The stinging nettle plant, also known as Urtica dioica, has been widely used in traditional herbal medicine to treat many disorders. Like many other herbs, various parts of the plant, including the leaves, stems, and roots possess medicinal properties. And in herbal medicine, knowing how each part of a plant differs from the other is important for proper treatment.
In this blog, we are going to review some of the differences between nettle root and the nettle leaf. Although both highly medicinal, their properties differ, here's how...
Traditionally speaking, the root of the nettle plant has been considered a tonic to the kidneys and bladder, used to treat various urinary problems. Today, it is recognized for its powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-diabetic qualities, as well as a primary herbal remedy for benign prostatic hyperplasia. In fact, in Germany, nettle root is used in clinical practice for this condition.
Most of the nettle roots health benefits trace back to its anti-aromatase mechanisms. Aromatase activity is the enzymatic conversion of androgens into estrogens. By inhibiting the aromatase enzymes, nettle root not only effectively suppresses prostate-cell metabolism and growth but may also health with breast cancer and other estrogen-related diseases such as hair loss and PCOS.
Estrogens influence breast cancer development and progression by various methods including stimulation of cell proliferation through the ERα pathway, direct increases in rates of genetic mutations, or effects on the DNA repair system. 1, 2, 3
Nettle Leaves and Stems
Looking now at the more herbaceous parts of the nettle plant; these have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties that make them useful for painful conditions such as arthritis and sore muscles.
Also, the nettle leaf and stem have anti-histamine properties, which may help with allergies and allergy-related problems. In fact, nettle (Urtica dioica) extract shows in vitro inhibition of several key inflammatory pathways that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies, and may possibly reduce the body's production of histamine. 4
A number of clinical studies have reported that nettle root is useful in treating:
- Prostate Enlargement: In one study done in 2005, it was found that people with BHP (prostate enlargement) who supplemented with nettle root had significant improvement in their symptoms compared to the placebo group. 5
Looking at nettle leaf, various studies have varied its anti-inflammatory effects.
- Pain Relief: In one study done in 2000, patients with arthritic pain who supplemented with nettle leaf topically, had a significant reduction in pain compared to the control group. 6
- Anti-Allergy: In a study done in 2000, it was discovered that stinging nettle could reduce histamine and positively improve allergies. According to research, nettle extract shows in vitro inhibition of several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies. These include the antagonist and negative agonist activity against the Histamine-1 (H(1)) receptor and the inhibition of mast cell tryptase preventing degranulation and release of a host of pro-inflammatory mediators that cause the symptoms of hay fevers. 7
If you are interested in utilizing either nettle root or stinging nettle you'll want to make sure to get a proper dose and extraction.
For the dried leaf, this is usually taken either fresh or dried and turned into a tea, with the ideal dose at 2 to 4 gm, three times a day.
For the root, this is best taken in extracted form, be it alcohol extraction or hot water, powder extraction like this. A dose of 500mg three times daily will help you achieve its effects.