Nettles weed of the week health properties and research

Nutritional content

Nettles contain vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (panothenic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin E. chlorophyll, potassium, calcium, mangaan, acetycholine, serotonine, sulphur, iron, selenium, magnesium, chromium and zinc.

Nicholas Culpepper, in his classic work Complete Herbal and English Physician says that Mars governs nettles. ” 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 nettle-tops, eaten in the spring, consumeth the phlegmatic superfluities in the body of man, that the coldness and moistness that winter hath left behind.”
Medical uses
Arthritic joints were traditionally treated by whipping the joint with a branch of stinging nettles. The theory was that it stimulated the immune system and thus reduced swelling and pain in the joint. Various studies support the effectiveness of this treatment ( Randall et al., 2000; Chrubasik et al., 1997).
Various types of Nettle have been studied for their effects on prostate hypertrophy, diabetes mellitus, rheumatic disease, hypertension, gastrointestinal symptoms, osteoarthritis, diarrhea, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, pain (Gülçin et al., 2003; Marrassini, et al ., 2010), constipation, gastrointestinal disease, headache, nausea, common cold, arthritis, asthma, bleeding, respiratory tract disease, allergic rhinitis, kidney disease, prostate cancer, skin disease and urinary tract disease. In terms of allergies, nettle contains properties of an antihistamine to be used for treating reactions associated with the respiratory system.
Medical research
In clinical trials Urtica dioica has been tested for its benefits in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BHP), a condition that affects elderly men. It is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostrate gland. This gradually narrows the uretha that drains the urine from the bladder and causes difficulty in urination. This can also cause lower urinary tract symptoms.

In clinical trials held at the University of Medical Sciences in Iran, Urtica dioica has been shown to lessen the symptoms of BHP. In a 6 month trail 81% of the 287 patients suffering with BHP and using nettle, had noticed an improvement of their symptoms of lower urinary tract, compared to 16% of the 271 patients taking a placebo. A modest reduction in the size of the prostrate was also noticed in the patients taking the roots of Urtica dioica. (PubMed 2005).

Further clinical trials held in the University Clinics of Cologne in Germany, for patients suffering from Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS), caused by BHP proved to have a higher success rate of 34% for those taking the roots of Urtica dioica compared with the patients who took Tamsulosin (an alpha blocker) medication.

In 1999 at the Plymouth postgraduate Medical School, University of Plymouth in Devon, an exploratory study of nettles Urtica dioica for musculoskeletal pain and discomfort was conducted by Dr. Colin Randall. The trial was conducted on 18 patients whose ages were between 48 and 82 and who had already used nettle for the varied pain and limited function in the knees, shoulders, wrists, finger, back thumb, hips or sciatica. 15 of the 18 patients claimed nettle treatment worked about 90% of the time. The pain relief was normally quick to act and one patient claimed her psoriasis on her elbows had also improved. No serious side effects were found from nettle use other than the red rash normally caused by the nettle sting. The results found were interesting and led Dr. Randall to study nettle use further.

In 2000, he conducted a randomised controlled double blind study of nettle Urtica dioica in the use for people who suffer from osteoarthritic pain in the base of the thumb or index finger. The stings of nettle leaves were applied to the base of the thumb or finger for one week. 27 patients took part on this occasion. 13 patients used stinging nettle Urtica dioica while 14 used White Dead Nettle Labium album as a placibo. Researchers found that nettle stings significantly reduced the pain of osteoarthritis in the thumb and index finger and also the level of pain stayed lower throughout most of the treatment. 17 patients said they wished to use stinging nettle in the future. Recently research has demonstrated that the (N-acetylglucosamine)n-specific plant lectin from Urtica dioica is a potent and selective inhibitor of human immunodeficiency virus and cytomegalovirus replication in vitro.
Akbay et al., 3002 isolated the major flavonoid compounds from the methanolic extract of the aerial parts of Urtica dioica L. Their immunomodulatory activities were studied in vitro by chemotaxi. the total flavonoid fraction were determined to have significant chemotactic effects According to the results all flavonoid glycosides showed high intracellular killing activity. The results of both assays confirmed the immunostimulatory activity of the flavonoid fraction and the isolated flavonoid glycosides on neutrophils suggesting that they could possibly be useful for treating patients suffering from neutrophil function deficiency and chronic granulomatous diseases.

 

Tall nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettle now.
This corner of the farmyard I like most
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

Poem by Edward Thomas 1878 – 1917

 

REFERENCES
Akbay, P., Basaran, A. A., Undeger, U. and Basaran, N. (2003), In vitro immunomodulatory activity of flavonoid glycosides from Urtica dioica L. Phytother. Res., 17: 34–37. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1068
• Jan Balzarinia,Johan Neytsa,Dominique Scholsa,Mitsuaki Hosoyac, Els Van Dammeb, Willy Peumansb, Erik De Clercq Helleborine and the (N-acetylglucosamine)n-specific plant lectin from Urtica dioica are potent and selective inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus and cytomegalovirus replication in vitro
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0166-3542(92)90038-7, How to Cite or Link Using DOI
http://esa.ipb.pt/pdf/RefPlants_20.pdf
Chrubasik S, Enderlein W, Bauer R, Grabner W. (1997). Evidence for the antirheumatic effectiveness of herba urticae dioicae in acute arthritis: A pilot study. Phytomedicine 4: 105-108.
David 1991 Insects on Nettles Naturalists Handbook Richmond Publishing Co Slough England
˙Ilhami Gülçin a, Ö. ˙Irfan Küfrevioˇglu a,∗, Münir Oktay b, Mehmet Emin Büyükokuroˇglu c 2004 Antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiulcer and analgesic activities of nettle (Urtica dioica L.) Journal of Ethnopharmacology 90 (2004) 205–215

Mabey Richard 2010 Weeds Profile Books London
Mabey Richard 1977 Plants With A Purpose Collins London
Mabey Richard 2007 Food for Free Collins London
Marrassini, C.; Acevedo, C.; Miño, J.; Ferraro, G.; Gorzalczany, S. (2010). “Evaluation of antinociceptive, antinflammatory activities and phytochemical analysis of aerial parts of Urtica urens L.”. Phytother Res 24 (12): 1807–1812. doi:10.1002/ptr.3188
Randall C, Randall H, Dobbs F, Hutton C, Sanders H (2000 Jun), “Randomized controlled trial of nettle sting for treatment of base-of-thumb pain”, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 93 (6): 305–309, PMC 1298033, PMID 10911825
Salisbury Edwards 1961 Weeds and Aliens New Naturalist Collins London

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