Nettle leaf is commonly used in herbal medicine, and its leaves can also be cooked and eaten. Besides the green leaves taste good, they are also incredibly nutritious and good for the skin and hair. In this article, we will discuss ten proven health benefits of nettle leaf that will give you a reason to eat nettles!
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Background of Nettle Leaf
Its scientific name is Urtica dioica which is driven from the Latin word “uro”, which means “to burn,” because its leaves cause a temporary burning sensation upon contact.
It is also known as common nettle, stinging nettle, or nettle leaf. This herb is found worldwide but is especially common in Europe, North America, North Africa, and parts of Asia (1).
Because of the numerous health benefits of nettle leaf, it has been used as a medicinal herb since ancient times.
The powders, tinctures, creams, and teas can be prepared using leaves, stem, or root from the nettle plant. Its root has been used for healthy prostate function. Ancient Egyptians used nettle leaf to treat arthritis and lower back pain (2).
Sometimes this superfood is closer to us than we want it to be. If you are unlucky (lucky?) It grows on our own plot. It often grows to about 2 meters in height and is known for its stinging leaves.
Health Benefits of Nettle Leaf
1. Energy Support
Many of the healthy benefits of the nettle leaf are due to its high nutrient content. The plant contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K along with calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein, beta-carotene, and chlorophyll (3).
Nettle leaf provides bone-fortifying calcium, magnesium, and iron (2). The calcium along with vitamin D and magnesium helps to protect bone density. Low calcium and magnesium are linked to osteoporosis; a chronic condition of weak and fragile bones.
2. Immune Support
The nettle plant contains several immune-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins A and C. Nettle leaf balances the body’s inflammatory reactions and promotes upper respiratory health (3).
Research shows that the nettle plant extracts strengthen the immune response by encouraging immune cell activity.
Scientists also found that the plant stimulates the T-cells of the immune system. The T-cells help fight infection and other disease-causing pathogens in the body (4).
Related: 16 Foods to Immune System Boost
3. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation is a protective mechanism by which the body heals itself and protects against infections. But inflammation for a long period can inflict significant harm.
Nettle leaf is commonly used throughout North America and Europe for treating inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties (5).
Several studies signifying the anti-inflammatory therapeutic potential and anticipated mechanism of action of nettle leaf have been reported (4). Ten clinical trials evaluating its use for the treatment of osteoarthritis have been conducted successfully (6).
4. Treats UTI and Bph
Nettle leaf may help to flush the harmful bacteria from the urinary tract. The leaves and seeds of nettle leaf are used both as mild diuretics and for the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTI) (5).
Approximately 50% of men aged above 50 suffer from the enlarged prostate gland, (7) commonly known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which causes discomfort during urination.
The root of the nettle plant has been suggested as a treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (8).
5. Treats Hay Fever
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollens. Nettle leaf can be use as an herbal remedy for seasonal allergies.
Nettle leaf plant is a natural treatment for hay fever as it blocks histamine receptors and prevents the release of allergy-inducing substances from immune cells (9).
6. Lowers Blood Pressure
The health benefits of nettle leaf also involve reducing high blood pressure.
According to the center for disease control (CDC), every 1/3 American adults suffer from hypertension. Cardiovascular disorders, predominantly hypertension, have been treated with nettle leaf traditionally (10).
It stimulates the production of nitric oxide which acts as a vasodilator hence relaxing the muscles along the blood vessels. It has compounds that act as calcium channel blockers, which relax the heart by reducing the force of contractions (11).
7. Aids Blood Sugar Control
Oral ingestion of nettle leaves has revealed to reduce blood glucose levels (12). The plant contains some compounds that mimic insulin but the mechanism of action is still unknown.
The effect of nettle plant extract on blood biomarkers associated with inflammation and insulin resistance was investigated in a study including 50 men and women (13).
8. Natural Diuretic
Nettle plant acts as a natural diuretic by helping the body to shed excess salt and water, which in turn helps to lower blood pressure and promote the kidney’s health (14).
9. Promotes Liver Health
The antioxidant properties of nettle leaf protect the liver against damage by toxins, heavy metals, and inflammation (15).
10. Wound Healing
Many pharmacological ointments contain nettle leaf as active ingredients that support wound healing, also burn wounds. Nettle leaf contains vitamin C and iron that may assist in the healing process (16).
How to Use Nettle Leaf
There are many ways that nettle leaf can be used to increase your overall health condition, and below are just a few of the most important ones.
From April to June is the best time to pick nettles. You just take the small, thin leaves on top and leave the coarse leaves and stems.
Be careful when picking the nettles so that you do not burn. Wear gloves and kitchen scissors, which will make it all easy and painless. You can then either pick and freeze your pickled nettles, or dry to a hose powder. This way you will have nettles all year round.
If you do not have access to pick your own nettles, then there is an option to buy nettle powder. You can use the nettle powder to nourish your diet or you can use it in baking and cooking.
You can make nettle and nettle soup, add in your smoothie or simply mix with water and drink as a nutritious drink. You can also use nettle powder in soothing baths and foot baths as well as a range of beauty and health treatments. The health-promoting weed is definitely a food that we should include more of in our diet.
The health benefits of nettle leaf are numerous, and we have explained a few. If you keep at it, the health benefits of nettle leaf will begin to pay off.