Nettles - Urtica dioica - Nettles - Urtica dioica

NETTLES



Family: Urticaceae
Genus: Urtica
Species: dioica
Common Names: Big string Nettle, Common Nettle,
Gerrais, Isirgan, Kazink, Nabat Al Nar, Ortiga, Ortiga Mayor
Part Used: Root, Leaves

DESCRIPTION

Properties/Actions: Anodyne, Antirheumatic, Antiseptic, Astringent, Bactericide, Circulatory Stimulant, Depurative Diuretic, Emmenagogueue, Glactagogue, Hemostatic, Hypoglycemic, Hypotensive, Stomachic, Vasodilator, Vermifuge
Phytochemicals: 2-methylhepten-(2)-on-(6), 5-hydroxytryptamine, Acetic-acid, Acetophenone, Acetylcholine, Alpha-tocopherol, Beta-carotene, Betaine, Bromine, Butyric-acid, Caffeic-acid, Calcium, Cellulose, Chlorophylls, Choline, Chromium, Ferulic-acid, Fluorine, Folacin, Formic-acid, Glycerol, Histamine, Koproporphyrin, Lecithin, Mucilage, P-coumaric-acid, Protoporphyrin, Scopoletin, Serotonin, SFA, Silicon, Sitosterol, Sitosterol-glucoside, Violaxanthin, Xanthophyllepoxide

Traditional Remedy:

One-half to one cup whole herb infusion 1-3 times daily or 1-3 ml of a 4:1 root tincture twice daily. 1 to 3 grams of dried leaf and/or root in tablets or capsules can be substituted if desired.
See Traditional Herbal Remedies Preparation Methods page if necessary for definitions.


Nettles, or stinging nettles, are a perennial plant growing worldwide in wasteland areas. It grows 2-7 feet high with pointed leaves and flowers of white to yellowish panicles.(1,2) Nettles have a reputation for their savage sting from the hairs and bristles present on the leaves and stems. The stinging sensation from contact with the hairs is caused by the presence of formic acid, amines (histamine, serotonin and choline).(1) The tea of the leaves and stems has been used in traditional medicine as a poultice to stop bleeding. An account of this use is recorded by Francis P. Procher, a surgeon and physician in the Southern Confederacy.(2) The nettle leaves were recommended by the plant forager Euell Gibbons as a nutritious food and as a weight loss aid .(3) Many remarkable healing properties have been attributed to nettles, including prevention of baldness, allergic rhinitis and rheumatic pain.(4) However, the nettle root is recommended as a diuretic and, relatively recently for relief of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).(5)

Nettle root constituents include lignans, scopoletin, sterols (beta sitosterol and sito-sterol-3-o-glucoside), oleannoic acid and 9-hydroxyl-10-trans-12-cis-octadecanoic acid. Other chemicals are the high molecular weight compounds such as five acids and neutral polysaccharides and isolectins.(5)

There are several clinical studies documenting the efficacy of nettle root for BPH. Dr. Varro E. Tyler reported on a paper from the 1995 Congress on Medicinal Plant Research that J.J. Lichius and colleagues showed a reduction in prostatic growth potential in mice with the administration of a high dosage of nettle root extract.(6) Another study using saw palmetto berries and nettle root extracts to treat patients with BPH showed an inhibition of the testosterone metabolites dihydrotestosterone and estrogen, thus proving to be an effective treatment.(7) Some of the more resent research on BPH and Nettles show that Nettles can interfere or block a chemical process in the body that has been linked to prostate disorders. As men age, free-floating testosterone becomes bound to albumin in a process called human sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), removing its bioavailability to the body. This chemical process is now believed to be linked to prostate disorders. In several clinical studies, nettles has demonstrated the ability to block this process which may well explain its documented effectiveness in the treatment of many prostate conditions.(8 - 10) Since testosterone is a natural aphrodisiac, and nettles makes more testosterone bioavailable for the body's use by blocking SHBG, this may also explain why nettles has recently been regarded with aphrodisiac properties.



COUNTRY ETHNOBOTANY WORLDWIDE USES
Brazil Aphrodisiac, Depurative, Diuretic, Dropsy, Dyspnea, Gout, Prostatitis, Rheumatism, Urticaria
Canada Ache, Alopecia, Anodyne, Ataxia(Locomotor), Bruise, Chest, Counterirritant, Parturition, Rheumatism
Elsewhere Bactericide, Catarrh, Dandruff, Depurative, Diuretic, Hematemesis, Hematoptysis, Hemorrhage, Massage, Menorrhagia, Metrorrhagia, Paralysis, Shigellosis, Sore, Stomachic, Tumor, Vermifuge, Wound
Europe Alopecia, Burn, Cholecystitis, Cholengitis, Constipation, Cosmetic, Cough, Depurative, Diuretic, Dropsy, Dyspnea, Epistaxis, Gout, Hair-Tonic, Hemoptysis, Homeopathy, Rheumatism, Shampoo, Tea, Urticaria
India Anodyne, Counterirritant, Evil-Eye, Gout, Rheumatism, Sprain, Suppository, Swelling
Turkey Asthma, Astringent, Blood, Bronchitis, Depurative, Diuretic, Emmenagogueue, Hemostat, Purgative, Rheumatism, Stimulant, Tonic, Vasoconstrictor, Vermifuge
U.S. Ache(Back), Cancer, Epilepsy, Fit, Insanity, Rheumatism, Tantrum



Footnotes:

  1. Wichtl, Max, 1994. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals A Handbook for Practice On A Scientific Basis, CRC Press.
  2. Review of Natural Products, Feb. 1989. Nettles, Facts and Comparison
  3. Heinerman, John, 1996. Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices.
  4. Herb of the Month, May 1996, Urtica Dioca Monograph, Bastyr University, Department of Botanical Medicine.
  5. Tyler, Varro E., 1994. Herbs of Choice, Pharmaceutical Press.
  6. Tyler, Varro E., "Secondary Products: Physiologically Active Compounds, A Congress Review," HerbalGram 36, 60-61.
  7. Koch E. and A. Biber, 1994, "Pharmacological Effects of Saw Palmetto and Urtica Extracts for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia," Urologe 34 (2):90-95
  8. Hryb, D, et.al., 1995. "The Effect of Extracts of the Roots of the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) on the Interaction of SHBG with its Receptor on Human Prostatic Membranes, " Planta Med 61:31-32.
  9. Gansser D, 1995 "Plant constituents interfering with human sex hormone-binding globulin. Evaluation of a test method and its application to Urtica dioica root extracts." Z Naturforsch [C] 50(1-2), 98-104.
  10. Hirano T, 1994, "Effects of stinging nettle root extracts and their steroidal components on the Na+,K(+)-ATPase of the benign prostatic hyperplasia." Planta Med 60(1), 30-33
  11. Vahlensieck W Jr, 1996 "Drug therapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia," Fortschr Med 114(31), 407-411.
 

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