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Herbal Monograph 

Herb:   NETTLES (Urtica urens; Uricaceae)

Other Names:stingingnettle; Roman nettle (U. Pilulifera)

Energetics:   bland, slightly bitter, cool  (6) Cool, dry; astringent, slightly bitter taste (6)                      

Meridians/Organs affected:   small intestines, bladder, lungs    (6)   

Part used: leaves  (6)         

Harvesting: harvest while  flowering   (15)

Active constituents:    The stinging element is formic acid, which is dissipated by cooking or drying. It also contains silicon, potassium, tannin, glucoquinines, chlorophyll and vitamins A and C.     (6)

Histamine, formic acid, acetylcholine, serotonin, glucoquinones, many minerals (inc. silica), vitamins A,B,C; tannins   (15)

Actions:   astringent, hemostatic, diuretic, galactagogue, expectorant, tonic, nutritive (6)     

      stops bleeding, circulatory stimulant, promotes milk flow, lowers blood sugar levels, prevents scurvy    (15)

Conditions and Uses:   The young nettle leaves may be steamed as a potherb. The tea is taken cool as a diuretic for such urinary problems as strangury (stopped urine), gravel, and inflammatory conditions, including nephritis and cystitis. The warm tea is used for asthma, mucous conditions of the lungs, diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids, various hemorrhages, scorbutic affections and summer dysentery (especially for children). It is very helpful in treating mucus in the colon in adults.

The German herbalist, Maria Treben, recommends daily use of nettle tea, taking a cup two or three times a day as a tonic. It is effective against low energy and fatigue, probably because it counteracts flaccidity, removes dampness and brightens the chi. It is said to be effective against eczematous affections of the upper quadrant of the body including the face, neck and ears.   (6)     

Nettles takes minerals, including iron, from the soil and aerial parts are a good tonic for anemia; the high vitamin C content in the plant helps ensure that the iron is properly absorbed by the body. They clear uric acid from the system to relieve gout and arthritis, and their astringency stops bleeding. Nettles “sting” because of  histamine and formic acid in the hairs that trigger the familiar allergic response….    

Re: treating eczema–useful if eczema is associated with poor circulation. Take an infusion or tincture, or use externally in cream or ointment. 

Re: treating anemia-rich in iron and other minerals and nutrients; highly nutritious. Take 10 ml juice three times a day, or take an infusion of fresh herb.(15)

Leaves: Nettle leaves have long been known as an excellent diuretic and are used to stop the urine retention that often accompanies prostate inflammation. 

Roots: The roots of the nettle are what have drawn the attention of scientists. After conducting a stdy of this rootat the Department of Phytotherapy in Paris, researchers declared that the nettle root appears to be a useful therapy for milder cases of prostate inflammation and a good alternative to surgery. Men with mild prostate enlargement who took nettle root found that their symptoms disappeared after only three weeks.  (29)

Combinations: Re: treating eczema-Use as simple or add other cleansing herbs like heartsease, red clover, figwort, or cleavers to the infusion or tincture. (15)

              Re: treating anemia–Use as a simple, but add iron-rich foods like parsley, watercress, and apricots to the diet    (15)


Tincturing Process:

Applications: For arthritic and rheumatic problems nettles are used both internally and externally. Externally, fresh nettles brushed over painful areas are an effective rubefacient to reduce local pains. The juice of nettles rubbed on a wart for 10 to 12 days is a reliable remedy to eliminate them.

A tincture made of the seeds is recommended for goiter and low thyroid. In raising thyroid function, it effectively reduces the associated obesity.   (6)

Infusion: Take to stimulate the circulation and to cleanse the system in arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and eczema. Also increases milk flow in nursing mothers. The fresh shoots make a revitalizing spring tonic.

Tincture: Used in combinations for arthritic disorders, skin problems, and heavy uterine bleeding.

Compress: Soak a pad in the tincture, and apply to painful arthritic joints, gout, neuralgia, sprains, tendinitis, and sciatica.

Ointment: Apply to hemorrhoids.

Wash: Apply to burns, insect bites, and wounds.

Juice: Liquidize the whole fresh plant to make a good tonic for debilitated conditions and anemia, and to soothe nettle stings. Prescribed for cardiac insufficiency with edema.

Powder: The powdered leaves are inhaled as snuff for nosebleeds.   (15)  

Dosage: 9-30 gms. (6)

Notes:   According to tradition, Ceasar’s troops introduced the Roman nettle (U. pilulifera) into Britain because they thought that they would need to flail themselves with nettles to keep warm, and until recently “urtication,” or beating with nettles, was a standard folk remedy for arthritis and rheumatism. Nettles are still used medicinally and make a cleansing spring tonic and a nourishing vegetable if gathered when the leaves are young.

“…they consume the phlegmatic superfluities which Winter has left behind.”  Nicholas Culpepper, 1653.     (15)



(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pgs. 333-334

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 108, 144-145, 150-151

(29) Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville, pg. 201


PHOTO: Wikipedia