Nettle: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Nettle Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

The large nettle is native to Europe and Asia, the small one to the entire northern hemisphere. Both species have been naturalized as weeds in many countries around the world. The drug material comes from wild deposits in Bulgaria and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Nettle in herbal medicine

All parts of the nettle are used in herbal medicine. The whole or cut, dried leaves (Urticae folium) and the whole or cut, dried aerial parts of the plant (Urticae herba) are used most frequently.

The roots of the plant (Urticae radix) are mainly used for problems with urination. The fruits or “seeds” of the nettle (Urticae fructus) are only used in folk medicine.


Characteristics of the nettle

Stinging nettle is a perennial herb, up to 1.5 m tall, that bears characteristic, ovate acuminate, grey-green leaves with a clearly serrate margin. The leaves have stinging and bristly hairs that cause a burning sensation when touched on the skin. This is also the basis of the genus name Urtica, which is derived from the Latin “urere” (in English: “to burn”).

The stinging nettle (Urtica urens L.), which only grows to a height of around 50 cm, is also often used in herbal medicine. In contrast to the small nettle, the inflorescences of the large nettle are longer than the petioles. The elongated panicles of flowers are yellowish in the male plants and whitish to light purple in the female specimens.

Characteristics of nettle leaves

Stinging nettle consists of strongly shriveled, black-green leaves on the upper side and light green underneath with occasional stinging hairs, as well as green-brown, heavily furrowed stem pieces. Occasionally, parts of the green flower spikes also occur. In the case of nettle leaves and weed, the proportion of inflorescences may not exceed 2%, and the proportion of stem parts may not exceed 5%.

The drug material of the stinging nettle root consists of irregularly curved, grey-brown root pieces about 5 mm thick with clear longitudinal furrows. The root is hollow in cross section, the cut surface is white.


smell and taste of the plant

Nettle leaves give off a very faint odor, the root is odorless. The smell of the nettle fruits is reminiscent of carrots .

Neither nettle leaves nor nettle herb, the fruit or the root have a particularly characteristic taste .

Nettle – application

Nettle herb and leaves have anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects. Internally and externally, the drug is used to support rheumatic complaints and, according to recent clinical studies, also for arthrosis. Used internally, nettle is used to treat inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract, such as inflammation of the bladder, irritable bladder and inflammation of the mucous membranes (catarrh).

Nettle herb is also used for flushing therapies to prevent and treat so-called kidney gravel, i.e. accumulations of small kidney stones.

Apply nettle root

Nettle root is used for urinary problems (urinary problems) that are due to a benign enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH).

However, nettle root only improves the symptoms associated with stage I and II enlarged prostates, but does not stop the growth of the prostate itself.

Therefore, despite treatment with nettle root, the prostate should be examined regularly by a doctor. Traditionally, nettle root is said to support the excretory function of the kidneys in general.


Folk medicinal use of stinging nettle

Nettle was already mentioned in ancient times as a diuretic and anti-bloating agent. Today, the herb and the leaves of the plant are used in folk medicine not only as a diuretic, but also to treat joint and muscular rheumatism, arthritis and bile duct diseases, to promote wound healing and care for the scalp and hair, for blood formation and to stimulate the Pancreas.

The root is used in folk medicine as a diuretic and occasionally as a gargle for a sore throat .

Nettle fruits are used exclusively in folk medicine. The fruits are crushed and applied externally for various skin diseases and rheumatism. For internal use, the oil obtained from the fruit is used as a strengthening agent (tonic) and, according to some herbal books, as a local hemostatic agent (hemotyptic) and as a remedy for diarrhea and bile problems.

Use in homeopathy

In homeopathy, the fresh, flowering plant is used to treat hives and renal colic. Medium potencies are used for allergies , itchy skin and rashes with wheals and burning.


Nettle and its ingredients

Nettle herb and leaves contain about 1-2% flavonoids, unsaturated fatty acids, caffeoylquinic acids such as the rare caffeoylmalic acid and calcium and potassium salts. Biogenic amines such as serotonin , histamine and acetylcholine are found in the stinging hairs of the leaves.

The drug may only contain stems with a maximum diameter of 3 mm (or a maximum proportion of stems of 5%), otherwise the proportion of the active ingredients is too low. The potassium salts, for example, are only found in the leaves.

The most important components of the root that determine its effectiveness include sterols and 3-β-sitosterol in free and glycosidically bound form, coumarin, lignans and polysaccharides.

Stinging nettle – for which indication?

Nettle herb/leaves can help with the following diseases:

  • rheumatic complaints
  • arthrosis
  • inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract
  • cystitis
  • Repeatedly
  • kidney semolina

Nettle root can be helpful for the following diseases:

  • Discomfort when urinating
  • Urination problems in benign prostate enlargement (stages I and II)

Nettle – dosage

Nettle herb and leaves are primarily taken in the form of tea . The drug is available as a filter bag, but also as a component of numerous tea blends (bladder and kidney teas). In addition, the herb and the leaves can also be taken as mono or combination preparations in the form of drops, candies, dragees and capsules.

The root is taken less as a tea and more in the form of film-coated tablets and other forms of preparation containing the dry extract. Some combination preparations from the urological group also contain nettle root.

Nettle dosage

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 8-12 g nettle herb/leaves or 4-6 g nettle root.


Prepare nettle

To prepare a tea from nettle herb, 1.5 g of the finely chopped herb (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 0.7 g) are either poured over 250 ml of boiling water or cold water is added and boiled briefly. After 10 minutes everything is passed through a tea strainer.

For use as a diuretic, one cup of the tea can be drunk several times a day. For a nettle root tea, 1.5 g of the coarsely powdered root (1 teaspoon corresponds to 1.3 g) is mixed with cold water, boiled for about 1 minute and strained after 10 minutes.

Contraindications for nettle

In the case of existing water retention in the tissue ( edema ) as a result of restricted heart or kidney activity, no flushing therapy with stinging nettle leaves should be carried out. There are currently no contraindications for nettle root.


4 special notes

  • Adequate fluid intake (at least 2 liters/day) must be ensured when carrying out a flushing therapy.
  • If the prostate is enlarged, a doctor must be consulted regularly to check the growth.
  • If you find blood in your urine, if you have a fever and symptoms that persist for more than 7 days, you should also see a doctor.
  • The drug should be stored dry and protected from light.

Nettle synonyms


German plant name: nettle

German synonyms of the plant: Nettle, hairy nettle, hemp nettle, sharp nettle, millinettle

Latin plant name: Urtica dioica L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Urtica major, Urtica urens maxima, Urtica dioica ssp. dioecious

German drug name: nettle 

leaves nettle herb 

nettle root

German synonyms of the drug: Nettle herb, hair nettle herb, hemp nettle herb (herb/leaves)nettle root, hair nettle root, hemp nettle root (root)

Latin drug name: Nettle leaf 

Nettle herb 

Nettle root

Latin synonyms of the drug: Nettle Herb (Kraut) 

Nettle Root, Nettle Rhizome (Wurzel)

English name: Nettle herb, Nettle leaf (Kraut, Blätter); Stinging nettle, Common nettle, European Nettle, California nettle, Great nettle, Great Stinging nettle, Slender Nettle, Nettle (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Urticaceae

Plant family German: nettle family


Nettle – effect

The diuretic effect of the leaves is mainly due to the relatively high content of minerals such as potassium. A large part of these remain in the urine and draw water with them (osmotic effect). This leads to increased urination, but only if there is sufficient fluid intake.

Nettle and its effects

The anti-inflammatory (antiphlogistic) effect of the leaves/herb is mainly due to the caffeoylmalic acid and the unsaturated fatty acids, which inhibit the activity of various inflammatory cells and inflammatory mediators.

When touched, the stinging hairs inject histamine and acetylcholine into the skin, which leads to the formation of wheals.

In the roots, the sterols are primarily responsible for the effect. These interact with various receptors and enzymes in the prostate, resulting in an immediate improvement in symptoms and an increase in urine volume. The root is also said to have anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects.


Nettle side effects

In very rare cases, mild gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, heartburn , diarrhea , bloating and flatulence have been observed when taking nettle preparations.

After drinking nettle tea from the leaves, the herb or the roots, allergic reactions such as skin irritation, itching, skin rashes and stomach irritation can occur in individual cases.

Nettle root is well suited for long-term use, since harmful side effects are not known even with long-term use.

Nettle: Interactions

There are currently no known interactions of nettle preparations with other agents.



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