Plant Profile: Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle
(Urtica urens; Urtica dioica)


Energetics: Neutral to Cooling. Drying

Taste: Slightly bitter. Salty. A little sweet. 

Tissue States: Damp. Hot.

Systems Affected: Blood. Liver. Kidneys. Lungs. Small intestines. Bladder. Lungs.

Parts Used: Leaves. (Less common root and seed)

Key Components: High in chlorophyll. Indoes (histamine & serotinic). Acetylcholine. Vitamin A. B Vitamins.Vitamin C. Vitamin K. Beta-carotene. Calcium. Iron. Silicon. Potassium. Protein. Fiber. Sulfur. Flavonoids. Mucilage. Acetylcholine. Glycosides. Formic Acid

Preparations & dosage: Infusion. Overnight nourishing infusion (1 oz steeped in 1 quart just boiled water covered for 4-8 hours). Tincture. Vinegar. Oil. Food (steamed or cooked to remove sting).


Foundational: Astringent
Primary: Alterative. Expectorant. Hemostatic. Galactagogue. Anti-histamine. Diuretic
Secondary: Nutritive Tonic. Trophorestorative


  • Root is specific as a prostate tonic. 
  • Helps to process protein in the body and remove toxic protein waste. 
  • Blood building. 
  • Good for adults and children with blood deficiency or anemia. 
  • Supports healthy energy levels if you're feeling tired and rundown.
  • Improves all body functions including thyroid, kidneys, muscles, nerves, digestive tract. 
  • Great for breastfeeding formulas. 
  • Scanty or absent menstrual cycle.
  • To relieve sharp shooting nerve pain such as sciatica. 
  • Stimulates thyroid.
  • Reproductive tonic for both male and female.
  • Increasing milk supply in nursing mothers. 
  • Prostate
  • PMS
  • Fertility
  • Menopause
  • Menstrual or leg cramps
  • Asthma
  • Urinary problems both chronic and acute
  • Urinary stones
  • Diuretic properties mean its helpful in draining edema or other bodily fluid congestion. 
  • Seed tincture for degenerative kidney disease. 
  • Seeds also strengthen adrenals and can be used as an adaptogen in worn out people. A Dr in Germany had a lot of success using 1-2 tsp of Nettle seed a day as an adaptogen for elderly nursing home residents to help bring some energy and life back into them. 
  • Arthritis including rheumatic. 
  • Increases antioxidant levels and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation especially in those with type 2 diabetes who have been shown to have higher levels of oxidative stress. 
  • There's hardly a formula that wouldn't call for Nettle!
Growing pains in children as well as older creaky joints. One of if not THE best I have found for seasonal allergies. Mix Combined with oat is excellent for malnutrition. Nutritive properties & affinity for the liver make it a great reproductive tonic for both men & women. Often in formulas for PMS, infertility, menstrual difficulties & menopausal issues.  Specific for osteoporosis. Use 5 days per week for at least 1 year to reverse osteopenia. Helps to process protein in the body as well as removing toxic protein waste. Add to breast feeding formulas for nutritive support. Known to relieve nerve pain such as the sharp, shooting pain such as sciatica. Asthma, Chronic & acute urinary complaints, Nephritis, Cystitis, Internal & external Bleeding, Nettle roots have been effective in treating enlarged prostate and other prostate issues. Seeds are a thyroid stimulant. Root is specific as a prostate tonic.

We personally use it to deal with my 12 year olds seasonal allergies. It works better than ANY allergy medication she has ever taken and we have taken them ALL. Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra and even straight Benadryl. One of them (I think it was Zyrtec) actually turned her into an evil demon child. None of them ever truly worked on her allergies. We started giving her stinging nettle infusions (though I've read that some say a tincture is better) and her symptoms were non existent! Not only that but her general reaction was far less severe this year compared to last. I'm theorizing that this has something to do with its affinity for the liver and its blood building properties. 2 years ago she would drink 2 ounces every 2 hours all day. This year she was really big enough to make it herself and decided to add spearmint to it. She had maybe 5 cups all season! And this is a child that, from the time she was 5 years old, would puff up and her eyes would be almost swollen shut and so stuffy and miserable. 

And this isn't even as bad as it got! 
A nettle sting can hurt much like a bee sting. Not surprising since the formic acid that causes the stinging sensation from a nettle sting is also the same formic acid that comes from a bee sting. That sting has successfully been used to relieve the pain and inflammation of arthritis. People have also used bee stings for the same purpose. 

Combines well with: Violet (especially if nettle itself is too drying). 

Identifying: Toothed, heat shaped leaves. Resembles mint plants with its square stem and opposite leaves that alternate sides up the stem. Covered with stinging hairs that will sting when touched. The sting feels like a bee sting or ant bite due to its formic acid. Grows to be between 2 & 6' tall.  Grows both make and female flowers on a single plant. Female flowers grow in clusters and the male flowers grow in racemes, which are a flower cluster with the separate flowers attached by short equal stalks at equal distances along a central stem. The flowers at the base of the central stem develop first. 

Growing: Perennial in zones 4-8. Rich, damp, protein and nitrogen rich soil. Full sun to partial shade. 

Harvesting: Best harvested before the flowering top develops. Final harvest to be dried should happen just before flowering and cut down to about 4" above the ground. 

Contraindications: Beware the nettle sting. Wear good, protective gloves when harvesting. Regular gardening gloves will still allow the hairs to get through and sting, trust me, I know! 


Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: Rosemary Gladstar. Pg 175-179.
The Herbal Apothecary: JJ Pursell. Pg 136-138
The Way of Herbs: Michael Tierra. Pg 166-167
Growing and Using the Healing Herbs: Gaea & Shandor Weiss. Pg 193-195
The Complete Herbs Sourcebook: David Hoffman. Pg 291