Nettle is a common botanical, native to Africa and western Asia. It has since become naturalized across the globe and can be found wild in many parts of the world. It grows in temperate climates, preferring shady regions with moist soil.
Stinging hairs cover the live plant, helping to protect it from predation. When touched, the hairs cause stinging welts due to the content of formic acid. While the stings can be painful, they don't last long and rarely cause serious harm.
After being picked, the acid deteriorates quickly and the stinging hairs begin losing potency within minutes.
The harvested leaves are a favorite source of medicine and have also been used for centuries for food and fabric. The healing powers of nettle are well steeped in the folklore and traditions of various cultures.
Nettle has been used for centuries to treat allergy symptoms, particularly hay fever which is the most common allergy problem.
It contains biologically active compounds that reduce inflammation. Dr. Andrew Wiel M.D. author of Natural Health/ Natural Medicine says he knows of nothing more effective than nettle for allergy relief. And his statement is backed up by studies at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
Nettle has none of the side effects (such as drowsiness, dry sinuses, insomnia and high blood pressure, etc.) known in case of decongestants and antihistamines. It can be used on a regular basis.
Nettle has been studied extensively and has shown promise in treating Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, asthma, bladder infections, bronchitis, bursitis, gingivitis, gout, hives, kidney stones, laryngitis, multiple sclerosis, PMS, prostate enlargement, sciatica, and tendinitis!
An infusion of the plant is very valuable in stemming internal bleeding. It is also used to treat anaemia, excessive menstruation, hemorrhoids, arthritis and.
Nettle may have an anti-inflammatory effect. It may also enhance responses of the immune system. Chemicals in nettle's aerial parts are also thought to reduce the feeling of pain or interfere with the way that nerves send pain signals. All of these effects may reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis and other similar conditions.
Also useful for easing intestinal disorders, high blood pressure, arthritis and gout.
Nettle tea may increase milk production in nursing mothers.
Astringent properties of nettle may also help to lessen the swelling of hemorrhoids and stop bleeding from minor skin injuries such as razor nicks.
An astringent shrinks and tightens the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, thereby reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness.
It may also be used topically for dandruff and overly oily hair and scalp.