Nettle

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Nettle

Common Names

  • Stinging nettle
  • Common nettle
  • Greater nettle

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.


How It Works

Several studies suggest nettle may help relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and osteoarthritis, but additional studies are needed.

Nettle is a perennial herbaceous flowering plant native to Asia, Europe, and North America. The root is widely used to treat BPH, allergies, arthritis, and inflammation. Nettle is usually combined with herbs such as saw palmetto and pygeum for the treatment of BPH.

Limited data from clinical studies suggest nettle may be helpful for arthritis and symptoms associated with benign prostatic syndrome. A combination of saw palmetto and nettle reduced nighttime urinary frequency, and was similar to some drugs in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms or BPH. Nettle might also help improve blood sugar control, but additional studies are needed. Although anticancer properties have been described in lab studies, clinical trials have yet to be conducted.

Purported Uses
  • To treat allergies
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To treat arthritis
    Clinical trials support the topical use of nettle for arthritis, but larger studies are needed to confirm these data.
  • To treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
    When combined with other herbs, nettle has shown positive results in clinical trials.
  • To clear up chest congestion
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
  • To treat urinary tract disorders and difficult or painful urination
    Nettle was shown to have beneficial effects in clinical studies.
  • To calm muscle spasms
    Evidence is lacking to support this claim.
Do Not Take If
  • You are taking CYP450 substrate drugs: Animal studies suggest nettle may increase the risk of side effects of these drugs. Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
  • You are taking diuretics or blood pressure drugs: Animal studies suggest nettle may have additive effects. Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
Side Effects

Case reports

  • With nettle tea intake, enlarged breasts in a man and nipple discharge in a woman.
  • Hives in a breastfed infant following a mother’s use of water boiled with stinging nettle to heal nipple cracks.
  • Low blood sugar in a 78-year-old man after taking an herbal remedy containing nettle for BPH.
  • Allergic rhinitis in 2 patients following exposure to nettle pollen.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Urtica dioica
Clinical Summary

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). Other preclinical data suggest nettle has antiproliferative effects in prostate cancer cells (10), may protect against cisplatin-induced toxicity (11), enhance cancer cell sensitivity to paclitaxel (22) or increase cisplatin cytotoxicity (23).

Studies in humans are limited, but suggest benefits with nettle in osteoarthritis of the hip, knee (4), and hand (5), gonarthritis (20), and for symptoms associated with benign prostatic syndrome (6) (7) (8). A combination of saw palmetto and nettle improved nocturnal voiding frequency compared to placebo, and was similar to tamsulosin or finasteride for moderate to severe lower urinary tract symptoms/BPH (21). In another study, nettle improved glycemic control in type-2 diabetic patients (9).

Purported Uses
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Benign prostatic hypertrophy
  • Chest congestion
  • Urinary problems
  • Spasms
Mechanism of Action

In vitro studies show that nettle extract inhibits several inflammatory events responsible for seasonal allergies (2). These include antagonist and negative agonist activity against the histamine-1 receptor, and inhibition of prostaglandin formation via inhibition of COX-1, COX-2, and hematopoietic prostaglandin D2 synthase, key enzymes in proinflammatory pathways (2).

Phenolic compounds derived from nettle inhibited alpha-glucosidase and alpha-amylase, chief enzymes involved in type-2 diabetes (24). Inhibition of these enzymes results in decreased reabsorption of glucose in the intestine.

Compounds in nettle essential oil including carvacrol may have cytotoxic and genotoxic effects (12).

Adverse Reactions

Case reports

  • With nettle tea intake, gynecomastia in a man and galactorrhea in a woman (15).
  • Urticaria in a breastfed infant following a mother’s use of water boiled with stinging nettle to heal nipple cracks (16).
  • Hypoglycemia in a 78-year-old man after taking an herbal remedy containing nettle for BPH (17).
  • Allergic rhinitis in 2 patients following exposure to nettle pollen (25).
  • Urticaria and pain in 2 adults after contact with an Australian nettle tree that required ICU admission (26).
Herb-Drug Interactions
  • CYP450 substrates: Animal studies suggest nettle inhibits CYP450 enzymes and may affect intracellular concentrations of drugs metabolized by these enzymes (18). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
  • Diuretics: Theoretically nettle may have an additive effect due to its diuretic activity (19). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
  • Hypotensives: Animal studies suggest nettle has hypotensive action and may enhance effects of hypotensive drugs (19). Clinical relevance has yet to be determined.
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
References
  1. Sayhan MB, Kanter M, Oguz S, et al. Protective effect of Urtica dioica L. on renal ischemia/reperfusion injury in rat. J Mol Histol. Dec 2012;43(6):691-698.
  2. Oguz S, Kanter M, Erboga M, et al. Protective effect of Urtica dioica on liver damage induced by biliary obstruction in rats. Toxicol Ind Health. Oct 2013;29(9):838-845.
  3. Genc Z, Yarat A, Tunali-Akbay T, et al. The effect of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) seed oil on experimental colitis in rats. J Med Food. Dec 2011;14(12):1554-1561.
  4. Jacquet A, Girodet PO, Pariente A, et al. Phytalgic, a food supplement, vs placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Arthritis Res Ther. 2009;11(6):R192.
  5. Randall C, Randall H, Dobbs F, et al. Randomized controlled trial of nettle sting for treatment of base-of-thumb pain. J R Soc Med. Jun 2000;93(6):305-309.
  6. Schneider T, Rubben H. [Stinging nettle root extract (Bazoton-uno) in long term treatment of benign prostatic syndrome (BPS). Results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled multicenter study after 12 months]. Urologe A. Mar 2004;43(3):302-306.
  7. Safarinejad MR. Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Herb Pharmacother. 2005;5(4):1-11.
  8. Lopatkin N, Sivkov A, Schlafke S, et al. Efficacy and safety of a combination of Sabal and Urtica extract in lower urinary tract symptoms—long-term follow-up of a placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial. Int Urol Nephrol. 2007;39(4):1137-1146.
  9. Kianbakht S, Khalighi-Sigaroodi F, Dabaghian FH. Improved glycemic control in patients with advanced type 2 diabetes mellitus taking Urtica dioica leaf extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clin Lab. 2013;59(9-10):1071-1076.
  10. Konrad L, Muller HH, Lenz C, et al. Antiproliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells by a stinging nettle root (Urtica dioica) extract. Planta Med. Feb 2000;66(1):44-47.
  11. Ozkol H, Musa D, Tuluce Y, et al. Ameliorative influence of Urtica dioica L against cisplatin-induced toxicity in mice bearing Ehrlich ascites carcinoma. Drug Chem Toxicol. Jul 2012;35(3):251-257.
  12. Gul S, Demirci B, Baser KH, et al. Chemical composition and in vitro cytotoxic, genotoxic effects of essential oil from Urtica dioica L. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol. May 2012;88(5):666-671.
  13. Roschek B, Jr., Fink RC, McMichael M, et al. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytother Res. Jul 2009;23(7):920-926.
  14. Lichius JJ, Renneberg H, Blaschek W, et al. The inhibiting effects of components of stinging nettle roots on experimentally induced prostatic hyperplasia in mice. Planta Med. Oct 1999;65(7):666-668.
  15. Sahin M, Yilmaz H, Gursoy A, et al. Gynaecomastia in a man and hyperoestrogenism in a woman due to ingestion of nettle (Urtica dioica). N Z Med J. 2007;120(1265):U2803.
  16. Uslu S, Bulbul A, Diler B, et al. Urticaria due to Urtica dioica in a neonate. Eur J Pediatr. Mar 2011;170(3):401-403.
  17. Edgcumbe DP, McAuley D. Hypoglycaemia related to ingestion of a herbal remedy. Eur J Emerg Med. Aug 2008;15(4):236-237.
  18. Ozen T, Korkmaz H. Modulatory effect of Urtica dioica L. (Urticaceae) leaf extract on biotransformation enzyme systems, antioxidant enzymes, lactate dehydrogenase and lipid peroxidation in mice. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(5):405-415.
  19. Tahri A, Yamani S, Legssyer A, et al. Acute diuretic, natriuretic and hypotensive effects of a continuous perfusion of aqueous extract of Urtica dioica in the rat. J Ethnopharmacol. Nov 2000;73(1-2):95-100.
  20. Moré M, Gruenwald J, Pohl U, Uebelhack R. A Rosa canina - Urtica dioica - Harpagophytum procumbens/zeyheri Combination Significantly Reduces Gonarthritis Symptoms in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Study. Planta Med. 2017 Dec;83(18):1384-1391.
  21. Oelke M, Berges R, Schläfke S, Burkart M. Fixed-dose combination PRO 160/120 of sabal and urtica extracts improves nocturia in men with LUTS suggestive of BPH: re-evaluation of four controlled clinical studies. World J Urol. 2014 Oct;32(5):1149-54.
  22. Mohammadi A, Mansoori B, Aghapour M, Shirjang S, Nami S, Baradaran B. The Urtica dioica extract enhances sensitivity of paclitaxel drug to MDA-MB-468 breast cancer cells Biomed Pharmacother. 2016 Oct;83:835-842.
  23. D’Abrosca B, Ciaramella V, Graziani V, et al. Urtica dioica L. inhibits proliferation and enhances cisplatin cytotoxicity in NSCLC cells via Endoplasmic Reticulum-stress mediated apoptosis. Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 21;9(1):4986.
  24. Bouchentouf S, Said G, Kambouche N, Kress S. Identification of phenolic compounds from nettle as new candidate inhibitors of main enzymes responsible on type-II diabetes. Curr Drug Discov Technol. 2020;17(2):197-202.
  25. Tiotiu A, Brazdova A, Longé C, et al. Urtica dioica pollen allergy: Clinical, biological, and allergomics analysis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2016 Nov;117(5):527-534.
  26. Maor D, Little M. Skin contact with a stinging tree requiring intensive care unit admission. Contact Dermatitis. 2017 Nov;77(5):335-337.
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