Genus and Species

acetylcholine, fiber, formic acid, sulfur



Common nettle, stinging nettle, big string nettle

Parts Used

Leaf and seeds and roots


Salty, sweet, bitter

Common Names

Degree of Action

1st degree

Tissue States

Depression, atrophy, stagnation


Iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C, flavonoids, proteins, B vitamins, chlorophyll, indolesas well. Nettles not only contains high amount of these macominerals but contains many vitamins and microminerals as well. The scope of nettles nutrient profile helps us to absorb each nutrient more efficiently than we might if we were taking just one nutrient by itself. An infusion of nettles has helped many women improve their bone density levels and is often used in pregnancy as an iron tonic. It has been used to help children with growing pains.Matthew Wood (The Earthwise Herbal – A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants) explains how nettles has an affinity for helping the body utilize proteins. The fact that it grows downstream from septic systems, outhouses and compost piles indicates to us it’s ability to process proteins effectively. He explains how this begins by helping us digest proteins more effectively and then works more deeply by enhancing the liver’s ability to build blood proteins. Its use in gout, arthritic tissues, muscle pain and kidney disease is most likely due to its ability to remove protein waste from the body. Nettles is a wonderful aid in reducing allergy symptoms. This effect is due to nettles function as a mast cell stabilizer. One way nettles stabilizes mast cells is by inhibiting the release of leukotrienes from mast cells. For best results, a tea made from freeze dried nettles or a tincture of fresh nettles works best for this. The root also may be used to stimulate-cell production in cases of allergies. I have used nettles in two clients with histamine intolerance issues with very good results. Nettles has a long history as a kidney tonic and has been used as a spring tonic to warm and nourish the kidneys after a cold winter. In fact the best time to pick nettles for food and medicine is in the spring before it has formed seeds. It is also used as a potassium sparing diuretic to the kidneys, thus helping in cases of edema or “dropsy”. It acts also as a mild astringent to the urinary tract and helps in mild cases of bladder infections by flushing the excess fluid through the kidneys. Nettle seeds have been used by many herbalists to help get people of dialysis.Nettle root are used to support prostate health and has been used along with saw palmetto with researchers concluding an effectiveness more effective than conventional drugs for benign prostatic hypertrophy. The root blocks glycoprotein sex hormone binding globulin (this hormone binds to sex hormones and causes them to be inactive) thus keeping hormones active in the body longer. Thus, nettles can be beneficial during menopause and andropause as the body transitions and hormones decline. Nettles root also blocks the production of dihydrotestosterone in the body, thus helping men and women with hair loss due to the excess production of this hormone while working on the cause of the excess DHT


Drying, astringent, coolingProperties: Diuretic, antihistamine, nutritive, kidney trophorestorative, astringent, rubifascient, styptic


It is best to gather nettles before it has gone to flower or seed. Due to its drying nature, be cautious when giving nettles to people with a dry constitution. Nettles can be a strong diuretic for some. Due to a genetic mutation which makes it difficult for the liver to process sulfur, some people need to use caution when using high amounts of nettles due to its high sulfur content.


Nettles is considered a food and so can be consumed in larger quantities. Pick in the spring before nettles begins to go to seed. Be sure to pick with gloves as the nettles may sting you as you pick them. When starting with fresh plant, do not eat until they have been either cooked, pulverized or dried so as to avoid being unpleasantly stung. As a tea, use one ounce per two cups of boiling water and let steep 15 minute or more. Drink two cups daily. Add peppermint to improve the taste of the tea. Extract the fresh plant in 75-95% alcohol, 2-3 mL three times daily.

Key Uses

Arthritis, weak hair/teeth/bones, fatigue, blood deficiency, allergies, menstrual cramps and PMS, amenorrhea, growing pains, prostate weakness, kidney weakness



Nettles is known for growing in abundance in protein-rich soil in the northern hemisphere. They love fertile, rich soil and partly shaded, moist soil. I often see it growing where there is a lot of composted waste and in the past people noted it grew near outhouses and septic systems. It has a keen ability to utilize protein waste products both in nature and in our bodies. As a little girl I remember taking walks on Iowa farmland and brushing past nettles only to get a burning sting on my legs as souvenir. This sting is a biproduct of the formic acid released in the nettles which is the same chemical bees produce when they sting us. Nettles has a rich history of use that goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who cultivated nettles as a crop that they use both for food, medicine and for clothing, rope, and nets. Romans tied stalks of nettles together and would use these to flog arthritic and swollen joints. This produced a rash that was said to improve circulation to the area and thus improve the pain. Nettles is a fundamental herb in traditional Western medicine which has been used extensively since the 19th century for so many different uses because of is plethora of chemical compounds and constituents. In fact, David Hoffman, herbalist and author of Medical Herbalism is known for saying “When in doubt, choose nettle.” We understand this statement as we begin to experience the many benefits of nettles personally. Nettles has long been used as food, probably because of its abundance as well as its high nutrient content. However, before eating we need to destroy the formic acid which produces the sting. This can be done by heating, drying or mashing the nettles. We also need to wear gloves when harvesting the nettles. Herbalists use the seeds, roots and the leaves both as a tincture and a tea. To get the optimal benefit of nettles nutrients it is best to steep it as a tea. Nettles tinctures are more suited for utilizing its chemical compounds.

Clinical Uses

Nettles is known to be a wonderful blood builder because of its plethora of nutrients. It is high in calcium with 100 grams of dried nettles providing 2,900 mg of easily absorbed calcium. It is also a wonderful source of magnesium and other minerals which are important for calcium absorption. Because nettles is so high in iron, it has been used to support those with anemia


In a placebo-controlled double-blind parallel-design 12-week study of women with arthritis in the knee, a combination of nettles leaf, cat’s claw root and rose hips juice were used to determine if they would be beneficial in decreasing the pain experienced by these women. Compared to a placebo, the quality of life significantly improved with herbal combination containing the nettles. The women using the nettles combination used less analgesics compared to the placebo group. It was also reported that this group had reported a significant improvement in their mental and physical wellbeing.A double-blind study of 100 men with BPH was conducted. One group was given a placebo and another group nettles for a period of eight weeks. At two months the group taking nettles had a significant improvement in their AUA score vs the placebo group which has no significant improvement in their AUA score. The study determined that nettles has a significant improvement in the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy.


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