Herbal Medicine Benefits of Stinging Nettle
My first experience with stinging nettle was less than fun. Several years ago I was in Ireland walking along the edge of a parking lot. The back of my left hand brushed against a plant and it instantly began to sting. A bumpy, itchy rash broke out on my hand. At the time, I didn’t know what the plant was. I was confused why the plant existed at all (hah!), especially right where people walked. Fortunately, the reaction calmed down after a while and completely disappeared after a few hours.
Fast forward a few years to the present where I highly value herbal medicine. Here I am using the photo I took to “identify this awful plant later” in a blog post detailing its benefits. I appreciate the irony!
When needed, I benefit from take stinging nettle capsules internally to manage allergy symptoms.
Nettle capsules can help reduce sneezing and itching in people with hay fever. In one study, 57% of patients rated nettles as effective in relieving allergies, and 48% said that nettles were more effective than allergy medications they had used previously. This may be due to nettle’s ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen. 
Stinging nettle has fine hairs on the leaves and stems that contain irritating chemicals, which are released when the plant comes in contact with the skin. The hairs, or spines, of the stinging nettle are normally very painful to the touch. When they come into contact with an area of the body that is already in pain, they can actually decrease the original pain. Nettle may reduce levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body and interfere with the way the body transmits pain signals. It has been used topically to treat arthritis and relieve sore muscles.  Another study showed that taking a supplement that contained stinging nettle extract significantly reduced arthritis pain. 
So, is your physical pain so bad that you’re willing to try an uncomfortable topical application of stinging nettle? Maybe; fortunately, stinging nettle’s anti-inflammatory benefits still apply when the herb is taking internally rather than applied topically. There are also other herbs that are effective at lessening symptoms of pain, like California poppy.
Stinging nettle may also help lower blood pressure by allowing your blood vessels to relax and reducing the force of your heart’s contractions. 
Stinging nettle contains many nutrients, many of which act as antioxidants inside your body, which help defend your cells against damage from free radicals :
- Vitamins: Vitamins A, C and K, as well as several B vitamins
- Minerals: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium
- Fats: Linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid
- Amino acids: All of the essential amino acids
- Polyphenols: Kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins and other flavonoids
- Pigments: Beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin and other carotenoids
If you decide to grow stinging nettle, I would recommend choosing an area where people do not walk by often. You should also wear gloves when harvesting stinging nettle.
If you would rather purchase stinging nettle, you can buy it in the form of capsules.
I hope you enjoy stinging nettle as much as I do!
 Penn State Hershey. (2017, January 1). Stinging nettle. In Penn State Hershey. Retrieved from http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000275
 Raman, Ryan, MS, RD. (2018, November 21). 6 Evidence-Based Benefits of Stinging Nettle. In Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/stinging-nettle