My Master Herbalist Thesis: Stinging Nettle, Urtica Dioica

stinging nettle urtica dioica



History of Stinging Nettle

Location of Stinging Nettle

Chemical Constituents of Stinging Nettle

Medicinal Qualities of Stinging Nettle

Contra-Indications of Stinging Nettle

Known Herbal Formulas of Stinging Nettle

Dosages and Applications of Stinging Nettle

Personal Experience







Upon scavenging the millions of herbs on the planet, the utmost important herb is the perennial Stinging Nettle. Contrary to it’s feisty reputation, the nutritive and healing attributes are beyond comparison. Some herbs might be able to accomplish a variety of stoutness, but Nettle can be turned to as a tonic for nearly every ailment. The first thought when hearing the words Stinging Nettle is to run the other way. If people in fact knew the depth to this ‘weed’s’ healing properties, they would actually be running to it and hoarding it wherever they possibly could. This is not a ‘new find’ or ‘the latest miracle pill’; in fact people throughout the world have been using Nettle extensively and finding comfort in it for thousands of years. Nettle’s unique properties has it set apart from the plant kingdom, making it a local superfood. Nettle has been a profound influence to people for millennia of time; specifically for a nutritive food, a hardy fiber, and medicinal herb. The origination of Nettle’s name has multiple translations, dating back partly to Latin origin. Uritca is from the Latin verb uro or urere, which means ‘to burn’, because of its urticate, or stinging hairs. Dioica means ‘two houses’, referring to the male and female flowers on separate plants. Similarly, in her book A Modern Herbal Mary Grieve relates the following statement of a Dr. Prior: “The common name of the nettle, or rather its Anglo-Saxon and also Dutch equivalent, Netel, is said to have been derived from Noedl (a needle), possibly from the sharp sting, or…in reference to the fact that it was this plant that supplied the thread used in former times by the Germanic and Scandinavian nations before the general introduction of flax, Net being the passive participle of ne, a verb common to most of the Indo-European languages in the sense of “spin” and “sew”…Nettle would seem…to have meant primarily that with which one sews.” One remarkable impact Nettle made was with the Gaelic Saint, Columbia, who favored Nettle broth during his sojourn on Iona. Four centuries later and half a world away, the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa acquired a greenish complexion from years of subsisting entirely on nettle soup while meditating in a cave. During an interview with Kevin Gianni and David Wolfe, the values of stinging nettles were discussed. David said, “Stinging nettles have been eaten by the druids in the U.K. for thousands of years and it is one of the most important foods to eat, if you know how to do it or if you juice it or you can just dry it and make a tea out of it, which is what I’m recommending.” Stinging nettle has been used throughout history as animal fodder, as vegetarian rennet in cheese making, and is still included in the Passover herbs. Nettles’ use has been traced back to the Bronze Age where it was greatly valued in Scotland and Ireland for its fibers that were made into a durable cloth. Burial shrouds have been found in Denmark made of nettle fabric also dating back to 3000 BC. They would also use the fiber to substitute cotton during World War I, making the uniforms up to 85% nettle fiber. During the Second World War school children were encouraged to collect nettles so that a dark green dye, used for camouflage, could be extracted from them. In Germany and Russia, country people for hundreds and hundreds of years have been treating rheumatism by ‘urtication’, that is, by rubbing or striking the affected part with a bundle of fresh nettles. This is done for one or two minutes daily and sometimes more often. This method of treatment has been a favorite folklore custom  to brush nettle stems over the skin, especially for the warmth to the limbs it would provide during freezing conditions of winter. In the second and third centuries B.C., Stinging Nettle was prescribed for hemlock and henbane poisoning and as a cure for snakebite and scorpion sting. The legions of Julius Caesar were said to have introduced Nettles to Britain, thinking they would need it to flog and rub their limbs to keep warm in the colder climate of the north. Similarly the Roman, Pliny, prescribed the juice of Stinging Nettle in the first century as an anti-allergen to alleviate the plant’s own sting. In ancient Greek times, nettle was used mainly as a diuretic and laxative. Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), the father of medicine, and his followers reported over 60 remedies that involve nettle.  Another Greek physician, Galen, talks a plethora about nettle in his book De Simplicibus as “a diuretic and laxative, for dog bites, gangrenous wounds, swellings, nose bleeding, excessive menstruation, spleen-related illness, pleurisy, pneumonia, asthma, tinea, and mouth sores.” As time transgressed into the Dark Ages, nettle was a saving grace for ailments such as constipation, respiratory complaints and skin issues, particularly shingles.

On the other side of the world, Native Americans were also using nettle as a staple not only in their diet but also medicinally and industrially. They would harvest the young plants use it to supplement their meals. Nettle was especially popular in the spring for a tonic to the entire system.

Back across the globe over in Great Britain, stinging nettle was the only stinging plant in the area so it has respectably found its way into several figures of speech in the English language. In Shakepspear’s Hotspur urges that “out of the nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety” (Henry IV, part 1, Act II Scene 3). Also, the figure of speech “to grasp the nettle” probably originated from Aesop’s fable “The boy and the Nettle.” In Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock one of the characters quotes Aesop “Gently touch a nettle and it’ll sting you for your pains/Grasp it as a lad of mettle and soft as silk remains”. The metaphor may refer to the fact that if a nettle plant is grasped firmly rather than brushed against, it does not sting so easily, because the hairs are crushed flat and do not penetrate the skin so readily. In the German language, the idiom “such in die Nesseln setzen”, or to sit in nettles, means to get into trouble. In Hungarian, the idiom ‘csalánba nem üt a mennyk?” (no lightning strikes the nettle) which means bad things never happen to bad people. The same idiom also exists in the Serbian language.

Looking at the influence nettle has made throughout the world, there have been some unique customs that incorporated themselves into traditions. In the UK, an annual Stinging Nettle Eating Championship draws thousands of people to Dorset, where the competitors attempt to eat as much of the raw plant as possible. Competitors are given 60 cm (20 in) stalks of the plant, from which they strip the leaves and eat them. Whoever strips and eats the most raw stinging nettle leaves in a fixed time is the winner. The competition dates back to the 80’s, when two neighboring farmers attempted to settle a dispute about which had the worst infestation of nettles. Accompanying that interesting competition, nettle pudding and beer is a countryside favorite in the British Isles. Oddly enough in some parts of Britain the leaves of nettle are even used for feeding pigs to fatten them up.

Throughout America and Europe, making Nettle into a tea was found early on to be helpful as a galactagogue, increasing milk production, not only for humans but also for cattle.  Similarly, it has been used freely as a gynecological aid by women of the North American aboriginal nations.  Making Nettle into a juice has been known to help pregnant women who are overdue to promote as an antispasmodic to relax the muscles.

The English poet, Campbell, summarizes it quite well when he says, “In Scotland, I have eaten nettles, I have slept in nettle sheets, and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth. The young and tender nettle is an excellent potherb. The stalks of the old nettle are as good as flax for making cloth. I have heard my mother say that she thought nettle cloth more durable than any other species of linen.” It is clear from the influence stinging nettle has had on people throughout the ages spanning across the continents, that it is not an herb to be forgotten. The impact nettle can have today to save lives is as important now as it has ever been.





Scientific classification of the stinging nettle is as follows: Kingdom: Plantae; Division: Magnoliophyta; Class: Magnoliopsida; Order: Urticales; Family: Urticaceae; Genus: Urtica; Species: dioica.

As to the extensiveness to the far reaches of Nettle’s impact, it can be found abundantly in northern Europe and much of Asia, usually throughout the countryside. Being a perennial herb,  depending on the weather and soil conditions it can grow anywhere from two to seven feet tall. It flourishes in wet soil, so it is less widespread in southern Europe and north Africa. It thrives in nitrogen-rich soils of moist woodlands, streams, waste places and pastures and is one of the first forest floor plants to appear in the spring. In North American however, it is widely distributed in Canada and the United States, albeit Hawaii. It grows in abundance in the Pacific Northwest, especially in places where annual rainfall is high. Overall, Nettle thrives in temperate regions of the world, from sea level to 10,000 feet above sea level. Stinging nettle is a common understory component of riparian communities and also occurs in and adjacent to marshes and meadows and in disturbed areas. Stinging nettles are widespread, growing mostly in moist woods often under alders where the soil is soft and black. Colonies can sometimes cover up to acres in size.

The infamous “sting” that comes from stinging nettle is due to the little hairs that cover the entire plant. The hairs are actually hollow, simply connected at the base. This is where the acrid fluid, consisting primarily of histamine, formic acid (the same acid ants use to bite), serotonin and acetylcholine, is stored. When the hairs are irritated, thwarted, or even moved, the venom is released instantaneously, causing an irritation so severe with an accompanied inflammation typically lasting a number of hours.

By the look of it, nettle leaves are fairly similar to those of the mint family. What sets it apart is the square stem with more than enough tiny hairs which are more pronounced on the corners. The leaves are a rich, vibrant color, with not so vibrant veins. The veins, like many plants, are grown in a lance-shaped direction that taper to a point. The flowers of nettle are incomplete and lonely lovers; the female and males are separated to different plants. The way nettle spreads is through the rhizomes, which are underground roots, that shoot out of the sides. The female flowers are more frivolous and clustered, each with one style and brush-like stigma. They also each have a superior-positioned ovary with a one-seeded carpel. When the female unfolds, stamen are allowed to spring out of the anthers and scatter their pollen to the wind. The men on the other hand are more few and far between, barren, with only stamens to offer. They each have a stamen curled inside of them, as well as four sepals. The flowers are a wonderful and unobtrusive pale green, with clusters that droop from the leaf pairs, blooming from summer well into autumn. Often times the flowers are so thickly dense they droop to nearly cover up the stem.






There are many important breakdowns to a plant so powerful, each building block contributing to create a masterpiece. Numerous analyses of urtica dioica have revealed the presence of more than fifty different chemical constituents. Some of the phytochemicals naturally occurring in Urtica Dioica are acetic acid, acetyl-choline, serotonin, formic acid, lectin, beta-carotene, betaine, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, lycopene, scopoletin and lecithin. Each of these unique active constituents play a large role in the renowned medicinal properties of Stinging Nettle.

To single out the significance of each element, acetic acid is the first to makes its way. Being the chief acid of vinegar where it would usually be noted, has been known to treat infections of the ear canal, vaginitis, head lice, thrush, plantar warts, nail fungus, impetigo and ear wax impaction. Results of a research study in Japan suggest that acetic acid may help control blood pressure and fat accumulation. Investigators in Europe looked at the influence of acetic acid on blood glucose and other biological responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects. In the United States, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute are researching the use of acetic acid to remove calcium from the plaque that clogs arteries and causes heart disease.

Another phytochemical that makes its name in the world is beta carotene, being one of the more important flavonoid compounds. Beta carotene has many powerful antioxidant functions, and when converted into vitamin A in the intestines it has all the functions of vitamin A such as visual cycle, reproduction (sperm production), maintenance of epithelial functions, growth and development. Research studies have shown that the dietary intake of foods high in beta carotene have a positive effect with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease as well as oral cavity, and lung cancers. There is also betaine, or known as trimethyglycine (TMG), is a substance that is made in the body where it is involved in the functioning of the liver, helping to make carnatine, metabolize homocysteine (an amino acid), and cellular reproduction. It has been shown to help in a number of ailments such as heart disease, homocystinuria, liver disease, and dry mouth. Caffeic acid, in the phytochemical class of hydroxycinnamic acid. In the studies of cancer chemoprevention with caffein acid, it reduced the appearance of tumors by 43% according to “Cancer Prevention Mediated by Caffeic Acid Phyenthyl Ester Involves Cyp2b1/2 Modulation in Hepatocarcinogenesis” . Some other significant properties of caffeic acid in the Stinging Nettle are antioxidant, neurodegenerative, immunoregulatory, anti-glycation, anti-inflammatory, male fertility, anti-HIV activity and anti-hypertensive effects.

Some more constituents include one, ferulic acid.Studies found that the protective role of ferulic acid on human skin is a protectant from the harmful effects of UV irradiation. It also has effects on improving the auditory function for those with noise-induced hearing loss. It acts as a mediator against noise induced ototoxicity, according to “In vivo protective effect of ferulic acid against noise-induced hearing loss in the guinea-pig”. Some more noteworthy benefits of ferulic acid are the antioxidant, anti-depressant, neuroprotective and anti-aging effects. It has also been shown to benefit chronic kidney disease, neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and cytotoxins. A more unheard of constituent that occurs in Nettle is the anti-inflammatory, scopoletin. Not only that it can also regulate blood pressure; meaning that if it is too high it will lower it, and if it is too low it will up it. Scopoletin regulates the hormone serotonin, which is interesting because serotonin can also be found naturally occurring in stinging nettle. Scopoletin has bacteriostatic activity against various species of bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus aureus, Streptococcus sp., Klebsiella pneumonia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Now on to lecithin, which is also found in urtica dioica, is largely composed of the B vitamin choline and also contain linoleum acid and inositol. Lecithin acts as a solvent for cholesterol, tryglycerides and other fats. Therefore, it helps to prevent such ailments as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, heartening of the arteries, etc. Lecithin plays a vital role in the absorption of nutrients out of the blood stream into the cells. Without adequate lecithin, our cell membranes harden and malabsorption is the end result. It also heps reduce or prevent cirrhosis of the liver, because it helps to soften the harden liver tissue. Lecithin is part of the myelin sheath that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers. Without this sheath, the nerves function less efficiently. Because of this action as a nerve insulator, people suffering from multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, stress, PMS, and depression have benefited immensely. It also strengthens neurotransmitters, which allows better communication in the nervous system. Furthermore, children and adults with hyperactivity have significantly benefited from the use of lecithin. It aids our immune system by coating our red blood cells thereby providing protection against the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain, and plays a role in the neurotransmitters that govern short-term memory. Lecithin has been found beneficial in the reduction or prevention of senility and Alzheimer’s disease. Being an essential fatty acid it is important for the lining of the lungs due to its ability to soothe mucous membranes and prevent irritation. Therefore, it has been found helpful for allergies, hay fever, asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Overall it is a good lubricant throughout the body, specifically benefiting joints, and aids maintenance or healing of pancreatic and kidney tissue as well as the bowel lining. Lecithin is a beauty nutrient, because it is essential for healthy, shiny hair and moist, soft skin. Last but not least, lecithin is necessary for the production of various hormones such as epinephrine, which regulates perspiration and prostaglandins.

Numerous analyses of nettle have revealed the presence of more than fifty different chemical constituents.  The roots of stinging nettle have been studied extensively and found to contain starch, gum, albumen, sugar, and two resins.  Histamine, acetylcholine, choline, and serotonin are also present.  In addition, oleanol acid, sterols and steryl glycosides (including 3-beta-sitosterin), scopoletin (a coumarin), secoisolariciresinol, and neo-olivil (both lignans), and homovanillyl alcohol have been found.  An immunologically active polysaccharide fraction was isolated which yielded neutral sugar, protein, and uronic acid.  Methalonic extract of the roots were investigated for their inhibitory effect in aromatase, a key enzyme in steroid hormone metabolism.  Many active constituents such as phytosterols, pentacyclin triterpenes, coumarins, ceramides, and hydroxyl fatty acids have been isolated from the lipophilic fraction, the compounds having an affiliation for lipids.  Six isolectins, collectively referred to as U.  dioica agglutinin (UDA), and some polysaccharides were isolated from the hydrophilic fraction (compounds that dissolve or mix with water), and are considered to be very important pharmacological findings. A well researched summation of Nettle’s properties states:

Stinging nettle is a powerhouse of nutrients.  It contains on average 22% protein, 4% fats, 37% non-nitrogen extracts, 9-21% fiber, and 19-29% ash.  The leaves contain about 4.8 mg chlorophyll per gram of dry leaves, depending on whether the plant was grown in the sun or shade.  Surprisingly, more chlorophyll and carotenoids are found in plants that have been grown in the shade. The dried leaf of nettle contains 40% protein. They are one of the highest known sources of protein in a leafy green, and of superior quality than many other green leafy vegetables, The fresh leaves contain vitamins A, C, D, E, F, K, P, and b-complexes as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B-6, all of which were found in high levels, and act as antioxidants.    The leaves are also noted for their particularly high content of the metals selenium, zinc, iron, and magnesium.  They contain boron, sodium, iodine, chromium, copper, and sulfur.  They also contain tannic and gallic acids, gum, and wax. Sixteen free amino acids have been found in the leaves, as well as high silicon levels in the leaves, stems and roots.  Amino acids in dehydrated nettle meal are nutritionally superior to those of alfalfa meal.

With more constituents worth mentioning, specifically in the fresh leaves, they have smaller amounts of plant sterols, but proportionally higher levels of flavonol glycosides such as quercitin, and carbonic and formic acid.  More carotenoids that have been found besides beta-carotene is violaxanthin, xanthophylls, zeaxanthin, luteoxanthin, and lutein epoxide.  In a study done by Kavalali and Akcasu in 1983, an anti-coagulant was isolated from nettle leaves.  Terpene diols, terpene diol glucosides, and alpha-tocopherol were also detected.  Five new monoterpenoid components were found, as well as 18 phenolic compounds and eight lignans, some of which were previously unknown.  In relatively recent studies done by Weglarz and Roslon in 2000 and 2001, the content of polyphenolic acids both in the leaves and rhizomes was found to be higher in the male form of the plant than the female form, but the chemical composition of the female polyphenolic acids were much more complex. An acetylcholine synthesizing enzyme, choline acetyl-transferase, was found, and it appears that Urtica dioica is the only plant to have this enzyme.

Taking each section of nettle apart, first the flowers, have been found to be rich in alpha-tocopherol, zinc, calcium, iron, riboflavin and potassium. It is hard to keep all of the nutrients in tact by drying and storing though, for example, vitamin C and beta-carotene nearly disappear. The hairs, like mentioned above contain an acrid fluid of silica, 5-hydroxy tryptaine, acetylcholine, histamine, formic acid and serotonin. The seeds have been found to rich in minerals such as copper, zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorous, manganese, potassium, sodium, selenium and magnesium. Also found were vitamins C, E, B6, thiamin, riboflavin, linolenic and linoleic acid. In the herb itself one reason it helps balance hormones is through its wealth of lipids that include fatty acids, tocopherols, sterols and tryglycerides.






Nettle is an herb so diverse that every single person can benefit from it if not one way, then the other. It helps by cleansing and nourishing every system in the body as well as strengthening and stimulating the four elimination channels. Men, women, young or old can turn to it for nearly any ailment. To name a few medicinal virtues of the hailed nettle, it is an astringent (shrinks or contracts body tissues), hepatic (of or pertaining to liver), anti-spasmodic (suppresses muscle spasms), anti-histamine (inhibits histamine response), stimulant (induce temporary in either mental or physical functions or both), hypoglycemic (lowers blood sugar), febrifuge (reduces fever), depurative (purify or purgative), nephritic(relating to the kidneys), expectorant (promotes expulsion of phlegm), decongestant (relieves congestion), anti-allergenic (prevent or relieves allergies), galactagogue (promotes lactation), hemostatic (arrests bleeding or hemorrhage), nutritive (provides nourishment), diuretic (promotes production of urine), anodyne (pain killer), rubefacient (produces redness on skin), tonic (restores or increases body tone), pectoral (pertaining to breast), alterative (gradually improves system), adaptogenic (decrease cellular sensitivity to stress), anti-rheumatic (relieving or preventing rheumatism), anthelminic (expels parasitic worms), styptic (contracts or binds to check bleeding), and anti-lithic (preventing or destroys urinary calculi).

Delving deeper, nettle helps to fix the fiend, cancer, through its high amount of antioxidants and vitamin activities such as the high potassium to sodium ratio. Through studies, it has been indicated to serve as an excellent natural source for protection such as cancer, tumors, cardiovascular disorders, and immune deficiency. One specific study proved the powerful antioxidant activity in its response to scavenging free radicals, as well as metal chelating activities. “The 50, 100 and 250 ?g amounts showed 39, 66 and 98% inhibition on peroxidation of linoleic acid emulsion, respectively, while 60 ?g/ml of ?-tocopherol, exhibited only 30% inhibition…[nettle] also showed antimicrobial activity against nine microorganisms, antiulcer activity against ethanol-induced ulcerogenesis and analgesic effect on acetic acid-induced stretching”.

Another benefit nettle offers is the restorative properties contributing to the pancreas, blood sugar and diabetes. One study concluded that “results obtained in this study suggests that U. dioica has hypoglycemic and hypo-lipidemic activity in type 2 diabetic model rats. This may be due to the histological and functional improvement of b-cells with the consequence of improved insulinemic status.”

One impeccable thing nettle restores is the purity of the blood and liver. By doing this, many conditions are improved; such as eczema, acne and other skin disorders. What is wonderful about nettle it that it can be applied externally as well as internally. Stinging nettle is one of the very best blood purifiers available.

Urtica dioica, dear sweet nettle, contains properties that help to reduce nasal inflammation and ease allergy symptoms, particularly hay fever. Nettle contains antihistamines which act against the body’s natural response to produce nasal congestion and watery eye in response to pollen and other allergens.

Other anti inflammatory benefits nettle works with is easing inflammation and swelling in cases of prostatitis, also known as prostate inflammation. Nettle works by easing these symptoms as well as slowing the progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Nettle is a good ‘go to’ for inflammation throughout the body. Gout is another painful inflammatory condition, where uric acid builds up and crystallized around the joints, just in time for nettle can come to the rescue once more. By simply brewing a cup of nettle tea, the inflamed joints can be relieved significantly. Inflammation of the bladder or urethra, often caused by urinary tract infections, can be eased by nettle, which as a diuretic will also promote urination to help flush out the infection causing bacteria. Nettle leaf extract contains active compounds that reduce TNF-a and other inflammatory cytokines. Nettle leaf potently inhibits the genetic transcription factor that activates TNF-a and IL-1B in the synovial tissue that lines the joint. In a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, partial crossover, comparative trial of Urtica dioica, 81% of the 287 patients reported improved urinary tract symptoms secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia. No appreciable change was seen in the placebo group.

For men, nettle is a most important lifestyle addition. Not only benefiting prostate, but also in helping the production of free and usable testosterone. Because it contains 3, 4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran, nettle is often used by bodybuilders for this very purpose, by occupying the sex-hormone binding globulin. On top of all that, nettle not only boosts free testosterone, but it can convert that testosterone into a much stronger male androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Without adequate DHT men haven body hair at all, and more importantly, without adequate DHT the male sexual organs fail to fully mature and is compounded by low sex drive and impaired sexual function. DHT is shown to be up to ten times stronger than testosterone, and does not convert into estrogen; it actually blocks the aromatase enzyme which converts testosterone into estrogens. Thus, making it a potent aromatase inhibitor as well as being stronger than testosterone.

Acting as a nutritive, many ailments are dissipated away by incorporating nettle regularly. The hepatic properties (high iron content) significantly reduces anemia, as well as the chlorophyll in nettle that will strengthen the blood to hold on to the iron, accompanied by vitamin C to aid in absorbing the iron. As many women suffer from anemia, they are often accompanied by other relating issues such as loss of blood through heavy periods. Nettle is a good supplement for this because of the high vitamin K content, which will keep excessive bleeding at bay. During pregnancy the fetus is strengthened by nettle, through labor the pain is appeased quite a bit, and at post partum, not only is the mother nourished significantly, but milk quantity as well as quality for the baby is improved.

Everyone has had a low energy day, which could be caused by a number of things. The question is, how to truly figure out the underlying cause? By simply crowding out the bad with too much good, this is where nettle comes in. As mentioned above, lack of iron could be one issue. Or, endocrine disorders could be another target to address. Nettle is beyond valuable for taking a load off of the adrenals and strengthening them, while still giving the energy needed to get through stressful times. In this day and age, adrenal fatigue is to the point of becoming an epidemic and needs to be taken more seriously. Another glandular, the thyroid, can also benefit from stinging nettle as it is high in food for the thyroid, iodine. Tincture of the seed has specifically been found to raise thyroid function and reduce goiter. It is not necessary to live by an ocean to get local iodine. Through a process that the late Dr. Christopher teaches, called biological transmutation, nettle naturally contains iodine. More benefits to treating hypothyroid are better circulation, specifically to the extremities as well as a boost in metabolism, promoting weight loss. Getting the endocrine hormonal balance in check, thanks to nettle, makes life a lot more worth living and in control.

Closely related to the endocrine system, the central nervous system also benefits significantly from stinging nettle. Some neurotransmitters that are quite rare to find so readily available in plants, are present in nettle. Acetylcholine, serotonin, choline and 5-hydroxy tryptamine can be fount in the hairs and leaves. Serotonin specifically is of high value in that it helps relieve stress, fear, nervousness, depression, insomnia, eating disorders; and converting into melatonin, acts as an antioxidant often referred to as the anti-aging hormone, that can give relief to seasonal effect disorder, sleeplessness, chronic fatigue and again, depression.

One underlying cause for what seems to be too many symptoms and diseases is the abominable heavy metal toxicity. Using nettle can help chelate the metals safely out of the body. Studies have been done to prove the high rank nettle deserves to be recognized as one of the best herbs to actively get rid of this silent killer. New studies have determined that not only does the fungus Candida Albicans run rampant with a sluggish, sugar fed system, but it is also present with the increase of heavy metals in the body. Luckily enough, nettle can fight both, being an anti-fungal as well as chelator to heavy metals.

Other significant benefits nettle helps with are headaches, arthritis, respiratory, sinusitis, rhinitis, colds, kidney stones, internal bleeding, nosebleeds, protects against enlarged spleen, stomach acid, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, hives, digestion, scrofula, neuralgia, expelling worms, dysentery, piles, hemorrhages, phlegm, restoring natural hair color, dandruff, gout, tuberculosis, constipation, high blood pressure, chlorosis, rickets, scrofula, neuralgia, corns, nail fungus, and ulcers.






In Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss mentions that a straight poultice of nettle can raise blisters if left on the skin too long.

If the fresh herb is taken in over the top large doses, nettle’s stinging properties can potentially create uterine excitation, and rarely, uterine contractions.

Very rare but potential side effects include lethargy from too many nettle seeds, edema, stomach upset, and even more rare, abnormally small production of urine.

Although people do this on purpose for the irritating pain relief, many find the fresh leaves of stinging nettle to cause a painful rash.

It is best if young leaves be consumed over the older leaves, to avoid developing cystoliths which are small gritty particles that can irritate the kidneys.






First Aid:

According to Jethro Kloss in Back to Eden, taking boiled leaves and applying them externally will stop bleeding almost immediately.


Dr. Vogel recommends a tasty way to incorporate nettle into the diet that includes using chopped young leaves as a garnish on salads and soups, mixing the juice with potatoes and other vegetables, and cooking young nettles in oil with a little onion.

In curdling milk, simply boil the leaves in salted water for 8-12 minutes and then use the tea with the milk when making cheese. The milk will curdle in varying amounts deepening on the type of milk and the strength of the tea.


For a conditioning, stimulating and nourishing hair rinse, make an infusion of nettle tea and mix 1:1 ratio with apple cider vinegar. Use as a final rinse after shampooing.

To spritz on as a leave in nourishment, make a vinegar tincture of nettle and after shaking daily and keeping in a cool, dark place for a number of days, strain it into a spray bottle and use on hair after showering (do not wash out). It might smell strong at first, but once it dries it will not smell; although adding in some rosemary essential oil will help and also help hair growth.


1 part nettle

1 part white willow

1 part turmeric

1 part ginger

1 part lobelia

Mix herbs into an apple cider vinegar base for a tincture. The more it is shaken and longer it sits, the stronger it will be.


2 parts nettle

1 part red clover

1 part sarsaparilla

1 part burdock

1 part barberry

1 part dandelion

Simmer herbs into a decoction and drink every morning on an empty stomach. Do not use longer than six weeks without taking a break.


1 part red raspberry leaf

1 part nettle

1 part kelp

2 parts sarsaparilla

1 part carrot leaf

1 part licorice

1 part gotu kola

1 part mullein

1/2 part lobelia


1 part fennel

2 parts nettle

1 part fenugreek

1 part blessed thistle

1 part marshmallow

1 part red raspberry leaf


2 parts st. johns wort

2 parts nettle

1 part black cohosh

1 part blue vervain

1 part lobelia

1 part damiana

1 part brigham tea







1 teaspoon of herb per cup of water. If more herb can be tolerated, increase to 1 tablespoon. Pour one cup of boiling water, preferably distilled, over plant and cover. Let steep until temperature of desire is reached, typically 10-25 minutes. Drink one cup 3 times daily. *Sometimes it is best made in quart batches and can be left in fridge for 2 days, 3 days at maximum.


Let herb ratio to water simmer at low heat until water has evaporated to desired amount.  Half of original simmered down is fairly average.  Less is needed here compared to an infusion, so a couple ounces a day is all that is needed.

Juiced Herb:

Can take it straight, but is very potent; may dilute with water. This can also be used externally for hemorrhoids, wounds, nosebleeds and burns.


(alcohol extract) put 20-30 drops in water and take 3 or more times daily.

(vinegar extract) put 20-40 drops in water and take 3 or more times daily.


Take 2 capsules, 00 size or 6-800 mg, 3 times daily of the herb. If taking just the root, less is needed.


Crush fresh young herb, and add slippery elm to preferred consistency, then cover. Can also mix with a carrier oil such as coconut, almond or olive; this will help prevent blistering if using for extended amounts of time.


For acne, apply after cleansing the face every morning and night. Occasionally take breaks at night to let skin continue to make its own oils.

For cuts and wounds, hemorrhoids, insect bites or stings, apply generously.

“A tincture of the seeds can be used to raise thyroid function and reduce goiter, for skin problems, and in heavy uterine bleeding.  The regular seeds, in doses of 14 or 16, and repeated three times daily, are highly recommended as a remedy for goiter.”

For allergies, a freeze-dried form can be taken in addition to or in place of the dried herb. Some find this to work better for allergies.






I have always referred to Nettle as my multivitamin, knowing it has more than enough nutrients it it that are readily usable, compared to many inorganic  and nonassimable forms found on the shelves.

I did start taking it daily during the winter when I heard David Christopher mention that it can help circulation to the extremities. Back then, I did not know why it helped circulation, but I was confident David knew what he was talking about so I gave it a try. I took it every morning for about a month and one day after that I suddenly realized that my toes had not been freezing in a number of days! It was a subtle enough change that I almost didn’t notice, but once I realized how well it was working, I was amazed just how well it helped in barely over a month.

Every allergy season that rolls around an old coworker of mine would not let anyone forget how amazing nettle is, how it is the best thing she has ever tried that really made a noticeable difference for her intolerable allergies. She likes the freeze-dried form. She also likes how good she feels all around when she takes it.

Before writing this paper I would often refer people to nettle for prostate, hair, and a multivitamin replacement. That was about all I knew about it, with a hunch deep down to its depth of benefits. Now that I have more knowledge about stinging nettle, I feel like I can confidently refer any person to it for nearly any ailment and it would truly help them in more ways than one.






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4 thoughts on “My Master Herbalist Thesis: Stinging Nettle, Urtica Dioica

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