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Copyright © 1990 - 2016 by Robert Dale Rogers. All rights reserved.
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STINGING NETTLE

(Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis Ait. Selander)

(U. gracilis Ait.)

(U. lyallii)

FIBRE NETTLE

(U. dioica convar. fibra)

SMALL NETTLE DOG NETTLE

(U. urens L.)

(U. minor Lam.)

HEMP NETTLE

BRITTLE-STEM HEMP NETTLE

(Galeopsis tetrahit var. bifida [Boenn.] Lej. & Court.)

(G. bifida Boenn.)

YELLOW HEMP NETTLE

LARGE FLOWERED HEMP NETTLE

(G. speciosa) WOOD NETTLE

(Laportea canadensis [L.] Weddell)

 

PARTS USED- roots, leaves, seeds and flowers

 

Nettles today, fruit tomorrow.

Three Nettles in May keeps all diseases away.

If they’d eat nettles in March and Mugwort in May, so many young maidens wouldn’t go to the clay.

Pepper too they mix with the seeds

Of the Stinging Nettle…    

OVID

And thorns shall come up in her palaces, Nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be a habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.    

ISIAH 34:13

Tenderhearted stroke a nettle And it stings you for your pains; Grasp it like a man of mettle

And it soft as silk remains.    

AARON HILL

 

Introduction

Nettle may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon NOEDL or needle, referring to the plant’s sharp sting. It may also be related to simply NE to sew, in reference to the use in weaving cloth; or from an Indo- European base NED to twist.

As early as 725 AD, it appeared written as NETLAN and by about 1200 AD had assumed the name NETLE.

Urtica is from the Latin URERE, to burn. This relates to the Italian ORTICA, and French ORTIE for Stinging Nettle.

Dioica means two houses, referring to separate male and female flowers.

Hemp Nettle was originally called Dead Hemp Nettle, for the resemblance of the flowers to Lamium (Dead Nettle) and the leaves to hemp. It was known by 16th century botanists as Cannabis sylvestris.

GALE refers to weasel and OPSIS countenance; meaning the blossoms of hemp nettle look like little weasels. That is a stretch of imagination. Tetrahit is from tetra meaning, four, and refers to the four- sided stem.

Laportea is named for Frances de La Porte, the Count of Castelnau, a French naturalist entomologist who traveled from Canada to Mexico in the early 1800s. He later led scientific expeditions to South America, and died in Australia while the French consul.

In theory, U. dioica is the taller perennial plant, with male and female flowers on each plant, with small nettles (U. urens), the smaller introduced annual with both sexes on the same plant. Both have similar properties if you have difficulty with positive identification.

The leaves of U. dioica are lance or egg-shaped, while U. lyallii leaves are heart-shaped.

Stinging nettle (U. dioica) is indigenous to Eurasia, but now throughout North America, is dioecious, with male and female flowers on same plant. Our native nettle, U. gracilis, tends to be monoecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. Confused yet?

Hemp nettle is, however, from a completely different genus.

Since the tenth century, nettles have been revered as sacred. It was sprinkled around the home or carried along with yarrow for protection. Mexican spiritualists today, still use nettles in purification baths due to its carnivorous nature.

Stinging Nettle and Elder are associated with the first Rune of Nordic divination, FEOH. Early Anglo-Saxons considered WERGULU a sacred plant. It is one of the five bitter herbs consumed during the Herbrow festival of Passover.

As farmers know, it is never a good idea to buy farmland without some nettles, as they indicate rich soil. Nettle fertilized soil is especially good for soft fruit bushes, such as raspberry, currants and cherry.

The dried leaves are over 40% nitrogen, making it an inexpensive addition to livestock feed; cows produce more milk, chickens more eggs, and horses develop nice glossy coats. Pigs thrive on the boiled plant. Horses with peptic troubles benefit from the herb mixed in their feed.

Rudolph Steiner suggested biodynamic sprays of nettle made before the plant flowers. He called the plant ALLERSWELTSKERL, “jack of all trades”, due its versatility in healing other plants, suppressing pests and correcting plant malformations.

This enhances vegetative growth, particularly in dry weather, and is an effective aphid, lice and mildew spray.

Nettle tea is a good way to prevent transplant shock. One report in publication Bio-Dynamics, tells of wax beans severely damaged by a late May frost, recovering after a nettle treatment and producing an outstanding crop.

Nettles are good companion plants of tomato and strawberry; helping them to grow larger and stronger. It increases the essential oil content of mints, valerian and sage grown in proximity.

Studies conducted in Vernon, BC, found aqueous nettle leaf extracts promoted growth in parsley equivalent to that promoted by fish fertilizer, cattle manure, or blood meal.

They are a personal springtime favorite of mine as a potherb, but use them young and under ten inches tall. Even the young shoots can irritate, so use gloves.

If you get stung, crush some dock, touch me not, or elder leaves that usually grow near and rub on the nettle sting. The steaming takes out the sting, but older leaves develop cystoliths that can irritate

the kidneys. Not only are the steamed greens tasty, but they contain secretin, a substance that sloughs off the heavy mucous linings caused by heavy winter foods.

A quick snack is procured by wilting the young shoots in fire for 10-15 seconds thus destroying the formic acid.

Stinging Nettle greens were a common marketplace food during the Bosnian war.

Cooked nettle greens lose their sting, but dried plants do not. One case cited involves the herbarium of Linnaeus, with 200 year-old mounted specimens. A photographer removing the dried nettle from its mountings was stung, and raised a red skin blister, after two centuries.

The unrelated Devil’s Leaf Nettle, of northern Australia, is much worse and can cause pain for up to one year if the leaf is touched.

Nettle roots can be added to soup stock for their valuable protein (25- 42% dried) mineral content and flavour; or roasted over an open fire. And try rubbing the fresh root on recent nettle stings.

Jethro Kloss recommended nettle root decoction to treat first stage dropsy and to stop hemorrhage of the urinary organs, lungs, intestine, nose and stomach.

In ancient Egypt, nettle seed oil was burned in lamps. In Russia, nettles have been used for treating everything from toothache to sciatic pain. Folk medicine in India prescribed nettle for kidney and uterine hemorrhage as well as tuberculosis.

The Zulu of South Africa use small nettle (U. urens) as an aphrodisiac. The powdered plant is snuffed for nosebleeds; and combined in brown sugar syrup for whooping cough.

Small Nettle was considered by the Eclectic physicians, including Dr. King, to be very useful in uterine hemorrhage, easing urethral and cystic irritation, and contributing to milk producing activity.

The Kamsa medicine men of South America grind up nettle root and rub it into the neck to relieve muscular stiffness.

In the Ayurvedic tradition of Indian and Pakistan, stinging nettle is called BICHU, meaning scorpion. It is often applied as a 1:1 diluted tincture to skin affected by the sun or heat.

The First Nations of the prairies used nettles. The Cree call it MASAN or MASANAK, meaning “itchy weed”. The Chipewyan call the plant BEK’ AILHTS’II, and the Slave KOTSII.

They pounded the mature stalks in water to make strong fibre for string, rope and fishing nets, with NET derived from this plant. Cloth made from nettle fibre is strong and durable like flax or hemp. Yields of up to 8 tons per hectare of dry stem have been produced.

Once established, the patch will remain for 10-15 years. The plant fibre is gathered in fall when the plant begins to die. It is retted, like hemp, before the fibre is extracted. The Nitinaht natives of British Columbia made nettle fibre until the 1970s.

The fibre of stinging nettle has high tensile strength, fineness, excellent spinning quality and cell walls that are un-lignified. The fibres have low specific gravity, high strength and with a good elasticity or stress rating.

The use of bast fibre from nettle stalks was documented by Nestorius as far back as 900 AD, with production in Europe starting in the 19th century.

In Germany, work on nettles that started in 1927 has continued with new varieties containing 17% fibre being developed. Fibre yields, dew retted and then separated fibre, has been as high as 1,430 kg/ha, with the average around 900 kg/ha. Mechanical fibre separation could double this due to inclusion of parenchymatic cells with the fibre.

Work by Bredemann over 30 years of crossbreeding has led to long, straight, stable, un-branched stalks, high fibre content and frost tolerance. The upper stalk has higher fibre and lower woody core than the lower part. The tops are therefore best for textile, and the lower half better for insulation material, etc.

Crop rotation with lupine, or other nitrogen fixing legumes would be ideal, for organic production.

Potato and sugar beet are crops that can succeed nettles. Under-sown white clover works well, along with slurry manure.

Stinging nettle increases mint essential oil when grown between rows.

It helps preserve tomatoes from rot and keeps juice for four weeks without preservative or boiling, according to Pfeiffer. “The Stinging Nettle has at least three properties that illustrate its dynamic character: It makes other plants grow more resistant, changes the chemical process in neighbouring crops and stimulates humus formation.”

Nettle leaf dry powder is a great organic fertilizer for parsley, French tarragon and purple coneflower, in work by Tom Li at Summerland, B.C.

Nettle fibre is a cost effective and environmentally good replacement for glass, carbon or asbestos fibre.

The remainder can be used for manufacturing alcohol, or other starch, and protein derivatives. See article by Vogl and Hartl, Am J of Alt Agric 2003 18:3 for more detail.

The Tlingit of Alaska made a red dye by boiling the stems and leaves in urine.

The Cree used decoctions to stop the blood flow or hemorrhage after childbirth.

The root can be boiled and the steam inhaled for asthma. Leaf decoctions are used to wash the face for acne, and taken internally for diarrhea or intestinal worms. The stems only are decocted for urinary difficulty in men.

In Ireland, the boiled root decoction was given for intestinal worms.

Natives of Alaska crushed and heated nettle roots for toothache. It is said that the teeth came out easily the next day.

The Chippewa used root decoctions for urinary complaints and chronic diarrhea.

Various native tribes treated rheumatism by whipping the affected area with nettles, a practice known as urtication. This worked well, possibly due to the formic acid combined acetylcholine and histamine. One hundred nettle hairs contain only a milligram of stinging fluid, so extracting 40 grams takes 100 kilos of fresh nettles. When histamine is injected alone into the skin, there is some minor reddening; but when combined with acetylcholine, the well known burning pain begins. Early Roman soldiers to Britain were said to use urtication to treat their arthritic and rheumatic misery. Medieval monks, of course, urticated to increase their misery by whipping themselves for penance from sinful thoughts.

Asthmatics burned the dried nettle leaves for respiratory relief.

The Kawaiisu counted stinging nettles as one of the four medicines given to them at the beginning of time, along with Datura, tobacco and red ants.

Formic acid when added to silage increases resistance to fungal infestation, another reason to add nettles to your animal fodder.

Six cups of strong nettle tea, with four cups of salt, makes a suitable rennet substitute for making cheese.

In Turkey, nettle seeds are used for treating cancer.

The seeds were formerly used to improve egg production from chickens.

The seeds contain oils and formic acid that make a good scalp conditioner and growth stimulant for hair.

Clairol uses more than 40 tons of nettle leaf a year for their hair conditioning formulas. Other companies such as Suave, Freeman and Aussie use nettle extracts in shampoos and spray gels.

Horses are given up to 20 grams of dried nettle daily to stimulate circulation.

Early German settlers, among others, would grind nettle seed into a powder and add it to wine for the treatment of lumbago or sores of the chest.

This follows the advise of Culpepper, who suggested crushing the seed into white wine, for menstruation, inflammation of the sides and lungs; and provokes sexual desire.

Be careful with the seeds, as even a small amount chewed in the mouth will cause an unpleasant burning sensation.

During the Second World War, the fresh leaf was used like spinach in vegetable sausage, dumplings, soufflé and pies; and the dried leaf powder in cookies.

In Scotland, the plants were forced under glass as “early spring kale”, used as a rennet substitute for making cheese, and made into soups, potherb, etc.

Nettle root was fermented with barley meal dough to produce a good ale. The roots were fermented with yeast to make cough syrup.

The Swedes traditionally used nettle root as a dye for coloring Easter eggs.

Paracelsus expressed nettle juice for its elixir of life qualities. Nettle juice has a more mundane but useful job in making leaky wooden pails waterproof again, by sealing the joints.

The green juice is used in the food industry as a colouring agent in tinned foods like green beans; and a source of chlorophyll like alfalfa. Nettle juice snuffed up the nose, will stop nosebleed.

Dried and ground nettle, yarrow, goldenrod and shepherd’s purse makes an excellent styptic powder to stop bleeding, or added to ointment and salves for hemostatic and antiseptic action.

Dried Nettle combines well with buckbean, bearberry and coltsfoot leaves for an acceptable smoking mixture.

Needless to say, nettles have been used all over the world in making ales.

Nettle and fireweed can be freshly juiced or made into teas to treat molds and mildew in the greenhouse.

Nettle seeds strongly stimulate laying hens to increase capacity, and in small amounts help revitalize the coats of older horses. Dried nettle

leaves also can be added to the diets of dairy cows, sheep, geese, ducks and dogs.

Decoctions of cooled seed tea helps prevent or remove hair balls in long haired cats.

A recipe from the Old English Herbarium suggests combining hemp and nettle seeds in vinegar for a remedy for frostbite.

Post flower nettles are rich in potent anti-oxidants, with similar protection for oily foods as BHT. Monfared et al, J Med Plants Research 2011 5:18.

Hemp Nettle, an introduced annual, is known to the Cree as AMISKO WEHKUSKWA.

They used the scented leaves, roots and flowers to season meat, and make tea.

The tea is taken for calming the nerves, and can be given to childrento calm hyperactivity. It is also used as a spring tonic, and to restore appetite, and treat bad breath. The leaves can be chewed to treat severe hiccups, according to a Dene from Cold Lake.

The Iroquois infused the roots as a ceremonial emetic to cure bewitching.

The Potawatomi infused the plant for various pulmonary troubles. It is known as Plant Smells Good, or MENA’KWUSKUK.

Hemp Nettle has been used for a variety of pulmonary afflictions such as bronchitis, tracheitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, coughs and viral infections of the upper respiratory tract; and as a diuretic.

The plant is resistant to Hemp Nettle 2,4-D based herbicides, and can be an agricultural pest. Horses feeding on hay containing hemp nettle are initially affected by the plant constituents, but then adjust.

Dr. Bohn found that the mineral salt composition of the plant is very close to that of human blood.

Yellow Hemp Nettle is occasionally and rarely found around the Edmonton area. It is larger than its cousin, and has a pale yellow corolla.

Wood Nettle is a native perennial found in the eastern prairies. Various native tribes used the fibre to make thread, rope, canvas and fishing nets.

The Fox tribe used the root to cure urine incontinence, while the Houma decocted the whole plant for fevers.

The Iroquois used infusions of the root to ease childbirth, for tuberculosis, or loneliness because your woman has left.

The Ojibwa recognized the diuretic effects of the root and used it for various urinary ailments.

The freshly, grated root makes a delicious cream soup. Try it, you will be pleasantly surprised.

The closely related L. cuneata is used in Cuba as a decoction for intermittent fevers.

 

 

MEDICINAL

CONSTITUENTS-U. dioica and urens leaf- gallic, caffeic, ferulic, sinapic acids, histamine (19-50 mcg/g leaf), chlorophyll, galacturonic acid, secretin, Vit K, C and Pro Vit A ( beta-carotene, luteoxanthin, violaxanthin, lutein epoxide, and hydroxy- alpha carotene), lecithin, sitosterol, sitosteroglucoside, 16 amino acids, leukotriene B4 and C4, scopoletin, lignans, various sterol derivatives, hydroxyl fatty acids, erucic acid, ursolic acid, scopoletin, rutin, quercitin, p-hydroxyl benzalcohol, terpene diols and their glycosides, acetylcholine( 18-27 mcg/g leaf), choline acetyl- transferase, various phospho-lipids, including phosphatidyl-inositiol, phosphatidyl- ethanolamine, phospha-tidylcholine, and lysophos-phatidyl-choline, esculetin, secoisolarici-resinol, homovanillyl and benzyl alcohol, dotriacotane, hyperin, and serotonin, (5-hydroxytryptamine–0.25 mcg/g leaf). Per 100 grams of dried weight, the leaves contain 2900 mg. calcium, 447 mg. phosphorus, 1750 mg. potassium and 4.7 mg zinc. Boron is 47 ppm- a very rich source. The leaf is rich in silica with a 1:100 decoction of dried leaves simmered for 30 minutes yielding 5 mg. of soluble silica for each gram used.

Water content of fresh leaf is 88%. Pick nettle leaf before bud stage.

U. urens- above and patuletin.

U. dioica root- various sterols, including sitosterol, beta sitosterol, sitosterol B-glucoside, neo-olivol-4-O-glucoside, 9,9’ -bis-neoolivol, six isolectins (0.1-0.2%), UDA (lectin), glucans, ceramides, glucogalacturonans, various acidic arabinogalactans; six lignans, including (+)-neo-olivil, and derivatives, isolariciresinol, secoiso-lariciresinol, and dehydrodi-coniferyl alcohol, various polysaccharides including 2 glucans, 2 rhamno-galacturonans and one arabinogalactan, scopoletin (coumarin), and a variety of hydroxy fatty acids. Also present is HOA ( 9,hydroxy-10-trans-12-cis-octadecadienic acid), and 3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran, a lignan; ursolic acid, 14-octacosanol.

flowers- lignan and flavanol glucosides, scopoletin

seeds- lignans, 23-38% fatty acids, 15-20% protein, mucilage

hairs- acetylcholine, histamine and serotonin, as well as nanogram amounts of leukotrines B4 and LTC/D4.

G. tetrahit- various iridoid derivatives including gluroside, galiridoside, harpagide, and 6-deoxyharpagide, and pseudoindicans; silica; and various flavanoids including apigenin-7-O-glucoside, scutellarin, apigenin and luteolin-7-O-glucuronides; caryo- phyllene, essential oils, gluroside, alpha humulene, linalool, and 3-octanol, various trace minerals. The German phytotherapist Bohn said that Galeopsis comes closest of all plant mineral compositions to that of human blood.

Nettle is an excellent source of organic iron, and indicated for anemia, as well as menstruating and lactating mothers. It is an excellent rebuilder of hemoglobin in red blood cells, and nourishes the liver and uterus. It soothes the uterine and leg pain often experienced after giving birth; and its rich source of Vitamin K prevents postpartum hemorrhage or bleeding. Warm infusions usually suffice to control excessive menstrual flow.

Nettle is amphoteric, meaning it can adjust the flow of breast milk, making its own adjustment higher or lower.

Dr. Vogel of Switzerland suggests, “no other plant can equal nettle in cases of anemia, rickets, scrofula, respiratory diseases and especially lymphatic troubles”. It can be of great help in alleviating the itch associated with Hodgkin’s disease, swollen glands, enlarged lymph nodes, and infection.

The leaves are specific in asthma, due to their anti-spasmodic and histamine action. Tosun et al, J Ethnopharm 95 273-5 found nettle leaf extracts, including water only, active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The leaf has also been shown to be anti-inflammatory by preventing formation of prostaglandins, and may be useful in the treatment of migraines.

Obertreis et al, Arzneim Forsch 1996a 46 found nettle leaf more effective at inhibiting arachidonic acid metabolism than isolated caffeic malic acid.

The extract inhibited cyclooxygenase (COX) better, while caffeic malic acid’s effect on 5-lipoxygenase was more pronounced.

Another study by Obertreis, in same journal, found nettle leaf extracts decrease tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1beta production by human white blood cells, whereas malic, caffeic and chlorogenic acid isolated from nettle, created no response.

The leaf tea is a useful diuretic in treating edema from myocardial or chronic venous insufficiency (Bradley 1992) as well as cystitis. In an open, uncontrolled study of 32 patients with the above conditions, 15 ml of fresh nettle juice three times daily for two weeks, significantly increased urine volume.

Szentmihalyi et al, Phytother Res 1998 12 found that dried nettle has a potassium ion to sodium ion ratio of 63:1 whereas a decoction is 448:1 in favour of potassium.

In tincture form, the leaves are used in Russia for treating gallbladder inflammation and hepatitis, and in France for mild cases of acne.

Nettle leaf tea is drunk cool as a diuretic and is considered a specific in childhood eczema, especially if nervous in origin. It increases sex drive in men and women, especially combined with green flowering oats and sea buckthorn.

The fresh juice stimulates kidney activity, and is a valuable alterative or blood cleanser. In human clinical trials, the fresh juice produced marked diuretic activity in patients with myocardial and chronic venous insufficiency, and showed hemostatic activity. When nettle leaf is used to bring down blood pressure, the passage of sand and gravel in urine may be considered a good sign.

Nettle can be used to reduce chronic swelling after a traumatic injury.

This may be due, in large part, to the existence of platelet activating factor (PAF) in nettles as shown by Antonopoulou et al in 1996.

Alcohol extracts of leaves exhibit anti-thrombin activity. Goun et al, J Ethnopharm 2002 81 337-42.

Water extracts of nettle produce a vasoconstriction of the aorta due to activation of alpha 1-adrengenic receptors; but also induce a strong bradycardia through non-cholinergic and non-adrenergic pathways.

This may explain, in part, the hypotensive action of nettle leaf. Legssyer et al, Phytother Res 2002 16:6.

Fresh nettle juice, one tsp every hour, will stop intestinal bleeding. Childhood diarrhea responds to nettle capsules, one 200 mg cap two to three times daily.

Nettle is frequently used for lowering blood sugar levels and helping control diabetes. Two recent studies suggest this may be counterproductive to both rabbits and mice, as nettles aggravated their chemically induced diabetic condition. Do not feed to your diabetic pets!

Bnouham et al, Int J Diab Metab 2002:10; Fitoterapia 2003 74:7-8 suggests hypoglycemic activity of leaf extracts is due to reduction in intestinal glucose absorption. Ideal results were found by ingestion of leaf tea one half hour before meals.

Combine one part nettle leaf tincture with two parts blueberry leaf and take thirty minutes before meals. Labrador tea and both black and white spruce needles are also helpful for issues of blood sugar regulation. Farzami et al, J Ethnopharm 2003:89 have identified an active fraction that enhances insulin secretion from the islets of Langerhans.

Another diabetic rat study noted nettle leaf water and alcohol extracts protect pancreatic islets in both size and number. Qiieq D et al, Int J Mol Cell Med 2013 2(1):21-6.

A randomized DB, PC clinical trial of 92 people, found one 500 mg capsule, three times daily for three months, combined with oral anti-hyperglycemic drugs, lowered blood levels of fasting glucose, two hour postprandial glucose and significant reduction of HbA1c levels compared to placebo group. Kianbakht et al, Clin Lab 2013 59:9-10.

Research at the University of Toronto found the UD-1 fraction of stinging nettle significantly enhanced glucose uptake in myoblast cells after 24 hours. Domola et al, Phytother Res 2009 Dec 9.

Rau et al, Pharmazie 2006 61:11 found the herb most active on the human peroxisome proliferator activated receptor, suggestive of anti-diabetic and anti-lipidemic activity.

Water extracts restore lipemic normalcy and reduce cardiovascular risk. Alisi et al, Afr J Biochem Res 2:4. Golalipour et al, Pak J Biol Sci 2007 10:8 found the leaf extract exhibits hyopoglycemic activity and protects beta cells of Langerhans islets.

Namazi, in same journal 2012 15:2 found nettle leaf tincture increased antioxidant and SOD blood levels in type 2 diabetic humans. Rat studies have found the herb to reduce cholesterol levels, improve LDL/ HDL ratios, etc, but whether this translates to humans is unknown.

More recent studies confirm that freeze-dried nettle contains large quantities of histamine, and formic acid that show great promise in treating allergic rhinitis.

It binds up IgG, immunoglobulin G, but only in the fresh or freeze- dried form. Mittman, Planta Medica 1990 56. When white blood cells were taken from healthy humans, nettle extracts prevented the cells from making and releasing inflammatory substances such as tumour necrosis factor.

Recent work by Bill Roscheck, Jr et al, Phytother Res 2009 23:7 found the extract of benefit for allergic rhinitis due to inhibition of COX 1 and 2, inhibition of mast cell tryptase and various other key receptors and enzymes including agonism and antagonism against histamine 1 receptor. Hematopoietic Prostaglandin D2 synthase inhibition, which blocks this primary pro-inflammatory mediator was also noted.

Nettle hairs contain small amounts of histamine and leukotrienes. Contrary to popular belief they do not contain formic acid. A chemical cocktail of histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin, as well as other compounds, account for stinging sensation.

The urticating fluid of U. urens contains high levels of leukotriene B4 and C4.

In mast cells and mammal cells, leukotrienes are generated in response to stimuli, whereas nettle leukotrienes appear preformed.

Release of high levels of leukotriene C occurs in aspirin-induced urticaria.

This leukotriene is a key mediator in allergy, inflammation and shock and common in intermediate type allergic reactions. With histamine, it shares an action as broncho-constrictor. Ironically, histamine is a vasodilator.

In animal models of arthritis, high levels of leukotriene B are found in the synovial tissue, lining of joints.

Nettles inhibit enzymes in body that liberate leukotrienes.

Nettle root may be a better choice, when the freeze-dried or fresh leaf is unavailable.

Research by Johnson TA et al, Phytomed 2013 20 143-7 suggests the lipophilic extracts are most potent anti-inflammatory activity, and may be superior to traditional tinctures from all parts of the plant including root, leaf, stem and flower. The reference to cytotoxic effects from water and alcohol extracts is to be taken with a grain of salt, as it was based on in vitro macrophage immune cells.

Of note is that the fat soluble constituents showed greater anti-inflammatory activity than celastrol.

Lectins stimulate white blood cells and may be helpful in boosting immune response. Basaran et al, Phytotherapy Research 1997 11:8 suggests that Nettle seed and leaf extracts are useful in patients suffering from neutrophil function deficiency.

On going studies are geared towards the plants depressive effect on the central nervous system, and ability to inhibit adrenaline effects. Nettle inhibits the aromatase enzyme, which may be responsible for its relaxing and sedative action; as well as benefit in hormone sensitive cancers.

Dr. Weiss suggests that nettles make a good diuretic substitute for thiazide, without the side effects.

Nettle leaf, in studies by Galleli et al, 1998, contains a lectin, UDA, which stimulates the production of gelatinase B, a protein-dissolving enzyme. It is unusual and different from other plant lectins because it can discriminate a particular population of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. UDA is present in nettle root.

UDA has been found to prevent the progression of experimentally induced systemic lupus erythematosus-like pathology in mice.

When low levels of UDA are present, they reduce inflammation and reduce sticky protein in blood. In high levels, they cause shock. Fibrin deposits on veins block availability of oxygen and nutrients, leading to venous ulceration.

Nettle helps all protein pathways in the body, according to Matthew Wood.

“It is one of the plants highest in protein and helps all protein pathways in the body—digestion, immune response, liver metabolism, skin reactions and kidney elimination.”

He has found nettles good for weakness in the muscles of the inner thighs in middle-aged women. “In some menopausal women, especially stout, heavy ones, the pelvic attachment loosens up, the pelvis expands, and these muscles get weak.”

Combine a tincture of seeds and root to help relieve childbirth pain in ratio of 1:2.

Further research into the subtle action of stinging nettle, may help refine herbal approaches to immune system disease.

Arthritis studies conducted by Ramm and Hansen in 1996 showed that consumption of dried nettle leaf resulted in a 50% reduction in dosage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), with no loss of efficacy. An open, randomized study by Chrubasik et el, the following year, showed a similar impressive result. A combination of 50 grams of nettle leaf with one quarter the regular dose of diclofenac was just as effective as the drug alone, in reducing rheumatic pain.

A follow-up study by Chrubasik and Eisenberg in 1999 with 8955 rheumatic patients found 60% of patients who took NSAIDs prior to treatment with 0.77 grams of stinging nettle extract twice daily, could reduce or eliminate their drugs.

Schulze-Tanzil et al, Histol Histopathol 2002 17 found 13-hydroxy- octadecantrienic acid, from nettle leaf, suppresses the expression of matrix metallo-proteinases, related to inflammatory joint diseases.

Inhibition of NFkappaB by nettle appears to be involved in reducing inflammatory response.

Nettle leaf, if picked before bud stage, can be used to alleviate gouty arthritis, taken as a cooled infusion.

Turber et al, Nat Prod Res 2008 22:2 found activity against Streptococcus pyrogenes, Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermis.

Lupus, an auto-immune, arthritic condition is not cured by nettle, but it can help relieve the symptoms. Musette et al, European Journal of Immunology August 1996 suggest U. dioica agglutinin lectin inhibits the development of systemic lupus erythematosus-like pathology.

Agglutinin also exhibits anti-fungal activity.

Three flavonoid glycosides isolated from stinging nettle aerial parts exhibit immune modulating activity. The authors suggest these flavonoids could be useful in treating patients suffering neutrophil function deficiency and chronic granulomatous diseases. Akbay et al, Phytother Res 2003 17:1.

The whole plant inhibits tumor necrosis factor TNF, while isolated polysaccharides promote it. The polysaccharides and caffeic malic acid stimulate T lymphocyte and complement activation.

Konrad et al, Int J Colorectal Dis 2005:20 found a stinging nettle extract effective in decreasing the Th1 response and a new approach to treating inflammatory bowel disease and colitis.

Nettle leaf may moderate the phase 1 enzyme system of the liver, helping to begin detoxification without aggravating toxin formation awaiting phase 2. Ozen et al, Acta Pol Pharm 2009 66:3.

A randomized controlled double blind crossover study was conducted in the UK by Randall et al, comparing Stinging Nettle and White Dead Nettle for base of thumb osteoarthritis pain. Twenty-seven patients applied the stinging nettle daily and after only one week, the reduction of pain was significantly greater than placebo.

Nettle leaf inhibits elastase, which degrades elastin, cartilage, collagen and fibronectin in the body. During osteoarthritis, the activity of elastase can become elevated and cause significant destruction of joints, as well as skin and lungs.

Biological screening tests have shown U. dioica to be anti-viral (Ranikhet disease virus); while U. urens has anti-tumour activity against lymphocytic leukemia in vitro.

Studies by Gulcin et al, J Ethnopharm 2004 90:2 found water extracts exhibit anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-ulcer and analgesic properties.

The anti-oxidant activity compares favourably with BHA and BHT. Further studies by Balzarini at the Rega Institute for Medical Research

in Belgium have shown a specific lectin from U. dioica inhibitory to the HIV-1, HIV-2, CMV, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza A viruses. This N-acetyl-glucosamine specific lectin is garnering considerable interest.

Nettle extracts show activity against both gram positive and negative bacteria, but more so the former. Modarresi-Chahardehi et al, Rev Biol Trop 2012 60:4.

Stinging nettle is a rich source of boron, a trace mineral very useful in retaining and producing small amounts of native estradiol. This has important implications in osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, where estrogen plays a role in mood elevation. At the same time, nettle tea can be used in cases of hypercalcaemia, where higher concentrations of calcium than normal are found in the blood. This may be related to parathyroid problems, or malignancy associated with bone metastases. In some cases, the presence of excessive vitamin D from dried milk powder can cause problems in young children.

In rare cases, nettle may stimulate menses in post-menopausal women. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, nettles reduce the heat of infection, heat-based respiratory afflictions like asthma, and anti-inflammatory conditions like tonsillitis, bleeding from various organs, and the building up of protective disease resistance.

Keep in mind that stinging nettle leaf reduces the body’s production of interleukin-6, which regulates the immune system; and should be avoided by those coming down with or in the early stages of influenza. Cold nettle leaf tea alleviates the itch associated with Hodgkin’s disease.

It does, however, stimulate proliferation of T lymphocytes. Harput et al, Phytother Res 19:4.

A small trial in New Zealand, reported by Isla Burgess in AHG Symposium Proceedings, 2001, found a ten week course of nettle leaf resulted in 80% increased energy, 50% increased libido, and 60% improvement in hair and nails. Blood tests reveal a significant increase in B12 that could be related to several possibilities that need further exploration.

Intrinsic factor effect in stomach, or effect on absorption, encouragement of B12 producing bacteria in gut, or analogues similar to those found in spirulina. Red cell folate levels increased significantly as well as iron binding capacity.

Many years ago, a good friend Bill Watson and I travelled throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan doing iridology readings, herbal advise and generally partying from one back to the land community, to another.

We travelled with a hand wheat grass juicer in the trunk of my 1986 baby blue Volvo 240. One morning we came upon a growth of six-inch tall stinging nettle. Out came the juicer and within ten minutes we each drank about four ounces of fresh green elixir.

We resumed our trip and about twenty minutes later we looked at each other and smiled. We were on a nettle high that lasted the rest of the day. We did not feel like eating but just hydrated with water and had unbelievable energy.

El Haouari et al, Phyto Res 20:6 identified anti-platelet activity.

Clinical trials in Germany have shown positive results in using nettle to treat racehorses with coughs and nasal mucous.

Leaf, root and seed extract all show activity against bacterial food- borne pathogens. Korpe et al, Int J Food Sci Nutr 2013 64:3 355-62.

The seeds were often fed to weakened horses, to get them ready for resale.

Nettle seed tea strengthens the lungs, even in tuberculosis; and treats goitre, an enlargement of the thyroid gland. The seeds are an excellent lung astringent, especially useful after bronchitis, to help return tone and capillary strength to the bronchial mucosa, according to Michael Moore.

The seeds contain substances that rid the body of parasites and worms, and are usually ground up and put in capsules for this purpose.

Dr. Bastyr said that nettle seeds produce a lethargic sleep.

The seed tea treats coughs and shortness of breath; and is a kidney tropho-restorative.

David Winston, a distinguished medical herbalist and fellow American Herbalist Guild member, combines nettle and mullein seed “for people with severely diminished kidney function, glomerulo-nephritis and other degenerative kidney disorders”.

Alan Tillotson, RH (AHG) relates a case in which he was able to stabilize glomerulo-nephritis with nettle seed, with marked and improved creatinine levels.

 

NETTLE SEEDS

Two case studies by Jonathan Treasure, reported in J of the Am Herbalists Guild, utilized serum creatinine levels to measure renal changes. In one 24 year- old female with lupus leading to kidney transplant and graft rejection, later reversed, nettle seed and couch grass tincture lowered serum creatinine levels. It would appear that nettle seed is indeed a renal trophorestorative.

The high cost of dialysis should be encouragement enough to conduct a small clinical trial for confirmation.

Michael Moore, AHG, considers nettle seed an “excellent lung astringent particularly useful after bronchitis, to return tone and capillary strength to the bronchial mucosa”.

Herbal Ed Smith, owner of HerbPharm, finds the green seed and calyx tasty and nourishing for those with hypothyroid conditions.

The seeds contain lignans, like flax, that may play a role in suppressing or binding hormone receptors.

Small Nettle seeds inhibit chemical induced toxicity in liver, lung and kidney tissue by 79%, 42% and 50% respectively. Ozkarsli et al, Xenobiotica 2008 38:1.

In Germany, various Nettle seed alcoholic tonics, such as Brennesselsamen and Vital-Tonikum™ Grandel, are available as a tonic and rejuvenator.

Stinging Nettle root extracts were studied by French researchers on 67 men with varying degrees of prostate enlargement, and showed positive night time urination control in about two thirds of individuals. At least 30 clinical trials have conducted on the root for both BPH and prostatitis, ranging in size from only 20 to 5492 participants.

For stage one to stage three BPH, the root has shown reduced nighttime urination, improved flow, decreased urine in bladder after voiding, and decreased prostate size.

In the largest study mentioned above, 1200 mg of nettle root daily for three months found significant relief of BPH symptoms in 61-93% of patients. Tosch et al, Euromed 1983 6.

Other large studies by Stahl et al, Z Allgemeinmed 1984 60, involving over 4000 patients, and Friesen et al, involving 4480 patients, reported improvement in certain efficacy parameters after treatment with nettle root.

German studies indicate that nettle root has anti-inflammatory effect on benign prostatic hyperplasia. The effect is believed due to certain constituents that inhibit-APT activity of the prostate, probably the steroid stigmast-4en-3-one, thus suppressing prostate cell metabolism and growth. A recent study by Riehemann et al, University of Tubingen, suggests part of nettles anti-inflammatory effect may be due to its inhibition of NF-kappa B activation. Another thought is that the active, still-known substance, if the only one, interferes with testosterone metabolism by lowering capacity of sexual hormone binding globulin, associated with a rise in free androgen.

Nettle root is therefore indicated in cases of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) as well as low testosterone levels.

Other tests searching for human sex hormone binding globulin found nettle root extract reduced the binding activity. It is believed that aromatase, an enzyme, controls the change of androgens to estrogens that are associated with promoting prostate enlargement. Or more accurately, when aromatase is inhibited, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) does not bind to receptor sites.

The substance HOA in nettle inhibits aromatase in the prostate. Nettle root protects androgens in the body from being de-activated or metabolized.

Lignans bind to SHBG and prevent estradiol from attaching to the cell membrane. The link between these two directs insulin-like growth factor to stimulate growth of prostate cells, and cause enlargement.

One compound in particular, 3,4-divanillytetrahydrofuran binds SHBG very well.

Belaiche and Lievoux, Phytotherapy Research 1991 5 found that combining U. dioca and U. urens root tinctures was effective in prostatic adenoma. At only 5 ml three times daily, the tincture helped most men who had fewer than four visits to the washroom nightly, all within a three-week period of time.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized cross-over six month study of 620 men found an 81% improvement in prostate health. Safarinejad et al, J Herb Pharm 2006 5:4.

In vitro studies suggest nettle root stops the proliferation of human prostate cancer cells. It is specifically active against prostate cancer cells and strongly inhibits growth, especially of epithelial cells, most responsible for prostate cancers.

Nettle root inhibits lymph node carcinoma of the prostate, and inhibits binding of SHBG.

A 10% hydro-alcoholic extract of the root reduced the binding capacity of SHBG for 5alpha-dihydro-testosterone by 67% in vitro.

It combines well with rye pollen, that inhibits abnormal epithelial cell growth, and milk thistle seed that interferes with cellular signaling in prostate tissue, and inhibits prostate cancer activity.

A study conducted at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York in 1995 found nettle root extracts inhibit the binding of androgen or testosterone- related protein to its receptor site on the prostate cell membranes. The inhibition of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase from testosterone can both help prevent and treat prostate enlargement and cancer when utilized with other specific herbs.

Researchers have found that nettle root reduces the activity of smooth muscle cells in the prostate, causing shrinkage in muscle and glandular tissue, as well as increased epithelial secretions.

A relatively rare monepoxylignan, including neo-olivil and derivatives, is a new avenue of research. Urtica dioica agglutinin mixture stimulates lymphocyte proliferation, causing immune-induced cytotoxic activity and inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis, but it is not confirmed for activity in BPH. It is unusually stable to acid and heat.

UDA, the unique agglutinin, in stinging nettle root, is unique in its structure and ability to induce a specific pattern of T-lymphocyte activity. It shares characteristics with bacterial super antigens, but is not pathogenic. This small plant lectin, the smallest known with a molecular weight of 8.5 kDa, is a complex mixture of at least six iso- lectins with similar but not identical properties.

UDA blocks epidermal growth factor binding to its receptor in the prostate.

UDA induces cytokine production by a subset of T-lymphocytes and increases certain CD8+ and CD4+ cells while decreasing others.

The lignan, 3,4 di-vanillytetrahydrofuran is the latest compound to garner interest, showing sex hormone-binding globulin in vitro.

Many of the lignans from nettle roots are acted upon and transform into enterodiol and enterolactone, which also bind sex hormones, in a manner similar to flax and lignans from Spruce.

It is interesting to note that mice prone to lupus do not exhibit symptoms while fed UDA.

There are undoubtedly various factors involved in nettle root and prostate health. Work by Hryb et al, Planta Med 1995, 61:1 identified lignans that block binding of sex hormones to testosterone or their receptors, and in this study UDA and stigmasta-4-en-3-one were both ineffective.

The lectin is anti-viral with effect on type 1 and 2 HIV,

cytomegalovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza A virus.

Another compound, secoisolariciresinol, is the third most powerful sex hormone binding globulin, or SHBG substance found in nature.

Although much attention has focused on prostate health, it is worth noting that hormone sensitive tissue in women, such as breast, cervix and ovarian cells may benefit from nettle root supplementation, in a prophylactic manner.

Nettle root has been used traditionally in Morocco for hypertension. Testai et al, J of Ethnopharm 2002 81:1 found the root has a vaso- relaxing effect mediated by the release of endothelial nitric oxide, and opening of potassium channels. It appears to have negative inotropic action.

Nettle root is used by David Winston for mild menorrhagia, or in- between period bleeding. The root has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation.

Ethanol extracts of the root inhibit activity of human leukocyte elastase and reduce the amount of enzyme released by activated polymorphonuclear granulo-cytes during inflammatory response. The activity of polysaccharides is comparable to indomethacin.

Lymphocyte proliferation, in vitro, was increased by 100% with a 40% alcohol extract of the root.

Herbalist Donald Yance, Jr uses root and seed tinctures for prostate cancer.

Recent work out of Germany, suggests nettle root has potent decongestant effect, suitable for long-term therapy.

Nettles contain a variety of constituents. Studies by Wagner et al, Phytomedicine 1995 2 have found whole plant extracts more efficient than any single isolated compound.

Small Nettle leaf shows some effect against Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It contains patuletin that exhibits powerful anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The seed has been found to inhibit or induce metabolism of certain drugs, including reduced erythromycin in liver but increased in lung and kidney. More information see Aqus et al, Phytother Res 2009 23:12.

The tincture gives immediate relief and rapid healing to burns when applied externally.

Hemp nettle is a valuable medicinal plant. It has, of course, diuretic properties, and is of value in cases of swollen or inflamed spleen. It has an affinity for the lungs in chronic bronchitis, silicosis and tuberculosis.

Hemp nettle (G. segetum or G. ochroleuca) contains up to 0.8% silica, of which 0.03% is soluble in boiling water.

Thus, it played a role, along with horsetail, and knotgrass in older tuberculosis formulas.

Kolbert’s Lung Tea, for the post-infective stage was 2 parts hemp nettle, three parts horsetail, and six parts knotgrass. Take five teaspoons of the dried tea mixture to six cups water, boiled down to three. Drink one cup three times daily for several months.

The silica rich herb is useful in lymphatic conditions, including swollen glands, and is safely tolerated by young children. It helps supply valuable minerals needed for healthy hair, bones and teeth, and after boiled down to one half may be combined with fruit juice in equal parts.

Rademacher indicated the plant is for treating the spleen.

Studies from Russia on the closely-related Galeopsis ladanum indicate water extractions show sedative and decreased locomotor activity in caffeine-stimulated laboratory mice by 27-76%. This may be important to those people who find their pet mice do not handle coffee well.

On a more serious note, the same plant contains hypolaetin-4’-methyl ether-7-(2”-allosyl)-glucoside monoacetylated. This compound is neuro-protective, as it inhibits acetylcholineesterase and may be useful in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Uriarte-Pueyo et al, Food Chem 120:3. Our own hemp nettle should be studied for this compound.

 

 

HOMEOPATHY

Urtica urens is the remedy for either diminished breast milk, or over plentiful supply where the mother does not want to express; by making the supply geared to demand.

It can give relief to bedwetting and skin itching, especially in children. It is also a useful antidote to have on hand for those suffering from ill effects of eating shellfish, or strawberries.

The skin may be itchy in adults, with patches of nerve pain. It is of benefit in uric acid and gouty dispositions, where the arthritic afflictions of the wrists, and ankles are noted. The famous Dr.

Compton used it so often for gout he was nicknamed Dr. Urtica.

It also relieves skin problems with burning, stinging and welts, as well

as first and second degree burns.

All the above symptoms may be aggravated by snow, water, and cool, moist air; and may appear at the same time each year.

Males who can benefit may find that itching or swelling of the scrotum keep them awake at night. Some others may experience headaches, vertigo and accompanied pain in the spleen.

DOSE- Tincture and low potency. The mother tincture is prepared from the whole fresh plant in flower. Self experiment by Coxe and Shaw with 1x dilution in 1860s; self experiment by Duff with tincture in 1903. Clinical observations by Hering, Boger and Kent.

 

******Stinging Nettle seed head

 

OILS

SEED OIL

A sun infused oil made from the fresh nettle seed heads only is gently warmed and applied to the scalp as a hair tonic to restore circulation and encourage new hair growth.

In Thornton’s 19th century Family Herbal, he suggests that nettle seeds “produce a fine oil, and taken inwardly in moderate quantity excite the system, especially les plaisirs de l’amour, and are very forcing”.

The use of nettle seed oil as an aphrodisiac goes back to the 16th century.

Oil from the stinging nettle seed yields 23-38% and contains 12% oleic acid, 73.7% linoleic acid and around 7% saturated acids; as well as 4.5% glycerol, and 0.1-0,2% tocopherols. It has an iodine value

of 151, with drying properties between poppy and hempseed oil. It has a yellow green colour due to the presence of various carotenoids including beta-carotene, lutein, violaxanthin, and chlorophyll.

Stinging nettle leaves also yield small amounts of fats with an iodine value of 103, and saponification of 207. The yield of saturated fats is small, with the principal being oleic acid with only a trace of linolenic.

Aldiyarova et al 2004 found Nettle leaf oil exhibits anti-inflammatory activity similar to indomethacin, in rat trials.

Hildegard de Bingen suggested a mash of nettle leaf and olive oil be rubbed into the chest and temples before going to sleep. This is indicated for people with poor memory as “the burning heat of the stinging nettle, and the heat of the olive oil stimulate the contracted vessels of the chest and the temple which are somewhat asleep during waking consciousness”.

Hemp nettle seed yields 20-50% of a similar fatty acid composition; but with some unusual fatty acids as well. These include 9 and 10-oxo- octadecanoic; 12-oxo-octadic-9-enoic; 9-oxo-octadec-10-enoic, and various epoxy enoic, dienoic and tirenoic acids. Various epoxyacyl- and hydroxyacylglycerols are present. Squalene has also been isolated. In all, 14 classes of fatty acids have been detected in hemp nettle seed oil.

The seed and oil is toxic to ruminants, the poisonous components stable to heat and accumulate in fatty tissue.

Specific gravity is 0.9228, iodine number is 157.34, acid no. 2.0, and saponification number is 190.

 

ESSENTIAL OILS

Stinging Nettle can be steam distilled and yields unusual oil with 38.5% ketones, 14.7% esters, 2% free alcohols, and traces of phenols and aldehydes.

Hemp nettle has been steam distilled into an essential oil by Strzelecka et al in 1975. I have been too busy to search for details.

 

 

HYDROSOL

CONSTITUENTS- U. dioica- dimethyl sulphide 71.5%, camphor 7.5%, eucalyptol 3.7% and mino amounts of cis thujone, endo borneol, ethanthiol, and various pentanones.

Viaud suggests nettle hydrolat for gall bladder as well as care of the hair and skin.

The distilled water of nettle leaves is also good for lumbago, for promoting expectoration, and for purifying wounds.    SAUER

Distil Nettles when they are in flower, the water helps coughs and pain in the bowels, provokes urine, and breaks the stone. 

   CULPEPPER

Nettle root water is produced at the end of the summer. It is used for old coughs, lung abscess, nasal growths and nosebleeds, podagra and indolent wounds. It cleanses the womb of women and removes dead fetus, or provokes menses. It is soothing to the tongue and breast.

Nettle seed water is made in August and applied to hands makes them white by daily application and letting them dry. 

   BRUNSCHWIG

Nettle leaf and flower water is for gout in the gut, shrinking in belly, cold lungs, painful uterus when it pulls up, disease of the kidneys from cold, cold coughs, and worms in the belly. It is also good for relieving the itch of piles.    BRUNSCHWIG

Suzanne Catty makes reference to Nettle hydrosol in her book. It is probably worth exploring its potential, considering its use hundreds of years ago, and ease of production.

Nettle water has been found to inhibit growth of fungi Ceriporiopsis subvermisphora.

So what does Nettle hydrosol do that can’t be done with Nettle tea or Nettle tincture? I have found that Nettle hydrosol is very useful when considering Nettle’s anti-stress or adaptogen-like properties; it earths and helps the person pace him or herself. Like the story of the hare and the snail where the snail won the race as he knew how to steadily carry on at a pace that suited, Nettle hydrosol brings this type of resonance. As a hair treatment, it fortifies and brings shine to dull hair. Used on the skin, it tones and helps regulate sebum; thus being an excellent allay for acne and related skin problems.    

CATHERINE SKIPPER

Hemp Nettle flower hydrosol was used traditionally in England to make the heart merry, the face rosy, and the vital spirits fresh and lively.

 

 

FLOWER ESSENCES

Stinging nettle flower essence is for emotional stress associated with a broken home. It works well for adopted children, their parents, and the divorced. Sibling rivalry in the family unit is also eased. The flowers are male and female, with only one sex on a plant. A combination of the two is most potent. It is also an important cleanser for animals, and they will seek it out in the wild.

It is a useful flower essence for aching limbs or feet of animals. If they have been injured or lost excessive blood, this essence will help. It also helps reduce the stress of vegetative transplants.    GURUDAS

Stinging nettle (U. gracilis) flower essence helps those who are highly sensitive stay connected to the earth and to their feelings; helps one get grounded and reconnected after being overwhelmed by too much input; enables one to absorb and process energetic information and input in alignment with one’s capacity to integrate it; for those who have been hurt deeply in the past it helps heal the alienation that comes out of the fear of being hurt again.    ALASKA

Stinging nettle increases self-reliance and teaches the value of strong family life. It is a good remedy for the young who believe they know enough about life, without having faced some of the hardships. It is the flower essence for those who repeat mistakes and learn the hard way.      MOUNT JULIUS

Stinging Nettle helps ease pain in the present that is intensified or skewed from untreated early childhood pain. Psychotherapists call this “carried feeling reality” since what is felt in the present is really something from the past that has been triggered into surfacing.     DALTON

Hemp nettle (G. tetrahit) flower essence balances the conflicting needs for security and independence. It is an emotional sedative that helps increase one’s insight and imagination. It helps promote understanding between the sexes, and moderates chronic indecision in the same manner as scleranthus (knawel). Insecure people will benefit.       MOUNT JULIUS

Stinging Nettle flower essence supports coming out of the fog of living, in a way that can’t support our true being. It aids in making clear choices especially about leaving toxic situations.     TREE FROG

 

 

PERSONALITY TRAITS

The nettle personality tends to low blood pressure, with pale skin and overactive spleen. They tend to look half asleep, with drooping eyelids and slow movements. They sigh a lot, and are always tired.

In the negative state, the nettle person is told to rest, when in fact, their blood pressure is too low.

This causes lack of oxygen to the brain, resulting in frequent memory lapses, fainting and the like. Low blood pressure, long praised by orthodox doctors on this continent, can result in physical apathy and mental dullness.

Males may find this affects their ability to produce and maintain an erection. In many cases, they are individuals that have been pr escribed pharmaceutical diuretics for high blood pressure. Low blood pressure can find otherwise healthy people gasping for oxygen in the early morning hours. Those who die in their sleep in the early hours, often have such reduced blood pressure that they do not have enough blood to keep the heart active.

On the positive side, a cup of nettle tea or tincture, will oxygenate the blood; increase colour to the cheeks, and improve memory and concentration.

Low blood pressure is not a problem, as long as they exercise. These people can go all day; feeling perhaps more fit at the end of a day’s work than when they started out.    DOROTHY HALL

The nettle can be likened unto a bully who, when he is treated gently and with care, turns on you, and stings and hurts you with all his might, but when treated firmly, shrinks, retires and gives in. A cowardly bully of the modern kind does not understand gentleness and appeasement; he only respects the language of machine guns and bombs. And again the nettle can be likened unto a dowdy, inconspicuous old woman, who at the merest approach and slightest touch sting and hurts you will her caustic tongue, but on closer acquaintance and on pinning her down firmly, you find a heart of gold behind the…frightening exterior.    DOROTHY SHEPHERD

Nettle is a remedy that get the job done…I often visualize the Nettle spirit as an older lady with a broom or a switch exhorting people to get going, get a move on, don’t just sit around, do something. In fact, Nettle is used to treat inactivity, as in impotence, but more generally for any organ.    MATTHEW WOOD

The botanical features correspond clearly with the nature exhibited by the remedies of Urticaceae. Formidable, restlessly dynamic, quick- witted and ardently resolute, they are driven forward with firmness and courage, grasping whatever task is at hand to be done, irrespective of whether it is a pleasant one or not. They are enthusiastically itching to do something and even rouse others to activity. They stare down the troublesome bullies of life and their mettle is inflamed in any fight.

The other side of relentless activity and resolute firmness is abject laziness born of fatigue. Sometimes movement simply causes too much pain. They shrink and retire from life, preferring to settle into a comfortable chair and sleep away the hours. It takes the engine of their restlessness to get their blood moving again to turn them back into incessantly active worker ants. Then they can grasp the nettle again, facing pain and opposition with burning resolution.    VERMEULEN

The ash of the downy hemp-nettle has a high silica content (18%). Like the siliceous Teucrium, Galeopsis is a good remedy for diseases of the lung due to weakness of the light metabolism in the organism;

it is one of the components of the “Silica Teas” so successful in the treatment of certain forms of phthisis. The warming properties are gentle, the plant is only weakly aromatic.    WILHELM PELIKAN

 

EMOTIONAL STATES

Nettle people are under the impression that they are a victim and remain traumatized by painful emotional experiences. They can become warm and ironic, and will not let themselves be easily tamed.       BORREL

Nettle has rousing, rejuvenating and resurrecting powers on the weakened individual…It brings qualities of courage and idealism, and strengthens will power. In a positive nettle state, the individual exhibits passion and enthusiasm, independence of thought and action, and the ability to seize the initiative. In a community, such people will demonstrate leadership abilities, stimulating and inspiring other with their enthusiasm.    GOODRICK-CLARKE

As an herb used to address constitutional issues, Nettle tea often fits individuals who gravitate to high fat/protein foods, who are sedentary, hypertensive and hyperglycemic. It is not a tea to reverse an acute situation, but one to buffer the metabolic excesses of a middle-aged mesomorph.        MICHAEL MOORE

 

 

SPIRITUAL PROPERTIES

Nettle is mostly leaf, breathing and binding water to air in its rhythmic, spiraling growth-transforming both into an abundance of chlorophyll and fiery iron. Its signature is that it cures what its causes- scalds, burns, sunburns and insect bites.    MURPHY

In calling upon the spirit of the plant, I saw not one, but two spirits hiding among the leaves. They are the fairies of this wondrous plant, and their arms were swinging in motion to the rhythm of their stinging tails that follow along behind them. One fairy is male, and the other is female. He is the bitter of the two. His feelings of being unwanted and unloved permeate from his being. He is angry at the world, refusing to believe in goodness and loving kindness. He sits upon the leaves and instills his scorn into the plant to make it unlovable like he.

The other fairy is the one who holds the light for the nettles plant. She is a gentle being, loving, compassionate and trusting of the world.

She will stay with nettles and imbue it with love as long as the other is there…She keeps her heart open towards the other fairy, constantly sending him unconditional love and acceptance. It is this balance of the two that gives the nettle plant its wondrous healing abilities.          AVERSANO

 

 

MYTHS AND LEGENDS

Masan was once golden with shimmering leaves and a bright aura. The human beings did not pay their respect to this plant medicine, taking it for granted, passing it by without offering tobacco. In time it turned green to blend in with the other plants growing stinging hairs to catch the human being by surprise and sting them.   

MANITOBA CREE ELDER (Courtesy of Kahlee Keane)

Christina the Astonishing fed on milk from her own miraculously swelling breasts, but the preferred nosh of saints worldwide is a weed so noxious that its touch burns. It is called Stinging Nettles and makes a nice soup. The 12thcentury Tibetan saint Milarepa lived on the nettle soup satuk for so long that his hair turned green. St. Columba of Ireland followed a similar regime until he developed a mysterious weight problem. When the saint confronted his cook with the situation, he discovered she’d been using a hollow spoon to surreptitiously add milk to his broth.    ALLEN

Stinging Nettles grow where soil is fertile. In one story, a blind man goes to a field he wishes to buy. Upon arrival, he asks the vendor if he can tie his donkey to the nearest clump of thistles. The vendor tells him there are no thistles. He then asks if he can tie him to the nearest bunch of nettles. The vendor tells him he can tie him wherever as the field is full of stinging nettles. “In that case”, says the blind man, “I will buy your field”.    GARDINER

Nettle stings are detailed throughout history and are even included in a children’s fairy tale, The Nettle Spinner”. A beautiful yarn spinner is forbidden by a jealous count to marry her fiancé until she spins her wedding gown out of nettles. Her faithfulness keeps the nettles from stinging her, and as the count dies due to his wickedness, the gown becomes his funeral shroud.    PHANEUF

Various groups of people move away from the winter village, because they cannot catch the spring salmon which are just off the coast waiting to migrate up the rivers.

A young woman and her elderly mother are left behind, and are starving; a handsome young man begins to come in the night and have intercourse with the daughter. He takes her to gather nettles and shows her how to prepare the fibre for nets, which they set to catch the spring salmon…They begin to catch a great deal of fish, and the girl becomes pregnant. When the child is born he is stretched by his father so that he grows extremely quickly. He is shown how to hunt, snare, and make nets to catch fish. Then the father, really a supernatural spider, returns to his father in the sky, his purpose accomplished.

LESLIE JOHNSON

One of Raven’s inventions was the making of nettle fibre nets, an art which he taught spiders as well as men. In the beginning of time, Raven told two men to make a net according to a pattern which he showed them, and gave them some fibre. It was not enough, and when they asked for more, Raven told them to draw it from their own intestines. This they did, and ever since spiders have had the same ability.

Another tale relates how Raven was visiting a distant village and saw how they made nettle fibre nets. In the same generous spirit he showed with whipped soapberries, Raven taught the Bella Coola people how to make nets.    

NUXALK MYTHS N TURNER 2005

In the olden times, says this tale, the people were starving, for although the salmon were plentiful in the rivers, the Indians had no means of obtaining them. Spider, seeing their pitiful condition, and wishing to help them, changed himself into a man and married one of their maidens.

He it was who directed them in gathering and preparing the nettles, and when the cord was completed he taught them in his own cunning way how to weave it into nets.    LESLIE HASKIN

 

 

 

ASTROLOGY

This is also an herb Mars claims dominion over. You know Mars is hot and dry, and you know as well that Winter is cold and moist; then you may know as well the reason why Nettle-tops eaten in the spring consume the phlegmatic superfluities in the body of man, that the coldness and moistness of winter hath left behind. The roots or leaves boiled, or the juice of either of them, or both made into an electuary with honey and sugar is safe and sure medicine to open the pipes and passages of the lungs, which is the cause of wheezing and shortness of breath, and helps to expectorate tough phlegm, as also to raise the imposthumed pleurisy.    CULPEPPER

The Mars qualities of nettle bring vitality and courage. Mars, the god of war, ruler of the blood, brings energy and assertive qualities to the physical being, strengthening all systems. Iron is the planetary metal of Mars and is essential to correct anemia and to help energize and purify the blood.

When the physical body is strengthened, the personality is more courageous, daring to act, daring to speak out against injustice, and putting words into action.    CLARE GOODRICK-CLARKE

 

 

BOTANICA POETICA

That very plant that you avoid When you touch it, rash and sting

Has got a heap of qualities

Of its praises, here I sing

Vitamins A, K and C Protein is its middle name

Take it for anemia

Lots of iron you will gain

It’s diuretic, it’s a tonic

Stops a hemorrhage indeed

Qualities that are astringent

Try it for your next nose bleed

Use the plant when it is young

Steam it, eat it, as your green

It’s a source of good nutrition

Make a hair wash of the tea

Stimulates the circulation It’s an herb that’s really great

If the prostate’s hyperplastic

Helps a fellow urinate

It’s a tonic for the body.

Treat allergies and asthma too

Go and get yourself some Nettles.

Be sure to have your gloves on you!

SYLVIA CHATROUX MD

 

RECIPES

INFUSION- Pour one cup of boiling water over one tablespoon of dried nettle flowers or seeds. Infuse for fifteen minutes and drink up to three times.

Like older horsetail, nettles accumulates calcium carbonate cystoliths and phytoliths. These are irritating to kidneys and although nettles are generally safe during pregnancy, avoid older plants as a precaution.

Harvest in May and June, as it comes into flower.

Hemp nettle requires a slow decoction to help release the valuable minerals, an exception to the rule.

TINCTURE- One to four mls three times daily of either root or leaf tincture. Both are made 1:5 at 45% alcohol. The fresh leaf tincture is prepared 1:4 at 60%.

The mother tincture of U. urens is made from the fresh plant in flower, chopped and pounded to a pulp and steeped in alcohol. Seed tincture is prepared at 1:5 and 30% alcohol.

FRESH JUICE- One tbsp three times daily. The juice may be frozen as ice cubes.

FREEZE DRIED CAPSULES- Two 300 mg capsules as needed. Do not take stinging nettle on an empty stomach, as the serotonin may cause mild stomach cramps.

HAIR RINSE- Take one teaspoon of seeds in a cup of hot water and

let sit thirty minutes. Use as a final rinse after shampooing hair.

COMBUDORON OINTMENT- An anthroposophic treatment for burns and scalds. It consists of 9.5% U. urens tincture (1:2) and 0.5% arnica tincture (1:2).

ROOT DECOCTION- Take 2-3 grams of dried root to one pint of water. Bring to a simmer for ten minutes. Cover and let steep for one hour. Drink one to two cups daily for prostate inflammation at body temperature.

CAUTION- the plant contains 5-hydroxytryptamine that is an isolated uterine stimulant, emmenagogue and abortifacient. Fresh plant extracts can induce uterine excitation, or contractions.

Some authors suggest the root should be used with caution with anti- hypertensives, diabetes, CNS depressive and diuretic medications.

When processing nettle leaves, wear a dust mask. The sharp silica on the leaf surface acts like broken glass in the respiratory system, and can cause permanent damage called silicosis.

NETTLE SOIL CONDITIONER- PREPARATION 504

Take stinging nettles and cover with fresh water. Let ferment for several weeks, until everything is nicely rotted and stinky. Take one part of mixture to ten parts of water as a fertilizer. When nettle is used the plants gain in nutritive value, by not losing nitrogen or decomposing in a negative way. The crops become truly nutritive.

Nettles regulate the iron economy of Mother Nature in the soil so the leaves can turn green; in humans this affects hemoglobin, the red colour of blood. Traditionally the nettle aerial parts were gathered in fall and buried in fall and left underground for whole year.

Commonly used is an unglazed earthenware pipe to contain in one place. The leaves are transformed into a black humus, that helps the process of composting.

PROPAGATION- The highest herbage yield is in the second year after planting; and at the beginning of flowering. The best nettle leaf for medicinal use, however, is from 12-16 inches tall, well before flowering. Yields of fresh nettle leaf are up to 20,000 kilograms per hectare. At an average of $9-27 per dried pound for organic leaf, the return can be significant.

Chlorophyll and carotenoid content is highest in 2nd year plants.

Seeds germinate in 1-2 weeks, and love rich, fertile soil with lots of organic matter and a pH of 6.0-7.5.

Work by Dr. Wahab in Saskatchewan, indicates spacing makes no difference to yield of leaves, but produced higher yields under irrigation than without.

Nettles will outcompete most weeds. You may get one harvest the first year, but in year two you can harvest several times a summer. The roots are harvested in the fall of the second year, but the highest rhizome yields are in 4th year. Iron is higher in roots than leaves; the opposite is true for manganese.

Dry root yields of third year roots average 15 tonnes per hectare under dry land conditions, and from 17-22 with irrigation.

Work by Dr. Barl in Saskatchewan found beta sitosterol levels of leaf averaging 0.076%, and total phytosterol content averaging 0.547%; and content of beta sitosterol and total phytosterols of 13.66% in dry nettle root. Fertilization had little or no effect, also good news for organic producers.

Nettle leaf dries in 3-5 days, while the roots, after washing, dry in about one week.

Nettle is a dioecious plant, and because it can be grown from cuttings, you can grow either sex.

Work by Weglarz et al, Acta Hort 2000 523 is significant as the male plant develops more leaves and a higher herb mass. More interesting is that the root mass is nearly double in the male, and coupled

with higher content of polyphenolic acids, would be the preferred commercial choice.

Remember that the older the leaves, the larger the accumulation of calcium oxalate crystals. The best nettle medicine is made from young leaves, well before going to seed.

 

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