Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), also known as Dwarf Nettle, Greater Nettle and Nettle Wort, is an herbal extract derived from the leaves and roots of the stinging nettle plant. The plant is covered with prickly hairs that sting when touched, but the leaves and roots have been used medicinally for centuries, treating various ailments including itching, rheumatism, diabetes, kidney problems, and dandruff. Current research validates its traditional use, finding that Stinging Nettle may have health benefits including anti-inflammatory and hormonal effects. [1-5]
Stinging nettle contains potent bioactive principles (e.g. caffeic malic acid) that may lend to its anti-inflammatory and hormonal actions. Research suggests that stinging nettle may relieve inflammation by blocking the production of inflammatory compounds known as leukotrienes.  Research has also found that stinging nettle may help relieve BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) by inhibiting the binding of dihydrotestosterone (a more potent form of testosterone) to cellular receptors in the male prostate gland.  In BPH there is an increased concentration of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) within the prostate gland.
Aerial parts (root, leaf)
Stinging Nettle Uses
Stinging nettle’s main application may be in its use concerning prostate health. Several studies have shown that stinging nettle root may be beneficial for symptomatic relief of enlarged prostate. [6-8] A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study found that treatment with stinging nettle relieved symptoms in 246 men with BPS over a one year period.  Another double-blind study found that a combination of Urtica dioica and Pygeum africanum (African prune, pygeum) extracts relieved symptoms such as frequent urination and weak urinary flow in 134 BPH patients. 
As mentioned, stinging nettle may also be used for its anti-inflammatory benefits, in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). [4, 5, 9] One in vivo study suggests that extracts of stinging nettle leaves may inhibit the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-kappaB, a compound that is elevated in several chronic inflammatory diseases including RA.  However, more studies are needed to determine stinging nettle efficacy on these particular conditions.
Stinging nettle may be an effective supplement for treating certain allergies and hay fever. Studies suggest that supplementation with the freeze-dried leaf of stinging nettle may reduce symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, and itching. [10-11] One double-blind, randomized study found that treatment with the freeze-dried leaf of stinging nettle improved symptoms in 69 allergic rhinitis patients compared to placebo. 
- For stinging nettle root capsules; 250 mg, 2 times daily
- For stinging nettle freeze-dried leaf capsules; take 600 mg, 2-4 times daily
- For liquid, take 30-60 drops of a 1:1 w/v (fresh plant) or a 1:4 w/v (dry plant) extract, 2-4 times daily in beverage
- For stinging nettle root tea, briefly boil 1.4 gm (about 1 teaspoonful) of coarsely powdered root in cold water, steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Take 4-6 grams (about 3 to 4 1/2 teaspoonfuls) daily
- For stinging nettle leaf tea, briefly boil 1.4 gm (about 2 teaspoonfuls) of finely cut leaf in cold water, steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Take 8 to 12 grams (about 10 to 15 teaspoonfuls) total daily, and drink the tea several times daily.
Delivery Forms: Capsules, liquid, powdered herb. [2-3]
Stinging nettle leaf should not be taken by those individuals retaining water from a heart or kidney condition. Pregnant, lactating women, and children should not take supplemental stinging nettle, unless recommended by a health care provider. Stinging nettle leaf should be taken with at least 8 large glasses of fluid a day.
Side effects may occasionally result. Mild stomach problems have been witnessed in persons taking the root. Swelling or skin reactions can occur when supplementing with the leaf. Skin contact with the plant may induce hives in those susceptible.
Due to its potential interactions, individuals should avoid combining stinging nettle with uric acid lowering drugs (such as colchicine, allopurinol, probenecid, and sulfinpyrazone).
Always inform your health care provider about the dietary supplements you are taking, since there may be a potential for side effects, interactions, or allergy. [2-3]
1. Balch JF, and Balch PA. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd ed. New York: Penguin Putnam Avery, 2000: 754-762.
2. Stinging Nettle, Dietary Supplement Information Bureau:
3. Stinging Nettle, PDR Health:
4. Duke J. The Green Pharmacy, New York: St. Martin’s Paperback, 1998: 40, 118, 255, 450-51,
5. Obertreis B, et al. Anti-inflammatory Effect of Urtica dioica folia Extract in Comparison to Caffeic Malic Acid. Arzneim-Forsch/Drug Res. Jan1996;46(1):52-56.
6. Schneider T, Rubben H. [Stinging nettle root extract (Bazoton-uno) in long term treatment of benign prostatic syndrome (BPS). Results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled multicenter study after 12 months.] Urologe A. 2004 Mar;43(3):302-6.
7. Krzeski T, et al. Combined Extracts of Urtica dioica and Pygeum africanum in the Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Double-blind Comparison of Two Doses. Clin Ther. 1993;15(6):1011-20.
8. Romics I. Observations with Bazoton in the management of prostatic hyperplasia. Int Urol Nephrol 1987 19(3):293-7.
9. Riehemann K et al. Plant extracts from stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), an antirheumatic remedy, inhibit the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-kappaB. FEBS Lett. 1999 Jan 8;442(1):89-94.
10. Mittman P. Randomized, Double-blind Study of Freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis. Planta Med. Feb1990;56(1):44-47.
11. Thornhill SM et al. Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Oct;5(5):448-54.