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Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle Tea

By Dr. Christine Princeton, D.O.

Stinging nettle, also called Urtica dioica, has been shown to relieve allergies, eczema, anemia and gout, according to the book "Integrative Medicine." For instance, 57 percent of patients found stinging nettle effective in alleviating allergic rhinitis symptoms, while 48 percent stated that it surpassed other allergy medications in its effectiveness. Common side effects include lower blood pressure, hyperrglycemia in diabetic patients, rash, sweating and gastrointestinal upset. Rare side effects include problems breathing, weakness, muscle tremors, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, salivation and dilation of pupils. Contraindications include warfarin use and allergies to Urtica species. Consult your health care provider before taking any herbal supplement.

Urticaria

According to the book "Integrative Medicine," stinging nettle is useful in the treatment of hives or urticaria. Urtica dioica leaves contain flavonoids, namely kaempferol, quercetin and rutin. Flavonoids are plant pigments--or bioflavonoids--responsible for the colors found in various fruits and vegetables. For instance, quercetin is important in treating hives because it stabilizes mast cells that effectively reduces the amount of histamine. Take nettle in 300mg doses at least three times per day for hive symptoms.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH is a condition where the prostate gland enlarges, producing urinary tract problems in men. Stinging nettle has been indicated as an alternative treatment for BPH in an article published in the "Urology Clinics of North America" journal. "Physician's Desk Reference on Herbal Medicines" also states that stinging nettle root has been shown to increase urine flow in men with enlarged prostates.

Phytotherapeutic Properties

According to the book "Campbell-Walsh Urology," extracts from the roots of stinging nettle contain phytotherapeutic products made up of plant oils, fatty acid chains, phytosterols and phytoestrogens. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects, alter growth factors, regulate lipid peroxidation, inhibit 5alpha-reductase and protect the bladder as well as the muscles that control its function.

Antifungal Effects

Common in most temperate regions along rivers and lakes, stinging nettle is a plant that also has antifungal properties. According to "Physician's Desk Reference on Herbal Medicines," the stinging nettle's lectin agglutinin. In a study published in the "Journal of Biological Chemistry," lectin agglutinin has chitin-binding properties which result in strong antifungal and mild antibacterial functions.

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