Nettle tea has been said to have many benefits. We'll have a look a bit more at the plant here and also see what the evidence is for its health benefits.
What is the nettle?
The nettle is commonly known as the stinging nettle, or the common nettle. Its official name is Urtica Dioica. It is a flowering plant that is native to Asia, Europe, Canada, the United States, and Northern Africa.
There are various subspecies of the plant, and nearly all of them have stinging hairs on the stems and leaves, which cause a stinging sensation if they come into contact with the skin of humans and animals.
How do I make nettle tea?
You should be able to buy dried leaves of nettle in order to make the tea in most good health stores. It may come from the leaves and / or extract from the roots.
Place 1 or 2 teaspoons of the nettle into hot water and then steep for around 5 minutes.
Is nettle tea safe?
There is no evidence that any serious harm has been caused from nettle tea. Side-effects that have been reported are mild stomach upset. You should avoid if you are pregnant or taking other medications and of course consult with your doctor.
Now we'll take a look at some of the health benefits that have been reported.
Nettles and Inflammation
It is possible that nettle tea is helpful for inflammation. Riehemanna et al (1999) studied the plant as they were interested in its inflammatory effects in specific reference to Rheumatoid arthritis. Cytokines are proteins, peptides, or glycoproteins found in the body and they can be responsible for inflammation.
Although it was unclear as to whether flavonoids or unrelated substances in Urtica extracts were responsible, they found that nettle extract had an inhibitory effects on inflammation and may thus be a useful herbal remedy for Rheumatoid arthritis.
Prostate and Urinary Tract Disorders
A study was undertaken in 2005 (Safarinejad, 2005) in order to find out if therapy using the nettle plant would provide relief for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is enlargement of the prostrate. The researchers undertook a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-month study of Urtica dioica (nettle) in 620 patients. In total 558 patients (or 90%) completed the study (287 in the Urtica dioica group and 271 in the placebo group).
The results at the end of the 6-month trial were that 81% of the patients who consumed the nettle plant reported improved LUTS compared with 16% of those in the placebo group. There was a slight decrease in prostate size for those who took the nettle but no change in the prostate for those consuming the placebo. There were no side effects seen in the subjects.
The researchers concluded that nettle has beneficial effects for treating symptomatic BPH, or an enlarged prostrate. However, they state that further clinical trials need to be conducted before confirming conclusively that nettle is effective.
Riehemann, K., Behnke, B., & Schulze-Osthoff, K. (1999). Plant extracts from stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), an antirheumatic remedy, inhibit the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB. FEBS letters, 442(1), 89-94.
Safarinejad, M. R. (2005). Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy, 5(4), 1-11.