Stinging Nettle and Health Benefits

Stinging Nettle and Health Benefits

Stinging Nettle is most easily recognized by its straight, rigid stems that may be reddish in color. This plant, which grows as tall as 3 feet, is most often found in mountain meadows and valleys of temperate climates. The leaves are pointed with notches and grow in ladder-like arrangements. Fuzzy strings of very small yellow or pink flowers grow on separate stems close to the main stalk. Short, stiff hairs that secrete irritating chemicals when mature cover the leaves and stems. The leaf tips may be collected safely early in the spring before the irritating bristles develop. They can safely be cooked as a vegetable or added to salads as a good source of beta carotene, calcium, potassium, and vitamins C and K. The entire top part of the plant is cut and dried just after the flowers bloom for use in herbal preparations. Most of the irritating chemicals are removed by drying the plants.

Used for hundreds of years, stinging nettle today is most often used in connection with urinary problems during the early stages of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH).

Dosage

For BPH, 120 mg of a concentrated root extract in capsules can be taken two times per day. However, talk with your health care professional before taking nettle for BPH and related conditions. There are a variety products for BPH that will combine nettle root with saw palmetto or pygeum extracts. We suggest considering these products before taking a pure nettle leaf supplement.

This herb is not recommended for children.

Precautions

Always use as directed. Be careful if you are handling the nettle plant for you may get hives or a rash with skin contact. Mild side effects include gastrointestinal irritation, excess fluid, or decreased urine flow. Do not take if you are pregnant or nursing. Stinging nettle can also change the menstrual cycle. Always check with your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.

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