The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Translate:

Nettle

Scientific Names

Stinging Nettle

  • Urtica dioica L.
  • Uricaceae
  • Nettle family

Common Names

  • Chinese nettle
  • Common nettle
  • Common stinging nettle
  • Great nettle
  • Great stinging nettle
  • Hsieh-tzu-ts’ao
  • Stinging nettle

Back to Top


Parts Usually Used

Whole plant
Back to Top


Stinging Nettle

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

A most potent herb, the many qualities compensating for the stung fingers that inevitably accompany the harvest. The sting is caused by the formic acid in the plant and can be soothed by rubbing the spot with dock leaves (Rumex obtusifolus). Providence, somehow, usually plants the dock alongside the nettle beds. Nettle is like a beast with a heart of gold.

Nettle is a perennial 2-7 feet high: the root is creeping and branching, the plant is clothed in stinging hairs and bears opposite, cordate, deeply serrate, pointed leaves which are downy underneath; heart-shaped, finely toothed leaves and it has a clump of upright, four-angled, 1-2 foot stems are covered with downy hair and with venomous spines; emits an acrid fluid when touched, causing pain. Each spine is a hollow needle filled with venom which is released whenever the plant is brushed. The venom stings like a bee and produces a red rash. The virulent qualities are destroyed by cooking (boiling or steaming) or drying the plant. The small, petal-less, greenish flowers grow in axillary clusters in “tassels”, male and female on separate plants; blooms from July to September. Fruits are small nutlets enclosed in dried sepals.

Varieties: Urtica gracilis Ait.; Urticastrum divaricatum L.; Urtica urens L.

The plant U. urens, a dwarf variety, is used interchangeably with U. dioica.
Back to Top


Where Found

Found on waste land, vacant lots, pastures and in hedges, nettles can be found in plenty. Found all over the world.
Back to Top


Medicinal Properties

Astringent, hemostatic, diuretic, galactagogue (promotes flow of milk), lowers blood sugar levels, expectorant, tonic, nutritive, styptic, rubefacient
Back to Top


Biochemical Information

Formic acid, silicon, potassium, tannins, glucoquinones, histamine, acerylocholine, serotonin, chlorophyll, carbonic acid, mucilage, magnesium, iron, many minerals and vitamins A, B, and C.
Back to Top


Legends, Myths and Stories

Nine of the 30 species of Urtica are found in the United States and Canada growing wild.

It is an old English custom to drink nettle tea on occasion. This habit was believed to have been brought with the Roman conquerors to the Isles, who used the tea as a bracer in the rigorous climate.

Nettle is often an ingredient in herbal prescriptions. The addition of nettle leaves to Oriental tea in a proportion of 1 part nettle to 3 parts tea, makes a cup of tea well appreciated by the connoisseur. It is said that the flavor is improved if the mixture is stored for some times before using.

A novel use of the nettle plant was as a counter-irritant in rheumatic cases. The afflicted person was “whipped” on the rheumatic joint with whole plants. The idea was that the pain of nettle stings would make the sufferer forget the pain of the rheumatism.

Caesar’s troops introduced the Roman nettle (U. pilulifera) into Britain because they thought that they would need to flail themselves with nettles to keep warm.

Nettle rash can be relieved by applying the juice of the leaves themselves, thus taking away the stinging of the nettles.

It is said that if hens are given dry nettles in the winter, broken in small pieces, with their food, they will fatten and increase egg production all winter long. When nettle is cut and allowed to wilt, used as fodder for livestock, it is said to increase the amount of milk produced. In Germany, dried nettle is mixed with feed for thin horses suffering digestive troubles. Horse dealers mixed the nettle seed with oats and other feeds to give the animals a sleek coat. In Egypt, oil from the nettle seeds is used in burning lamps.

The Russians make a beautiful green dye for woolens from the nettle plant. The root boiled with alum makes a yellow dye. The tall stalks yield a stronger and finer fiber than flax. The Germans used this in place of cotton in World War II.

According to an old recipe book, steel dipped in the juice of the nettle becomes flexible.
Back to Top


Uses

Widely used to treat rheumatism and poor circulation, but also cures bronchitis, prevents scurvy, reduces the risk of hemorrhage, neuralgia, scrofula, sore throat, sore mouth, sciatica, vaginal yeast infections, anemia, increases milk flow for nursing mothers, lowers blood sugar, joint aches, neuralgia, gout, first stages of dropsy, bee stings, whooping cough, expel worms, and dispels melancholia.

The leaves may be boiled and then eaten like any green vegetable, or else used for an infusion. A decoction may also be made from the root, this is good for dissolving renal (kidney) stones and other internal obstructions. Old herbals say that nettles are useful in weight-reducing diets. Treats tuberculosis, anemia, clorosis, rickets, scrofula, lymphatic problems. A good spring tonic. Boiled leaves applied externally will stop bleeding almost immediately. Externally applied for eczema.

A tincture made of the seeds is recommended for goiter and low thyroid. In raising the thyroid function, it effectively reduces the associated obesity.

The warm tea is used for asthma, hay fever, allergies, colds, fever, grippe, flu, mucous condition of the lungs, pleurisy, leprosy, diarrhea, cholecystitis, dysentery, hemorrhoids, various hemorrhages, scorbutic affections, and mucous in the colon in adults.

Boiling the entire plant in a mixture of vinegar and water, then adding eau de cologne was supposed to produce a good hair lotion. Combing the hair with expressed nettle juice was supposed to stimulate hair growth, bring back the natural color of the hair. Or dip fingers in and thoroughly massage the scalp and it will cure dandruff.

Pulped nettle leaves make a marvelous compress and bring cooling relief when inflammation is present.
Back to Top


Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 2 to 3 tbsp. leaves or plant in 1 cup water for 10 minutes.

Juice: mix with an equal amount of water and take 1 tsp. at a time.

Extract: mix 5 to 10 drops in liquid daily.

Scalp wash: boiled 3 to 4 oz. chopped leaves in 2 cups water and 2 cups vinegar for a short time.
Back to Top


Nutrient Content

Vitamins A and C, magnesium and iron
Back to Top


How Sold

Capsules: take 1 to 2 capsules daily. Up to 4 times per day for hayfever (not to exceed 8 capsules per day).
Back to Top


Warning

Do not eat uncooked plants, especially old plants uncooked; they can produce kidney damage and symptoms of poisoning.

Handle the plants with care.

The bristly hairs of the nettle plant act like a tiny hypodermic needles, injecting an irritant substance under the skin when touched: handle with care.
Back to Top


Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., Simon & Schuster/Fireside, Rockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020

Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Back to Top

Share