Have you ever been stung by a nettle? It’s hard to forget that burning sensation, the pain and burning from hives and blisters. Stinging nettles are found all over the world, and bloom every year. It’s almost impossible to get away from the invasive plant.
What Is Nettle Tea
In one of those strange-but-true twists of nature, it turns out that the plant that can cause you so much harm could be the very solution to treating your problems. The stinging nettle, Latin name, Urtica dioica, has been used medicinally since at least 3 B.C. In medieval times, it was used to treat pain in joints, as well as act as a diuretic. Today, nettle root is used to treat urinary problems associated with an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), urinary tract infections and hay fever. Nettle leaf, meanwhile, is most commonly used to treat pain, osteoarthritis, allergies and hay fever. The leaves and stems can be eaten in a salad, cooked into soup or made into a tea, but the nettle root is more likely to be extracted with alcohol to make a tincture, dried and taken in capsules, or dried and made into a tea. The plant has few known side effects, but as with any medicinal preparation, you may want to consult a health care practitioner before adding nettles to your diet or treatment plan.
Nettle Tea Benefits
Nettle tea affects the kidneys directly. “Nettle is a diuretic. [It] increases urine output and removal of uric acid (under physician supervision). Thus it can be useful for edema, inflammatory arthritis or gout,” says naturopath Dr. Robert Kachko, ND, LAc. Studies show that by combining nettle with saw palmetto, patients can find relief from urinary problems. In addition to affecting the kidneys, “nettle has many constituents and is considered one of our most nutritive herbs, we call it a ‘trophorestorative’ for this reason,” says Dr. Kachko. “Its main constituents are flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol), carotenoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin K1, triterpenes, sterols and minerals.” Ten grams of nettle contains 290 milligrams of calcium and 86 milligrams of magnesium. In comparison, 10 grams of raw spinach contains 10 milligrams of calcium and 8 milligrams of magnesium. If you’re no Popeye, try nettle tea for some of your daily nutrition needs.
Nettle Tea for Allergies
Hay fever affects millions of people, and nettle tea is effective in controlling the itching and sneezing typically associated with it. A study at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine concluded that 58% of the participants who were given freeze-dried nettles for treatment of hay fever experienced a reduction in symptoms. Since over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines can have side effects like drowsiness, seizures and dry mouth, nettle tea is a good alternative for people with sensitivities.
Nettle Tea for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
The diuretic nature of nettle tea improves kidney function, and as a result can improve the symptoms associated with BPH. It “improves frequency, urgency, urinary flow, and can also lower the sex hormone binding globulin which impacts testosterone levels,” says Dr. Kachko. So not only can it potentially improve your kidneys if you have BPH, it might also put your sex life back on track. According to the book “Campbell-Walsh Urology,” extracts from the roots of stinging nettle contain phytotherapeutic products made up of plant oils, fatty acid chains, phytosterols and phytoestrogens. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects, alter growth factors, regulate lipid peroxidation, inhibit 5alpha-reductase and protect the bladder as well as the muscles that control its function.
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