The botanical name for the Nettle herb is Urtica dioica, and it belongs to the family Urticaceae. The genus name “Urtica” comes from the Latin word “urere” meaning “to burn,” which refers to the stinging sensation that can occur when the plant is touched. The species name “dioica” refers to the fact that the plant has separate male and female plants.
It is a perennial herb that can be found growing in damp, wooded areas and along riverbanks. It is easily recognizable by its green leaves and small greenish-white flowers.
Here are some key characteristics of nettle that can help with identification:
Leaves are typically green and are arranged opposite each other on the stem. They are triangular and have serrated edges. Stems are typically green and are covered with small, stiff hairs that contain venomous chemicals that can cause a stinging sensation when touched. Flowers are small, greenish-white, and arranged in clusters. They typically appear in the summer.
Root is a long taproot that is typically found growing deep in the soil.
It is important to note that other plants may resemble nettle, so it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable professional or use a field guide before harvesting or consuming any wild plants.
Also, it is important to be aware that Nettle leaves and stems may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction if touched, so it’s best to wear gloves when handling fresh nettle.
Regional Names in India
It is also popular with the English name “stinging nettle” and other local names are:
- Bichu Buti in Hindi
- Galga in Marathi
- Kanti in Bengali
- Neer Bhedi in Kannada
- Neer Murungai in Tamil
- Neer Bheda in Telugu and Gujarati
- Neer Bhed in Oriya
- Neer Bhedi in Malayalam and Punjabi
- Aan in Pahari
This is native to Asia, Europe, and North America. The leaves, stems, and roots of the nettle plant are all used medicinally.
Nettle has been traditionally used for a variety of conditions, including:
- Allergies: It is a natural antihistamine and can be used to help relieve symptoms of hay fever and other allergic reactions.
- Anemia: Nettle is high in iron and can help to increase the production of red blood cells.
- Arthritis: Nettle has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
- Hair Loss: It is high in silica and other minerals that are essential for healthy hair growth.
- Urinary tract infections: Nettle leaves have diuretic properties and can help to flush out toxins and bacteria from the urinary tract.
Nettle is available in various drug forms like capsules, tinctures, teas, and dried leaves and can be used as a supplement or added to food.
The chemical composition of nettle varies depending on the part of the plant used (leaves, root, stem) and the stage of maturity. Some of the main chemical compounds found in nettle include:
Flavonoids: It contains flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol, which have antioxidant properties.
Phenolic acids: Nettle holds phenolic acids such as chlorogenic acid, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lignans: It contains lignans such as pinoresinol, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Carotenoids: Nettle has also carotenoids such as beta-carotene, which have antioxidant properties.
Vitamins: Nettle is a good source of vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Minerals: it is a good source of minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, and silica.
Tannins: Nettle contains tannins that have astringent properties and can be used to treat diarrhea, wounds, and hemorrhages.
Histamine: Nettle retains histamine which causes a stingy sensation when the plant is touched, but also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Formic acid: It has formic acid which causes a stingy sensation when the plant is touched, but also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Proteins: Nettle leaves possess proteins that are beneficial for hair growth and repair.
This list is not exhaustive, and nettle may contain other chemical compounds that have not been mentioned here. It’s important to note that some of the chemical compounds found in nettle may have side effects or interact with medications, so it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using nettle as a supplement.
Nettle herb usage in natural remedies
It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for a variety of conditions. Here are a few home remedies that use nettle:
- Nettle tea: To make nettle tea, steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried nettle leaves in hot water for several minutes, then strain. Nettle tea can be consumed to help relieve symptoms of allergies, improve digestion, and promote healthy skin.
- Nettle infusion: To make a nettle infusion, steep fresh or dried nettle leaves in hot water for several hours. The infusion can be applied to the scalp to help promote healthy hair growth, or to the skin to help relieve symptoms of eczema and other skin conditions.
- Nettle poultice: To make a nettle poultice, crush fresh nettle leaves and apply them directly to the skin. The poultice can be used to help relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and other conditions.
- Nettle hair rinse: To make a nettle hair rinse, steep dried nettle leaves in hot water for several hours, then strain. The rinse can be used to help promote healthy hair growth and to help relieve dandruff and other scalp conditions.
- Nettle soup: Nettle leaves can be added to soups, stews, and other dishes as a source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
It’s important to note that some people may be sensitive to the sting of nettle and should use gloves when handling the plant. Also, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using nettle as a home remedy, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have any health conditions.
Is nettle herb safe to use?
Nettle is generally considered safe when used in moderate amounts and the forms commonly used in food or supplements such as teas, capsules, tinctures, and dried leaves. However, it can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction if touched, so it’s best to wear gloves when handling fresh nettle. Also, some people may be more sensitive to the sting of the nettle than others.
Nettle may have some side effects when used in large amounts or in certain forms, such as nettle root extract, for long periods. It may interact with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin, so it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using nettle if you are taking any medications.
It is also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women to use nettle as it may cause uterine contractions or bleeding. Also, people with blood disorders, low blood pressure, or allergies to plants in the Urticaceae family should avoid using nettle.