Nettle Tea - Benefits and Side Effects Unpicked
The benefits of stinging nettle tea have a long history of use as a source of traditional herbal medicine.
Stinging nettles were commonly used to treat painful muscles, gout, eczema, and anemia.
It is said that Roman troops rubbed stinging nettle leaves on themselves to keep warm.
Today, this extraordinary vegetable is used as an alternative remedy to reduce arthritis pain and treat urinary problems, specifically during the early stages of prostate gland enlargement.
It is also popularly used as a vegetable green, a great addition to tea and juice, and a blood nourishing tonic.
What Is A Stinging Nettle?
Also known as;
- Urtica Dioica
- Burn Nettle
Where Does It Originate From?
Stinging nettle is a herbaceous flowering plant that originated from Europe and is now found worldwide, including North America.
Though common in Europe, North Africa, and North America, stinging nettle plants are distributed nearly worldwide.
Their scientific name is Urtica dioica, and they belong to the family Urticaceae.
How Tall Can Stinging Nettles Grow?
Stinging nettle plants grow tall in the summer (rarely growing past 5′) and die down to the ground in winter.
They have noticeable rhizomes and stolons that spread widely with a bright yellow color, similar to the roots.
The soft green leaves have strongly serrated edges and tend to grow opposite of each other on an erect, green stem.
The leaves and stems have small stinging hairs that inject varying chemicals when touched like;
- Formic acid
This results in skin irritation, redness, and swelling.
What Is Nettle Tea?
Stinging nettle leaves are commonly brewed as tea which offers numerous health benefits.
Oil extracted from nettle stems can be applied topically to prevent hair loss and aid hair growth.
Nettle tea is a nutritious herbal tea typically consisting of stinging nettle leaves infused in hot water.
Stinging nettle tea is packed with a massive variety of beneficial minerals and nutrients, including;
- Vitamins C, A, and K
- Fatty acids
- Essential amino acids
This medicinal herb is also a rich source of minerals like;
Flavor Profile of Nettle Tea
The taste of Nettle tea is quite similar to Green tea.
Some people also compare its taste to regular vegetable broth.
If you have never tasted nettle leaf tea, you can expect a mild to strong taste with rich grassy and earthy flavors, depending on the concentration of the tea.
You can even-out the hay-like taste of nettle tea by adding prefered sweeteners like honey.
13 Scientific Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle Tea
Below we discuss the 13 scientific health benefits of stinging nettle tea.
We’ll also guide you on how to brew stinging nettle tea and go over its potential side effects.
1. Helps Detoxify The Body
There are many beneficial nutrients in stinging nettle tea that can naturally detoxify the body.
One of the most popular benefits of stinging nettle tea is that it acts as a diuretic, helping the body eliminate neutralized toxins quickly.
Nettle tea can also enhance the uptake of nutrients in the gut, ensuring that the digestive process runs smoothly.
A properly functioning digestive system helps prevent the build-up of harmful toxins in the body.
2. Enhances Eye Health
Stinging nettle is an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin A.
Research has found that these 2 nutrients can support eye health and prevent eye diseases.
An earlier study published in Food Science & Nutrition concludes that nettle leaves possess up to ten times the amount of beta-carotene in wheat and barley.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant commonly found in red and orange foods, and it protects vision by keeping the surface/covering of the eye (cornea) moist and healthy.
Vitamin A also plays a crucial role in ensuring a clear cornea, allowing you to see even in low light conditions.
3. Helps Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a critical part of our body’s healing process.
Inflammatory cells flow to a place of injury or an area with bacteria/virus, making it red and swollen as an army of white blood cells fight the infection and help you heal.
However, if inflammatory cells remain in the area too long, it may result in chronic inflammation, which can cause significant harm.
Stinging nettle tea has been used in medieval Europe to treat diseases of inflammation like;
- Joint pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Multiple animal and human studies point towards the ability of stinging nettle to help reduce inflammation.
This health benefit of nettle tea can be explained by the many potent anti-inflammatory compounds in the perennial flowering plant.
In an animal study, stinging nettle significantly lowered the amount of multiple inflammatory hormones by hindering their secretion.
A human study found that topical application of stinging nettle cream extract can help relieve chronic inflammatory disorders like arthritis and chronic muscle pain.
4. Relieves Pain
Stinging nettle may help alleviate pain thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Another incredible benefit of stinging nettle tea is its ability to relieve pain resulting from headaches or chronic joint pain due to arthritis.
A randomized, controlled, double-blind study examined the effects of stinging nettle on 27 patients experiencing osteoarthritis pain.
The study, (published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine), found that patients who applied stinging nettle leaf directly to the painful area daily for seven days had much less pain than those using a placebo.
5. Enhances Feminine Health
Nettle tea possesses multiple active compounds that can be beneficial for feminine health.
The plant has astringent capabilities that help minimize blood flow during menstruation.
Stinging nettle is also well known to relieve cramping and bloating during the time of the month.
Nettle Tea And The Menopause
Stinging nettle may also be helpful for women going through menopause.
It is often prescribed as a potent herbal remedy to help smooth the natural transition and make the hormonal shift less dramatic in the body.
It’s important to note that more well-designed research is still required to determine the efficacy and safety of natural remedies.
6. May Treat Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
Enlarged prostate is also commonly called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These symptoms can happen to almost all men as they grow older.
Enlarged prostate typically means that the gland has enlarged or grown bigger, and the symptoms are not cancerous, and neither do they increase the risk for prostate cancer.
Some research has linked treatment with nettle to help alleviate the symptoms of BPH.
According to an animal study, stinging nettle can potentially stop the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.
Dihydrotestosterone is an extremely powerful form of testosterone that has been linked to hair loss and other health problems.
By preventing this conversion, stinging nettle can help reduce prostate size.
7. Reduces The Risk Of Infections
Stinging nettle possesses antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiulcer properties.
According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, drinking nettle tea can help reduce the risk of infections.
The research found that this herbal tea effectively prevented ulcers resulting from alcohol consumption.
8. Helps Prevent Kidney Stones
Stinging nettle is a well-known diuretic and has been used to treat kidney stones and other urinary ailments since ancient times.
The active compounds found in nettle plants, including flavonoids, saponins, and anthocyanins, are antioxidants thought to have anti-inflammatory benefits.
In addition to boosting the immune system, these compounds can also prevent calcium and oxalate deposition while hindering crystal growth in the body.
A study published in Elsevier’s Phytomedicine journal finds that nettle preparations can exert many potent in vitro and in vivo benefits to help with urinary tract infections.
Please note that additional studies are needed to better understand these effects.
9. Helps Treat Hay Fever
Hay fever, commonly referred to as allergic rhinitis, is associated with cold-like symptoms like itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and congestion.
These seasonal allergies happen during certain times of the year, when grass, trees, and weeds start releasing tiny pollen into the air.
Hay fever is characterized by inflammation in the lining of the nose.
Research suggests that nettle tea benefits are a potent treatment for hay fever.
Multiple test tube studies show that nettle extracts can prevent the type of inflammation that triggers hay fever.
It can also block histamine receptors and stop immune cells from producing the chemicals that trigger allergic reactions.
However, some human studies suggest that nettle products are only as effective or slightly better at treating hay fever as placebos.
10. Protects Heart Health
The compounds in nettle tea may protect and boost heart health. According to researchers, stinging nettle can help protect the heart from cardiovascular diseases while preventing blood clots and lowering the risks of high blood pressure.
There is scientific evidence that the phenolic compounds in nettle tea can effectively prevent coronary diseases.
Consumption of nettle tea can promote lower blood pressure and reduce strain, stress, and tension on the heart.
In addition, the anti-inflammatory activity of stinging nettle can significantly reduce inflammation in the arteries and blood vessels, lowering blood pressure levels and preventing heart diseases.
11. Relieves Respiratory Issues
Multiple research connects the consumption of stinging nettle tea to the complementary treatment of many respiratory issues like asthma.
A clinical trial found that drinking nettle tea regularly can help ease asthmatic symptoms in Australian patients for generations.
12. Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Some human and animal studies point toward the potential of stinging nettle tea to help control blood sugar levels.
Evidence shows that stinging nettle plants contain specific compounds that can mimic the positive effects of insulin and can lower blood glucose levels.
A 3-month study involving 46 participants who consumed 500mg of nettle extract 3x each day found that it dramatically lowered blood sugar levels than a placebo.
More human studies are necessary to confirm the efficacy of stinging nettle extracts in blood sugar control.
13. Boosts Liver Health
Several studies have concluded that regular consumption of stinging nettle tea can help enhance liver health.
The antioxidant properties of this herbal remedy can protect the liver against damages resulting from inflammation, harmful toxins, and heavy metals.
Potential Side Effects Of Stinging Nettle Tea
Stinging nettle is generally considered safe for consumption, whether dried or cooked.
However, despite the promising health benefits of stinging nettle tea, some people have reported mild and reversible side effects like diarrhea and sweating.
You must also be cautious when handling fresh nettle leaves as they can cause a serious stinging sensation resulting in;
Side Effects During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are advised to avoid consuming stinging nettle as it has been found to trigger uterine contractions, increasing the risks of miscarriage.
Stinging nettle can also interfere with drugs such as;
- Blood thinners
- Diabetes medications
How To Brew Nettle Tea - the bottom line
Making stinging nettle tea can be as easy as buying tea bags and following the provided instructions to create a highly nutritious tea.
However, some people prefer to harvest fresh stinging nettle leaves and brew the tea at home.
Please note that you must wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and hand gloves to avoid touching or brushing against stinging nettle plants.
Homemade Nettle Tea
Consider harvesting only the top two to three layers of the leaves.
This allows the healthy plants to continue growing without exposing other leaves to potential damage.
You can make tea from the fresh leaves or spread them on a clean surface in direct sunlight to dry.
Ensure the extra stinging nettle leaves are put in an airtight container and stored in a cool, dark place.
Brew Nettle Tea In 5 Simple Steps
Below is the best way to brew stinging nettle tea at home in 5 simple steps;
- Turn on your stove and bring clean water to a boil. Note: One cup of fresh nettle leaves should go with two cups of water, while one teaspoon of dried leaves goes with eight ounces of water.
- Carefully add your fresh or dried leaves to the boiling water and reduce the heat to a medium.
- Allow the leaves to steep for about 5-7 minutes. Note that the longer you steep your tea, the more concentrated and the stronger its flavor will be.
- Strain the tea into a mug and consider adding a sweetener like honey or sugar if the flavor is too strong for your liking.
- Drink Stinging Nettle tea on a regular basis to enjoy the health benefits of stinging nettle.