Stinging Nettles: 5 Health Benefits You Need to Know

| Modified on Feb 23, 2023
Nettle Health Benefits

You are probably familiar with the all too common negative effects of stinging nettle – a sudden, intense pain that feels like hundreds or thousands of invisible needles are pricking into your skin…With that kind of defense mechanism, stinging nettles often get a “bad rap,” but the truth is these feisty plants are also beneficial to our health. Among other things, stinging nettles are good for internal and external bleeding, blood purification, congestion, and skin irritation.

What Are Stinging Nettles? (Won’t They Hurt Me?)

When you think of stinging nettles, you probably only think of them in the negative. Contrary to the commonly held belief that nettles are just a pesky weed, this plant is actually an important component of health remedies and even pharmaceuticals and has been for ages.

Nettles are typically bright green to gray in color and are typically found in the United States and Canada. The plant spreads by seed and creeping roots and may even grow as tall as seven feet. The root as well as the above-ground plant parts are used in making medicine and herbal treatments.

What Are the Major Health Benefits of Nettles?

The stinging nettle has a history that dates back to ancient Greek times – a period during which nettles were used primarily as a diuretic and laxative. While these usage options still hold true today, the application of nettles has grown to encompass an even greater amount of remedies.

Stinging nettles contain important compounds that help decrease inflammation. The herb is also helpful for increasing urine output, relieving muscle pain, curing urinary tract infections, suppressing allergic reactions, and calming itching and irritation from insect bites. The herb also seems to have a positive effect on hormonal production.

What Health Conditions Can Nettles Treat?

The body of research for all kinds of medicines is increasing but especially for natural medicine. Common applications for nettles include such conditions as urinary tract infection, enlarged prostate, diabetes, eczema, and osteoarthritis. This herbal remedy may even be an effective component of cancer treatment.

1. Urinary Tract Infection

The active compounds in stinging nettle function as a mild diuretic. As such, the herb helps stimulate urine flow and can relieve symptoms of urinary tract infections. Nettles also help relieve inflammation and treat infection. It not only effectively relieves pain, but it also helps treat the underlying condition.

2. Enlarged Prostate

According to research presented by the University of Maryland Medical Center, stinging nettle is a root that is used throughout Europe for treating enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Stinging nettle is effective for slowing the growth of prostate cells as well as relieving symptoms such as reduced urinary flow, incomplete emptying of the bladder, post urination dripping, and the constant need to urinate.

3. Diabetes

Another application for stinging nettle is as a treatment for diabetes. The chemical compounds in stinging nettle may help reduce blood sugar and control insulin spikes. It is important to not, though, that this remedy may cause your blood sugar to drop too low if used in conjunction with other diabetes medication.

4. Eczema

While it may seem counterintuitive to use a reaction-causing agent to treat an issue that involves skin irritation, stinging nettle is an effective remedy for eczema as well. The plant helps relive inflammation and can even reverse the manifestation of this condition.

5. Osteoarthritis

Stinging nettle has been used historically as an arthritis treatment as well as a remedy for sore muscles. Stinging nettle is functions in much the same manner as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and often allows individuals to reduce their typical treatment doses.

How Do I Take Stinging Nettles?

Stinging nettles can be used in a variety of different forms. The most common treatments include teas, tinctures, extracts, creams, and freeze dried capsules. You can typically find stinging nettles at any health food store.

Keep reading to discover more ways to use stinging nettles to your advantage.


The Many Stinging Nettle Benefits -
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2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Charlotte (Marietta, GA) on 02/05/2022

I have serious allergies to dust and mold. Also to seasonal allergens I get a lot of post nasal drip and consequent clearing the throat and congestion. I found out about nettle and have been taking the capsules every day for quite a while now. If I have a lot of drainage or congestion, I take a capsule and within 15-20 min it's all gone! No more hacking! It works better than OTC allergy pills. I can't live without it! The only issue is that I have to take it all the time but it really does work well.

Posted by Nirinjan (Traverse City, Michigan) on 12/30/2009

A tincture or tea of the stinging nettles plant works well for allergies.

Chronic Cough and Excessive Mucus

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Liz (Scottadale. AZ) on 02/23/2023

Chronic Cough and Excessive Mucus

Have you tried Stinging Nettle Leaf? It is considered a natural antihistamine. I take capsule form which really helps with post nasal drip or runny nose. A good brand is one by Wild Harvest. I always carry some in person because it's great for cold/allergy symptoms! I hope this helps you.

Hay Fever

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by William (Midwest) on 10/07/2015

Noticed something seriously missing from your stinging nettles page, a top remedy for hay fever (seasonal allergies) is stinging nettles (which I've personally used and it knocked out my hay fever (fall pollen allergy) out!

I've used stinging nettles tinctures, but boiling them in water a bit, draining off the water (tonic) and drinking works too. I've heard the leaves can be rolled up (needles inside) and chewed is another oral method.

Stinging Nettles for Hay Fever is #1 or seasonal allergies should be top of list (IMHO). Peace

How to Treat a Sting

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Michael (New Zealand) on 01/02/2017

Oh Boy, are these New Zealand NETTLES so much more powerful than the ones I remember from my childhood days back in the Channel Islands! They were wimps obviously! Wow - the PAIN!! They have a nettle bush in the South Island that can kill you if you are unlucky enough to fall into it whilst staggering your way back to the camp site after a few too many beers at the pub! Anyway, I digress, I was silly enough to take off my gloves after culling some of my "compost bin" nettles because they were seeding and I did not wish them to spread any more you see. My tenant used to make his tea from them by the way. Then I poked around (as you do) in the garden and there must have been a couple of nettles I had missed and I got ZAPPED. Wow! No worries I thought, just slap on some of the old, faithful Rawleigh's Salve and she'll be right mate, no sweat, I'm a tough old Geezer after all.

Well after ten mins. and no improvement, I reverted to ten mins. with the reliable Coconut Oil and I had high hopes! Still nothing! So I ended up putting (difficult to say this bit 'tis true) ordinary, ole, cheepo honey on fingers. Well I have to tell you, that one cut the mustard all right. There was a pleasant throbbing took over from the burning sensation, as though the magic was strutting its stuff and instead of being awake all night re-evaluating my gardening techniques, I slept like the proverbial baby.

So Manuka honey not needed for that one obviously! Shoots a small hole in my pet theory. Back to the drawing board. I must try not to keep doing these experiments on myself. Where is the cat? (Just kidding).

Cheers, Michael


1 User Review
4 star (1) 

Posted by Siinvincible (Wales) on 05/01/2016

At aged 22, I got diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both hips, sporting-related apparently. I used a number of natural remedies to keep me going (I was in my uni badminton team, and soon to be running a half marathon barefoot, so felt the need to just keep going). Molasses is great for when the inflammation causes a variation on sciatica. Milk of Magnesia and Cod Liver Oil are very good for making the joints supple the day before a match. Heel lifts, although they make you look a bit weird, are great for keeping the blood flowing when the inflammation builds especially whilst running.

But when the inflammation is very intense when in rest, there is no better cure I've found than externally applying stinging nettles to the affected area. My Mum is a herbalist, and told me some years ago about the traditional usage of nettles as a lashing for especially joint problems/muscle injuries. I guess the theory is that the sting from the nettles causes an increase in blood flow to the affected area.

I'd recommend really going to town on the stinging especially if the pain is quite deep, and in my experience it is always rather soothing to experience being stung where the muscles/joint are hurting so much. But importantly, wrap up very warm, or apply a hot water bottle, after stinging!

For some reason this treatment can shock the body into fever if you don't take adequate measures afterwards. Also, expect a bit of itchiness especially the day after! And I would recommend just administering one treatment every day at the most, because of the intensity of the treatment, and to keep using other treatments alongside.

Stinging Nettles User Reviews

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Suzy (Eugene) on 04/07/2015

Over the recent Easter weekend one of our Easter guests brought us a bag of freshly harvested nettle tops to share.

He blanched the tops and reserved the liquid to use as a tea. The tea he sweetened slightly with honey and it was good (better than green tea! ) We ate the tops as you would spinach or kale. They were very good! Not as slimy as spinach and not as bitter as I find kale. I used the leftovers in an omelet and also added it to a stew (in the bowl just before serving).

Our guest was telling us about how people were using it to treat arthritis. We were interested to hear of this as we know of so many people that suffer from arthritis.

I logged on here hoping to see more information and comments from others . I was disappointed as there was not much in the Nettles section. I saw Mama's comments but I was sure there would be more.

We do plan to look for patches near us and and eat this in the future. We were told to harvest the tops and one can continue to harvest until the plant blooms.

Since the spring season is here I am sure that nettles are springing up all over and this would be a great time for others to try them and add some feedback. I realize also that others need to get there nettles from the powders but I thought it might be nice to get this section fleshed out. Can 'Ole Robert Henry -- weigh in on this?

Stinging Nettles User Reviews
Posted by Mama To Many (Tennessee) on 07/06/2014


I have a neat nettles story to share.

Last week my teenage son was harvesting green beans at the farm where he works. He had a terrible reaction to the green bean plants. He developed welts on his arms. (The plants are grown organically, so it wasn't from pesticides.) Two days later when he showed me his arms, there were still red marks on them. He said he would be harvesting green beans the next day. I told him to take 4 nettles capsules before bed and 4 more before he left for work, which he did.

He had no reaction on his arms that day! He said his fingers felt a little itchy that day but no welts, marks etc.

Nettles are amazing. I love how they help allergic reactions of so many different types. We have used it for seasonal allergies, hives, a reaction to jalapeno peppers, and now for a reaction to green bean plants. It is fascinating that a plant that can cause a skin reaction if touched, can heal skin reactions that are cause by other plants.

Nettles are wonderfully nutritive, too. Meeya mentioned using a tea for this purpose here at EC today. And Rachel Weaver suggests it as part of a nutritive tea for pregnant and nursing mothers in her book, Be Your Own Doctor. We always have powdered nettles, dried nettle leaf, and nettle tincture in the house. I love that it is gentle and safe for all ages, pregnancy and breastfeeding. I never know when it will be needed!

Thus ends my commercial for nettles. :)

~Mama to Many~

Stinging Nettles User Reviews
Posted by Simon (Bath, England) on 02/01/2012

Stinging nettles themselves are the greatest cure that I have found for their sting. When you get stung, break open the stem of the stinging nettle (wearing gloves is advisable unless you're okay with more stings... ), and rub the stinging nettle juice that is in the middle of the stem over the sting. Somehow, the antidote to the sting of the stinging nettle appears to be within the nettle itself. It works a lot better than docks in my experience, which I consider to be purely placebo cures.

Stinging Nettles User Reviews
Posted by Diane (Fort St John, Canada) on 08/06/2009

Cure for stinging nettles: the antadote for the stinging nettles grows right beside it, next time you see a bunch of stinging nettles look for the plant with the BIG leaves that are right with the stinging nettles, and rub it on your skin, i come from ireland and we called these plants "dockings"....i have known this since i was a little girl...

EC: Here's a old nettles and dock leaves rhyme, as referenced in "A Modern Herbal" (1931) by Mrs. M. Grieve:

'Nettle in, dock out.
Dock rub nettle out!'

Stinging Nettles User Reviews
Posted by Don (Southwest, Michigan, USA) on 10/05/2008

My farm is full of stinging nettle and we are always getting into it. If you don't know, it leaves an itchy rash similar to poison ivy except that it burns. The more you rub it the worse it gets and the more it burns. Washing with soaps, oils or other folklore have never worked for us. But I discovered something that does work.

I was working a back field on a very hot day and got my forarms into a bunch of stinging nettle. It was itching and burning terribly. Out of desperation I bent down and got a handful of dry powdery dirt and sprinkled a heavy amount onto my forearms. I felt INSTANT RELIEF. I shook off most of the dirt leaving a powder coat. It took me about 15 minutes to get to the house and when I washed the remaining dirt off the burning and rash were gone. We have all used this method many times since and it works everytime. I hope it works for you.

Best Wishes, Don

Stinging Nettles User Reviews
Posted by Jami (Norton, Suffolk, United Kingdom) on 08/27/2007

We live in a region where Stinging Nettles are plentyful. I remembered a old 4-H camp trick that helps dry the Nettles out. Use Epsom Salt. You can make a paste and apply it on the sting. I usually fill a sink up and throw in a cup of Epsom salt into the basin. If you have it all over you body, the best method is to take a warm bath and dissolve 2cups of Epsom Salt in the bath water.