Stinging nettle above ground parts is used for allergies,
allergic rhinitis, and musculoskeletal disease such as
osteoarthritis. It is also used orally in conjunction with
copious fluid intake in so-called "irrigation therapy" for
urinary tract infections, urinary tract inflammation, and kidney
stones. People also use the above ground parts of stinging nettle
for internal bleeding, including uterine bleeding, epistaxis, and
melena; anemia; poor circulation; splenomegaly; diabetes and
other endocrine disorders; gastric hyperacidity; biliary
complaints; diarrhea and dysentery; asthma; pulmonary congestion;
rash and eczema; cancer; prevention of signs of aging; blood
purification; wound healing; and as a general tonic.
In foods, young stinging nettle leaves are eaten as a cooked
In manufacturing, stinging nettle extract is used as an
ingredient in hair and skin products.
No concerns regarding safety when used orally and appropriately.
Pregnancy and Lactation: Refer to a Medical Herbalist.
INSUFFICIENT RELIABLE EVIDENCE to RATE
Allergic rhinitis (hayfever). There is preliminary evidence that
stinging nettle above ground parts might improve symptoms of
allergic rhinitis. Starting stinging nettle at the first sign of
symptoms seems to provide subjective improvement.22
Osteoarthritis. There is evidence that oral or topical use of
stinging nettle leaf extract might improve symptoms of pain in
patients with osteoarthritis.23,24 Some clinicians use
stinging nettle leaf extract in combination with conventional
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other
analgesics. Evidence suggests that adding stinging nettle might
allow for using lower analgesic doses in some
patients.24 Topically, stinging nettle leaf seems to
improve pain and disability in patients with osteoarthritis of
the thumb, according to preliminary research.25
More evidence would be helpful to rate stinging nettle for these
Mechanism of Action:
The applicable parts of stinging nettle are the above ground
Stinging nettle leaves contain several nutrients and active
constituents. The leaves are eaten as a food because of
significant amounts carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium,
and calcium.26,27,28,29 There is about as much vitamin
C and carotene in stinging nettle leaves as in spinach and other
greens.30 The leaves also contain beta-sitosterol and
the flavonoids quercetin, rutin, kaempferol, and others. Stinging
nettle tops seems to have a variety of pharmacological effects
anti-inflammatory,29 local anesthetic,23
hemostatic,31 antibacterial,28 and
For osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, stinging
nettle above ground parts might work due to potential analgesic
and anti-inflammatory effects.24,25
Some researchers think that stinging nettle might be beneficial
for allergic rhinitis due to quercetin content. Quercetin is
thought to have anti-inflammatory and mast-cell stabilizing
effects. It decreases histamine release from basophils and mast
Stinging nettle seems to also act as a diuretic. The leaf juice
can increase urine output and slightly decrease systolic blood
pressure and body weight in people with venous
insufficiency.23,28 Because of these effects, some
people use stinging nettle for urinary tract disorders, including
urinary tract infections (UTIs) and kidney stones. Stinging
nettle also seems to decrease blood pressure and heart
Stinging nettle above ground parts is generally well-tolerated.
Interactions with Drugs:
Interactions with Foods:
Interactions with Lab Tests:
Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:
Dr Clare’s Blends: 1 gm per day
For osteoarthritis, people typically use crude stinging nettle
leaf 9 grams daily.24
For allergic rhinitis, people typically use stinging nettle leaf
extract 300 mg three times daily. However, in some cases, 300 mg
up to seven times daily has been used.22
Dr Clare’s Comment
Stinging nettle leaf has a long history of use. It was used
primarily as a diuretic and laxative as early as the times of the
Greek physicians Dioscorides and Galen.
Specific References: STINGING NETTLE
22. Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of
freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
Planta Med 1990;56:44-7.
23. Monographs on the medicinal uses of plant drugs.
Exeter, UK: European Scientific Co-op Phytother, 1997.
24. Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of
Phytotherapy. London: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.
25. Randall C, Randall H, Dobbs F, et al. Randomized
controlled trial of nettle sting for treatment of base-of-thumb
pain. J R Soc Med 2000;93:305-9.
26. Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E
Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Trans. S.
Klein. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council, 1998.