Nettle is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant, native to Asia, Europe, and North America. The root is widely used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), allergies, arthritis, and inflammation. Nettle is usually combined with herbs such as saw palmetto and pygeum for the treatment of BPH. Several compounds have been isolated from nettle including flavonoid glycosides that appear to contribute to its biological effects, although the precise mechanism of action is unclear.
In vitro and animal studies indicate that nettle extract has reno- (1) and hepatoprotective (2) properties, and is effective against colitis in mice (3).
Data from a few clinical trials suggest benefits of nettle in the treatment of osteoarthritis of hip, knee (4) and hand (5) and in ameliorating symptoms associated with benign prostatic syndrome (BPS) (6) (7) (8). In another study nettle improved glycemic control in type-2 diabetic patients (9).
Nettle may also have anticancer potential. It demonstrated anti-proliferative effects in human prostate cancer cells (10), and protected against cisplatin-induced toxicity (11).