stinging needles. It produces clusters of tiny greenish flowers in the summer, which are followed by small yellow-to-brownish seeds (achenes). Traditional use of leaves and roots as one of the ingredients of witches' brews in Europe in the Middle Ages. Its leaves and roots have long been used in European folk medicine as a remedy for asthma, gall bladder problems, hay fever and inflammation. Flowering tops approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for bladder stones, kidney stones, rheumatism and urinary tract infections. Roots have been approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for prostate problems. Leaves and roots are currently used internally in North America as a remedy for allergies, eczema, gout, hay fever, osteoporosis and psoriasis. Thought by some to be of use in anemia. Traditional European folk use of dried leaves as a poultice for gout and skin problems. Modern European use of leaves and roots as a remedy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a disorder of the prostate gland in which the urine flow is reduced. Modern American folk use as a support tonic during pregnancy. Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, it may be of use as a remedy for arthritis. Under the name Bichu, Stinging Nettle was used as one of the Ayurvedic medicinal herbs. Drying or cooking the leaves eliminates the stinging needles. Dried young leaves are used as a base for an herbal tea. Note: avoid consumption of old plants in the uncooked state, as they contain some calcium oxalate which in quantity may damage the kidneys. Note: Nettle should always be cooked to be on the safe side. Note: side effects may include constipation and indigestion. Note: do not use if suffering from kidney problems or congestive heart failure. Note: one authority suggests that internal consumption may cause a rise in blood glucose levels: monitoring and caution is advised for diabetics. The roots will yield a yellow dye. Native to Europe. Naturalized in eastern, central and western North America. Naturalized in California. Cultivated as an herb in North America.
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Web page last updated on 22 May 2003.