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Stinging Nettles Herb

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Urtica dioica L. Family: Urticaceae

COMMON NAME(S): Stinging nettle, nettle

History

This plant is known for its stinging properties. However, it has been used in traditional medicine as a diuretic, antispasmodic, expectorant, and treatment for asthma. The juice has been purported to stimulate hair growth when applied to the scalp. Extracts of the leaves have been used topically for the treatment of rheumatic disorders. The tender tips of young nettles have been used as a cooked pot herb in salads.

Botany :- Nettles are perennial plants native to Europe and found throughout the US and parts of Canada. This plant has an erect stalk and stands up to 0.9 m. It has dark green serrated leaves that grow opposite each other along the stalk. The plant flowers from June to September. The leaves contain bristles that transmit irritating principles upon contact. The fruit of nettles is a small, oval, yellow-brown seed approximately 1 mm wide.

Uses of Nettles

Proven as a diuretic, nettles are being investigated as treatment for hay fever and irrigation of the urinary tract.

A decoction of the plant is good for diarrhea. A decoction of the root is recommended for external use on the scalp for loss of hair. The fresh leaves have sometimes been used as a Rubefacient., but severe irritation and blistering can result. Nettle can also be eaten as a vegetable, but old plants
must be thoroughly cooked to be safe. Young plants in the spring can be used for salad or as a vegetable.

Side Effects of Nettles

External side effects result from skin contact and take the form of burning and stinging that persist for 12 hours or more. Internal side effects are rare and allergic in nature.

Dosage

Two to three 300 mg nettle leaf capsules or tablets or 2-4 ml tincture can be taken three times per day for to reduce allergies during allergy season. For mild BPH in men, 120 mg of a concentrated root extract in capsules can be taken two times per day.

Many products for BPH will combine nettle root with saw palmetto or pygeum extracts.

Toxicology

Nettles are known primarily for their ability to induce topical irritation following contact with exposed skin, accompanied by a stinging sensation lasting 12 hours or more. A report closely associates mast cells and dermal dendritic cells. Immediate reaction to nettles' sting is caused by histamine content, while the persistence of the sting may be caused by other substances directly toxic to nerves.

The stinging hairs of the nettle plant comprise a fine capillary tube, a bladder like base filled with the chemical irritant, and a minute spherical tip, which breaks off on contact, leaving a sharp point that penetrates the skin. The irritants are forced into the skin as the hair bends and constricts the bladder at the base.

Topical irritation is treated by gently washing the affected area with mild soapy water. Treatment with systemic antihistamines and topical steroids may be of benefit. Other side effects of nettles are rare but include allergic effects such as edema, oliguria, and gastric irritation.

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