nettles (generic name)
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CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Bazoton®, big string nettle, Brennessel (German), bull nettle, chichicaste, common nettle, dog nettle, extract of Radicis Urticae (ERU), Fragdor®, garden nettle, gerrais, grand ortie (French), grande ortie, great stinging nettle, great nettle, greater nettle, gross d'ortie, Hostid®, isirgan, kazink, Kleer®, nabat al nar, nessel (German), nettle, nettles, ortic (Italian), ortie, ortiga (Spanish), pokrywa grosse brenessel, Prostaforton®, Prostagalen®, racine d'ortie small nettle (Urtica urens), stingers, urtica, Urtica dioica, Urtica dioica agglutinin (UDA), Urtica herba/folium (dried leaves or aerial parts of U. dioica and U. urens), Urtica major, Urtica radix (root), Urticaceae, urtiga, zwyczajna (Polish).
The genus name Urtica comes from the Latin verb urere meaning, "to burn," because of its urticate (stinging) hairs that cover the stem and underside of the leaves. The species name dioica means "two houses" because the plant usually has male or female flowers.
The most common uses for stinging nettle are treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, enlarged prostate), arthritis, allergies and pain, cough, tuberculosis, as an astringent and expectorant, urinary tract disorders, and externally as a hair and scalp remedy for oily hair and dandruff. It is also frequently used as a diuretic to increase the flow of urine. There are some data supporting the use of nettle in the treatment of symptoms of BPH, but solid clinical data are lacking for other indications.
Nettle is generally regarded as safe because the plant is also used as a green, leafy vegetable. Other than urticaria ("hives") from contacting the stinging hairs, gastrointestinal discomfort is the only reported adverse effect.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
For many years, a freeze-dried preparation of Urtica dioica has been prescribed by physicians and sold over-the-counter for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. However, additional study is needed to support the use of nettle in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
Nettle is widely used as a folk remedy to treat arthritic and rheumatic conditions throughout Europe and in Australia. Preliminary evidence suggests that certain constituents in the nettle plant have anti-inflammatory and/or immunomodulatory activity. More study is needed to confirm these findings.
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH):
Stinging nettle is used rather frequently in Europe in the treatment of symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). Early evidence suggests an improvement in symptoms, such as the alleviation of lower urinary tract symptoms associated with stage I or II BPH, as a result of nettle therapy. Additional study is warranted in this area.
Preliminary study has examined the effect of a combination product containing nettle applied on the skin. Early results do not appear to confirm nettle as an effective therapy for itching caused by insect bites. Additional study is warranted in this area.
Nettle has historically been used in several different forms to treat pain of varying origins. However, there is a lack of available scientific evidence to confirm this use and additional study is needed.
One study has examined the effect of a mouthwash containing nettle on plaque and gingivitis in healthy adults, and did not find any benefit. Further studies are required before a strong recommendation can be made.