Plant Family: 

Urticaceae

 

Habitat & Cultivation: 

Urtica dioica belongs to the Urticaceae plant family, this tells us that the nettle is found in more of the temperate and tropical regions.  Also, this tells us that many of the plants belonging to this family have hair-like trichomes that often cause a stinging sensation and/or rash when they come in contact with skin.  The stinging or rash is usually a short-lived reaction.

 

Urtica dioica is native to Europe (Eurasia) but as people have settled in North America, the plant has migrated that way and is found in many of the temperate and tropical regions of North America.  It is less likely to find nettle in the south but it can survive just about anywhere.

 

The AHP discusses in detail some of the differences in the time and region of the cultivation of nettles.

  • Beta-carotene concentration is found to vary in plants depending upon the season and age of the plants harvested

  • Chlorophyll and carotenoid contents are found to be higher in 2-year-old plants

  • Calcium and magnesium are higher in the leaves than in the roots and are not affected by the age or harvest date of the plant

  • Iron and manganese content is higher in the leaves of young plants

  • Nickel and lead are lowest in older plants

  • Flavonoid content does not seem to be affected by plant age

  • Habitat location and plant age do not seem to contribute widely to variance of other mineral content in stinging nettle

  • Tannins in leaves triple in yield from March to August and then decrease from September to October

  • Chlorophyll content diminishes from March to August and September to October

  • High nitrogen levels in soil significantly reduced the concentration of total flavonoids, but the effect of nitrogen levels on total phenolic acids was only significant in the second harvest each year

 

Parts Used/Collection:

Leaf, root and seed

 

Harvest in spring or summer before flowering. Fresh leaves are better as a tasty food stuff. Older, tougher leaves are not as palatable but are more suitable for longer lasting dried preparations. Nettles uptake and store heavy metals, so avoid industrial areas. Process nettles as you would for dried storage. Dry the plant material and store the dried leaves in a cool, dry place out of sunlight (Upton, 2013).

 

Herbal Actions: 

  • Blood sugar amphoteric

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Local analgesic

  • Galactagogue

  • Diuretic

  • Alterative

 

Indications: 

Rheumatic complaints, edema, enlarged prostate, eczema, anemia, allergies, urinary tract issues, blood sugar dysfunction, hypertension, and low milk supply.

 

Contraindications: 

Use caution with edema due to heart or kidney dysfunction, history of bleeding disorder, and monitor electrolyte imbalances especially in elderly.

 

Plant Constituents: 

  • Leaf

    • Acids

    • Amines

    • Flavonoids

    • Nutrients/Minerals

    • Dietary fiber and protein

    • Chlorophyll

    • Tannins

    • Glucoquinones

  • Root

    • Polysaccharides

    • Tannins

 

System Affinities:

The cardiovascular and hematologic system, urinary tract system & organs, kidney, bladder, etc., and also the muscular system.

 

Energetics: 

According to Wood (2004) nettle acts on all constitution types. The energetic qualities are astringent, cooling and pungent. Nettle is supportive for pitta constitution by helping build and feed the thin and undernourished; it also helps to counteract protein-sensitivity for this constitution as well (Wood, 2004). Because nettle is cooling, it is good for a hot constitution like pitta. For kapha constitutions, nettle helps remove excess stagnation of water and mucus (Wood, 2004). Nettle may aggravate the vata constitution as it is astringent and vata constitutions are dry.

 

Safety: 

General Safety Considerations:  handle with care (gloves). When it is fresh and it is applied topically it may cause urticaria. Also, in theory, the internal use of nettle may be incompatible with anticoagulant drugs since it can interfere with the efficacy of the medication. (Hoffman, 2003).

 

Pregnancy Safety Considerations: Category B2= “no increase in the frequency of malformation or other harmful effects on the fetus”. (Mills & Bone, 2010)

 

Lactation Safety Consideration: Category C= Compatible with breastfeeding (Mills & Bone, 2010)

 

Personal Experience:

 

 

Research: 

 

ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. New York, NY: American Botanical Council. Accessed online at www.herbalgram.org.

 

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Healing Arts Press: Vermont.

 

Stinging nettles leaf (Urtica dioica L): Extraordinary vegetable medicine. (2013, February 21). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210803312000978

 

Upton, R. (2009). Stinging nettle herb. American herbal pharmacopeia and therapeutic compendium.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)