Urtica dioica Linn
Synonyms: Urtica galeopsifolia.
A perennial plant, 1-3m high.
It is a plant growing in temperate and tropical wasteland areas around the world.
Nettle’s main plant chemicals include: acetophenone, acetylcholine, agglutinins, alkaloids, astragalin, butyric acid, caffeic acids, carbonic acid, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, choline, coumaric acid, folacin, formic acid, friedelins, histamine, kaempherols, koproporphyrin, lectins, lecithin, lignans, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, neoolivil, palmitic acid, pantothenic acid, quercetin, quinic acid, scopoletin, secoisolariciresinol, serotonin, sitosterols, stigmasterol, succinic acid, terpenes, violaxanthin, and xanthophylls. The stinging sensation of the leaf hairs is caused by several plant chemicals including formic acid, histamine, serotonin, and choline.
Traditional Use and Activity
In folk medicine nettle plants have been used as a diuretic, to build the blood, for arthritis and rheumatism. Externally it has been used to improve the appearance of the hair, and is said to be a remedy against oily hair and dandruff.
Nettle’s long-standing use as an anti-inflammatory aid for rheumatism and arthritis has been confirmed with clinical research.
Nettle is now an ingredient in many herbal formulas for prostate health. The last area of research on nettle focuses on its usefulness for prostate inflammation (prostatitis) and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Because the plant contains 3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran, certain extracts of the nettle are used by bodybuilders in an effort to increase free testosterone.
Stinging nettle has a flavour similar to spinach when cooked and is rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce. Soaking nettles in water or cooking will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging.