Nettle is a valuable medicinal plant, which can help with urinary tract infections and rheumatic diseases, but also with hair loss and dandruff.
Annoying weed that leaves itchy pustules or underestimated medicinal plant? Definitely the latter! The nettle is a real bacterial brake and nutrient bomb. Read here what the valuable medicinal herb can do.
Long underestimated and dismissed as an annoying weed with aching leaves, stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has come back into focus as a natural remedy in recent years. Due to its ingredients, the medicinal plant is mainly used for urinary, kidney and joint problems, to stimulate the metabolism and to stimulate digestion. But the stinging nettle also cuts a fine figure as a culinary herb. This is how useful and effective the supposed weed really is.
The ingredients of the nettle plant
The healing effect of stinging nettle is related to the active substances contained in the plant, which are distributed among the leaves, stem and roots.
The nettle as a nutrient bomb
The leaves of the stinging nettle contain
organic acids as caffeoyl malic acid, essential oil, silicic acid, minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, as well as beta-carotene and the Vitamins B, C and K. Also noteworthy is the high content of vitamin C (more than with citrus fruits!) and protein. The protein content of stinging nettle is about seven percent, or 30 percent of its dry matter. 100 grams of fresh nettle leaves, for example, contain a similar amount of protein as the same amount of fresh legumes, so that it is worthwhile, especially for vegetarians and vegans, to integrate nettle leaves into their diet.
In addition, nettle leaves contain so-called secondary plant compounds (flavonoids) such as the plant pigment rutin. flavonoids have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, circulatory and antispasmodic effects and are used, among other things, as venous and cardiovascular remedies.
The Nettle roots (Urticae radix) in turn contain plant steroid hormones such as beta-sitosterol (a phytosterol), lectins and lignans. In higher doses, beta-sitosterol lowers blood cholesterol levels, which is why foods such as margarine and dairy products are enriched with it.
Stinging hairs cause the burning sensation
The stinging hairs on the upper side of stinging nettle leaves, which cause painful wheals on the skin when touched, contain acetylcholine, histamine, serotonin, formic acid and sodium formate (the salt of formic acid). These messenger substances are involved in numerous metabolic processes and explain the stimulating effect of nettle leaves, for example on bladder function. However, if the skin comes into contact with the stinging hairs, the painful reaction occurs only a few seconds later: the formic acid has a corrosive effect, the inflammatory messenger histamine triggers swelling and itching. The tie hormone serotonin activates the sensation of pain, while acetylcholine, another neurotransmitter also found in hornet venom, acts as a pain amplifier.
How do the ingredients of the stinging nettle?
The various effects of nettle can be summarized as follows:
Medical applications of stinging nettle
These positive effects of nettles are nowadays used for treatment or accompanying therapy of the following diseases and ailments:
Disorders of the urinary tract (urinary retention, residual urine formation)
inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract (z.B. cystitis, urinary tract infection)
Irritable bladder (functional disturbance of bladder function, d.h. frequent bladder emptying)
Kidney disease (z.B. kidney gravel, i.e. the accumulation of no kidney stones)
discomfort during urination or retention of water, for example as a result of benign prostatic hyperplasia
disorders and complaints of the gall bladder
liver disorders (nettle promotes the detoxification process)
Diabetes (increase in enzyme production by the pancreas and lowering of blood sugar levels)
gastrointestinal problems (cramps, digestive problems)
arthrosis and arthritis
The flavonoids contained in leaves, together with the mineral potassium, provide the draining and anti-inflammatory effect of the stinging nettle. In the form of teas or preparations, the medicinal plant helps in the treatment of inflammatory disorders of the urinary tract, for example, bladder infections or urinary tract infections. For this purpose, the nettle tea can also be enriched with similarly acting herbs such as birch leaves and goldenrod herb. Increased urination flushes the body and urinary tract and removes harmful "waste products" and pathogenic germs. That is why the nettle is also often used in fasting, detox and purification cures.
Thanks to its antispasmodic effect, nettle tea can also provide relief from stomach cramps. Drink several cups of freshly brewed nettle tea throughout the day. In addition, the tannins contained in it help with stomach problems and diarrhea.
DONNA Tip: Basically, it supports the success of the treatment if you drink a lot during a nettle cure. This promotes the rinsing effect.
The diuretic effect of nettle is also used to treat diseases such as biliousness and liver problems. Already Paracelsus prescribed the juice of the nettle as a medicine for jaundice (hepatitis). Nettle also has a supporting effect on gout, rheumatic complaints, arthrosis and also its acute form, rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is only scientifically proven that the nettle plant contains active substances that have an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect, which is helpful for rheumatism or gout. That the diseases can actually be cured by the use of stinging nettles is not yet known.
A so-called "nettle whip" does not only do good for rheumatism. It is also effective against lumbago (sciatica, intervertebral discs) and neuralgic pain. Take a few strands of fresh nettle. Strike lightly with it on the affected area. Alternatively, you can rub the leaves on the affected areas. The ingredients of the nettle increase blood circulation and relax the muscles.
Possibilities for taking nettle
In addition to nettle tea, the medicinal plant is also available as a tincture, essential oil or in the form of drops, mono- or combination preparations and pressed juices.
Preparation of a nettle tea about two teaspoons of nettle leaves are poured over 250 milliliters of boiling water. The infusion should infuse for about ten minutes. Two to four cups of the cooled tea are recommended per day. After a six-week application, a two- to three-week break should be taken.
Nettles in cosmetics: skin care from the inside and outside
In the field of natural cosmetics, nettle is often overlooked, but when it is taken as a tea or in capsule form, its beneficial effects become apparent. The stinging nettle's blood circulation-enhancing ingredients ensure that the upper layers of the skin are supplied with more blood and that the cells are supplied with more oxygen and nutrients. They can thus divide more easily and replace dead cells, so that the skin rejuvenates by itself.
Like most plants, stinging nettle has a number of protective antioxidants (free radical scavengers), which reduce free radical damage, additionally strengthen the skin's immune defenses, and thus provide anti-aging benefits. Due to its strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can also reduce redness (sunburn and minor burns) and skin blemishes, for example pimples and acne. For skin cleansing, extracts or the decoction of boiled nettles are suitable: Simply soak a cloth with strong nettle tea and place it on the face.
Nettle against hair loss
Although its hairs cause skin rashes, the nettle has a long tradition in hair care. Since time immemorial, the medicinal plant has been used to treat hair loss or reduced hair growth. The reason for this is the high concentration of vitamin A and iron, which are necessary, among other things, for mAreation and maintenance of the hair roots. If the scalp is well supplied with blood, the hair roots can be optimally supplied with nutrients and thus hair growth is supported. Externally, therefore, mainly diluted nettle tinctures or hair lotions are used, which are well massaged into the scalp. Taken as nettle tea, the medicinal herb promotes cell growth and ensures that they are supplied with nutrients, which in turn has a positive effect on strengthening the hair structure.
For a homemade Nettle hair tonic you need 200 to 300 grams of nettle roots. These are chopped, grated and then infused with a liter of water and a liter of wine vinegar and brought to a boil. Then pour through a sieve and let it cool down. To prevent hair loss, the decoction should be applied daily to the scalp. There is no need to wash out the hair again, as the extract does not leave any residue on the scalp.
The powder from crushed dried nettle leaves can also be used for daily hair care. Simply that Nettle powder mix with water and then massage into the scalp as a hair mask. Leave on for 30 minutes and wash out.
Remark: Nettle cannot completely prevent hair loss, but it at least alleviates the annoying problem.
Nettles against dandruff
Used externally, stinging nettle works a clever combination trick: the acids contained in the stinging hairs keep the scalp fungus at bay, which is involved in dandruff formation. They also promote blood circulation to the hair roots. Tannins curb the flow of sebum. Keep the horny scales of the hair at bay. This way they do not stick to the scalp, the hair does not grease as quickly. This makes stinging nettle an effective and natural alternative to conventional anti-dandruff shampoos that contain cell-damaging agents such as climbazole or triclosan.
For a homemade
Anti-dandruff remedy Boil 500 grams of fresh nettles in half a liter of water for 30 minutes, strain and allow to cool. Then massage the liquid evenly into the scalp. Repeat several times a week. Nettle cleanses the scalp and removes impurities, moisturizes and thus reduces dandruff.
DONNA Tip: Even people who do not suffer from hair loss can use the medicinal plant as a care product. The circulation-boosting ingredients strengthen the hair root and the anti-inflammatory, cleansing action brings the scalp into a natural balance. The silicic acid and various minerals contained remineralize the hair, giving it new shine and volume.
Side effects of nettles
As a rule, no side effects are expected when using the medicinal plant. If at all, they are limited to mild intolerance reactions such as gastrointestinal complaints or allergic skin reactions such as itching, skin rash or hives. If histamine intolerance is present, the use of nettle products should first be discussed with a doctor or pharmacist. Interactions of nettle preparations with other medications are not known.
Caution: Those who suffer from water retention in the body (edema) caused by impaired heart or kidney function should not use nettle either internally or externally.
In the kitchen: nettles as food
Nettle can be used in the kitchen in almost the same way as spinach or chard, but it has by far more health-promoting ingredients as well as a somewhat more tart and spicy taste. Thus, similar to parsley, nettle is excellent for enhancing salads or can replace basil in pesto. For this you need pine nuts or walnuts, high-quality oil, salt, lemons and chopped nettle leaves.
In addition, the nettle can be used in soups, as a vegetable garnish, instead of spinach or as a juice. A traditional recipe is
Nettle soup, which is easy to prepare and is said to help against springtime fatigue. In addition to nettle leaves, it consists of red onions, potatoes, broth, crème fraîche and butter. The leaves are first sauteed in butter with the onions. Subsequently added to the soup pot. In addition to salt and pepper, garlic, tarragon and parsley provide additional seasoning.
DONNA Tip: To avoid a bitter taste or too fibrous, use mainly young nettles or only the upper leaf shoots. By the way, the painful stinging hairs are rendered harmless by boiling, steaming or drying them. Pureeing in a blender also destroys the hairs, making it easy to prepare smoothies or juices.