Urtica Dioica is commonly known as stinging nettle. This remarkable plant has been known since ancient times for its many healing properties. All traditional healing systems have used this plant and its byproducts for curing diseases. Even today it is used widely, helped by modern research, which has confirmed the scientific basis of its traditional uses.
The plant has sharply pointed hairy spines mostly on the underside of its heart-shaped leaves and stems. These spines are hollow and contain a toxic substance, which is released when the spines pierce the skin. The contact with the skin causes inflammation and pain. But it can lessen the pain of a part of the body, already in pain. Therefore, it is also called a counterirritant. It lessens the pain caused by its own nettles as well as insect bites.
For centuries, nettles have been used to strike paralyzed arms and legs in order to activate them. It was best known for treating rheumatism, arthritis, eczema, and anemia. It has been very successfully used in the treatment of some cases of rheumatism and arthritis. Today it is used widely in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), various urinary problems and kidney stones.
- It prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. This conversion has negative effects such as spurring prostate growth.
- It helps to keep molecules of testosterone free from a protein known as steroid hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG can prevent testosterone from binding with its receptors in the muscle cells.
- Taking Urtica Dioica can result in higher levels of free testosterone in the body, which of course can help with lean tissue growth.
Research has shown that nettles, combined with some herbs, especially palmetto, can be very effective in treating BPH and urinary ailments like frequent urge to urinate, incomplete urination, and post urination dripping. Nettles can be as effective as finasteride, the commonly prescribed drug, in slowing down prostate growth. However, unlike finasteride, it cannot reduce prostate size.
The root of this plant affects human sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen. This is probably why it is used for BPH treatment.
It is used to treat children for asthma, cold and allergies. The leaf is anti-inflammatory and prevents the body from producing, prostaglandins – an inflammation-causing chemical. Nettles can also be used to treat hemorrhage symptoms like uterine hemorrhage. The leaves are excellent blood purifiers. All over Europe nettles is still used as a detoxifying agent.
Urtica dioicia is also used in hair care. Herbalists claim it can bring back the original hair color, stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss. In fact nettle is used widely in shampoos, conditioners and skin cleansing agents.
Watering plants with nettle tea stimulates their growth and makes them more bug resistant and plants growing near nettles have higher volatile oil content. When lactating animals are fed nettles they produce more milk and chickens produce more eggs.
Care must be taken to minimize side effects. Urtica Dioca, like any herb, has substances that cause unwanted side effects. Treatment should, therefore, be done under the care of an herbal specialist.
The side effects of nettles are mild stomach upset, fluid retention and hives. Nettle must be handled carefully as contact with it can cause allergic rashes like dermatitis and hives. As nettles can change the menstrual cycle, pregnant women should not use it and lactating women should avoid excessive use.
Presently it is believed polysaccharides and lectins are its most active constituent. It is rich in iodine, which makes it beneficial for thyroid treatment. Nettle leaves are said to contain flavanoids and potassium, which are useful in the treatment of urinary problems.
Some other primary ingredients found in nettles are Formic acid, histamine, iron, calcium, magnesium and chlorophyll. The plant is also rich in vitamins A and C.
Urtica Dioca or nettle products come as dried leaves, tea and as a solution of the nettle in alcohol called root tincture. It is also available in capsule form.
For adults if it is tea then brew 3 to 4 tsp of dried leaf or root in ¾ cup of water for about 3 to 5 minutes. Drink daily three or four cups. More tealeaves can be added for further infusion. Always have at least 2 quarts of water along with the tea.
For dried leaf the dosage is 2 to 4gms taken thrice daily. For root fluidextract, the dosage is 1.5ml to be had three to four times a day and for leaf fluidextract, it is 2 to 5 ml three times a day. The dosage for tincture of Urtica dioicia is 7.5ml 3 to 4 times a day. Take on an empty stomach.
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