Traditional uses of nettle

Nettle is an herb commonly appears on the edges of fields and temperate forests. The plant is covered with hollow hairs that contain acetylcholine and other potent substances by contact with skin, hairs are broken, injecting these substances into the skin and causing a stinging pain (from which the name of the plant). Despite the unpleasant sensation that causes, is not harmful, on the contrary, has many health benefits.

Urtica dioica is a perennial grass covered with stinging hairs growing from 60 centimeters to 2 meters high, it has an erect stem, square and sometimes woody, with stipules of 5 to 15 mm long.

Nettle can easily spread a mint-like form, separating a segment of the root to replant. The plant prefers a moist soil rich in nutrients, like fertile soil of temperate (their native habitat) forest. In a favorable environment, nettle grows and reproduces rapidly, so it is considered an invasive herb and can be difficult to control in certain regions.

Fiber; In Europe, nettle is fairly valued by the durable fiber contained in the stems of the mature plant, which rope and fabric is manufactured. Nettle fiber was considered comparable to that of flax and hemp with respect to quality.

Food and medicine; Nettle contains many vitamins and minerals, also has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. It has been used as food and medicine for centuries on all continents of the world. It can be used fresh or dried.

Leaves: The most common uses for nettle are as food and as a remedy for chronic pain

Nettles as food: The young leaves are very nutritious and hairs are removed when cooked. This herb is part of the traditional cuisine in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas, in Europe eaten steamed and Asia is a common ingredient in soups. It is a food traditionally recommended for pregnant and lactating women; it is also a home remedy for anemia due to its high iron content. In general it is very useful to strengthen the blood and liver.

Nettle pain: Application of the stinging hairs for chronic pain may be the oldest and most common nettle use. The same substances that cause pain by rubbing the skin cause several changes that, for people who already suffer from pain, decrease it. This phenomenon is called counterirritation. The counterirritation has been used for centuries to relieve arthritis, muscle paralysis and sciatica pain, this is accomplished by slamming the painful part with nettle branches. Nettle also contains anti-inflammatory substances and improve circulation. In clinical trials, the extract of the leaves was fairly effective in reducing the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

Nettle tea: tea or infusion nettle is a home remedy for gout, anemia, edema, eczema and chronic skin conditions, calculi (kidney stones) and urinary inflammation. Some people recommend (in combination with proper exercise and diet) to lose weight. Nettle tea has also taken to control excessive menstrual bleeding and to increase milk production, the indigenous people of the Americas as recommended during pregnancy because they believed that produced healthy and young infants (thus facilitating delivery). The infusion of nettle also applied as a foot bath for rheumatic pain.

Other uses of nettle leaf: steamed and seasoned with a little cider vinegar, nettle leaves as an expectorant is ingierĂ­an to remedy pulmonary congestion. In some cases, the smoke of the burning leaves is recommended to relieve asthma and bronchitis.

Root: Preparations and extracts of the dried root are comparable finasteride to treat urinary symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia, but with fewer side effects.


Foster, Steven and Johnson, Rebecca L. Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine. National Geographic Society, 2006; University of Michigan-Dearborn, Native American Ethnobotany Database;. Weiss, Gaea and Shandor. Growing and Using the Healing Herbs. Rodale Press, 1985.