Nettle, also known as Urtica Dioica is a flowering plant that causes a burning sensation once it comes into contact with the skin. The plant gets its name from Latin, which means to burn, hence the name stinging nettle. In Kenya one of its names is thafai.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that nettle doesn’t have some health benefits and medicinal value. In fact, in ancient Egypt stinging nettle was used as a staple herbal medicine to treat lower back pain and arthritis. Even though the plant is mostly cursed upon by homeowners, hikers and gardeners, the Roman troops rubbed it on themselves to stay awake and alert.
But what are the benefits of stinging nettle?
- Packed with nutrients
Even though it is widely known for its stinging characteristics, nettle is a nutrient powerhouse that is packed with different nutrients and minerals. These include iron, vitamin A, C, K, B2, as well as calcium, copper, manganese and fatty acids. Check out the benefits of vitamin C.
Nettle delivers antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids into the body, which fight against free radicals and oxidative stress. It is shown that stinging nettle can raise blood antioxidants levels and this gives the body the needed nutrients to combat skin damage, ailments and cancer.
However, since it cannot be used straight out of the garden, unless you want to burn each time you use it, it is processed into supplements, cooked or freeze-dried for optimum use. You can also find it in other forms such as creams, capsules, tinctures and ointments.
2. Urinary pain in men
Population-based studies have shown that stinging nettle is used to treat urination problems commonly experienced due to a condition known as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). These urinary problems are experienced in older men and are often accompanied by pain and discomfort when urinating.
Since BPH occurs because of an enlarged prostate, nettle is said to reduce the size of the enlarged prostate thus treating the symptoms that lead to the pain and urinary discomfort.
Inflammation is the common cause of ailments in the body. Stinging nettle interferes with the production of inflammatory hormones and thus applying a nettle based cream or consuming nettle supplements relieves pain and conditions such as arthritis.
The sting from the nettle was traditionally used as the treatment for arthritis. Nowadays, nettle ointments are used to relieve osteoarthritis symptoms.
4. Respiratory ailments
When cooked or inhaled as a decongestant, stinging nettle combats respiratory ailments such as asthma and seasonal allergies like hay fever. Due to its high anti-inflammatory properties, it inhibits the inflammation process and stops the immune cells from releasing chemicals that lead to allergy symptoms. Stinging nettle is also referred to as an antihistamine, as it’s able to block histamine receptors relieving the body of allergic reactions. Health: 11 Natural Remedies For Chest Congestion And Asthma
5. Lowers blood pressure
Animal-based studies have shown that nettle raises the hearts antioxidants level and lowers blood pressure levels. Compounds found in stinging nettle acts as calcium channel blockers which reduces the force of contraction thus relaxing the heart. However, research is yet to be done sufficiently on human beings. What You Need To Know About Hypertension And High Blood Pressure
6. Reduce bleeding
Not only does it prevent heavy bleeding during menstruation but nettle medicated pills can reduce excessive bleeding after a surgical process. For this reason, it has been used by both menstruating women and women about to give birth. In relation to this, the plant is said to ease labour pains, improve lactation and combat lethargy.
7. Wound healing
Nettle is rich in vitamin K which makes it a suitable prescription for wound healing. It encourages blood clotting and blood circulation which gives beneficial results against burns, cuts bruises and inflammation.
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8. Promotes liver and kidney health
Nettle acts as a tonic for the blood, liver and kidney. It helps rebalance the blood pH and flushes out toxins that may damage the liver and cause kidney disorders. For this reason, nettle is a common prescription for kidney disorders as it helps in dissolving kidney stones. The antioxidants found in the plant also protect the liver against inflammation and damage caused by toxins. These findings are only based on animal studies.
Since nettle has shown to cause side effects that may affect the health of pregnant mothers and people under medication, a doctors opinion is needed before using it for self-medication.
Check out The Health Benefits Of Neem (Mwarobaini)