We are currently in the midst of the Coronavirus global pandemic and I’m here to help provide you with blog posts related to self-care tips and the amazing natural remedies we have available to us! When we feel threatened by a looming virus that we can’t necessarily control, we have to focus on what we CAN control, by nurturing our body’s immune system & feeding our body with essential nutrients. Sometimes, a crisis leads us to forming a better understanding of what our bodies need in order to heal and to function optimally.
For some inspiring and hopefully helpful 🤗 Self-care & Wellness tips, you won’t want to miss my most recent posts: 5 Essential Self-care Tools to Help You Find Your Inner Zen at Home!
In this time of crisis, it’s more important than ever to find balance, keep ourselves as healthy as possible by boosting our immune systems, getting adequate sleep, & continuing to move our bodies on a daily basis. I know how hard it can be to practice ongoing social-distancing in order to flatten the curve, but it’s the most important thing we can do to stop this virus and to keep our families safe!
I’ll be posting different blog topics that relate to all of the above to keep you motivated to take one day at a time, to the best of your ability! I’m here for you all, as we’re all in this together! I’m currently living in the epicenter of where the coronavirus is, in NJ, so believe me when I say, I understand your fears and I’m here to post helpful articles to inspire you to keep moving forward, doing the best that we can for ourselves and the people we love! Be sure to subscribe to my email list at the bottom of this post so that you don’t miss any new posts!
What is Stinging Nettle?
Stinging Nettle goes by a few different names, which can be a little confusing at first 🤷♀️. Stinging nettle is also known as Nettle Leaf, Nettle Tea, Nettles, & Nettle Extract, which comes in the form of tinctures, loose-leaf teas, and capsules of the dry herb. I was first introduced to this absolutely amazing herb from the owner of Earthwise Beauty, Ava, whom now offers the most exquisite line of hand-selected, pristine teas that offer various health benefits. I had NO idea what I had been missing all of these years until I started drinking two cups of Nettle Tea each day. On days that I can’t consume the tea, I supplement with the capsule form of the dry herb.
After first looking into it, I discovered that Nettle Leaf is widely popular as a home remedy in Europe and is actually a household staple, but not so much in America, as our healthcare system doesn’t focus on natural remedies. Unless we do research on our own or are recommended to try a natural approach, we often overlook what Nature has in store for us and what Nature can provide!
Stinging Nettle has been used throughout ancient times and after I give you the list of Health Benefits and how this amazing herb can enhance the quality of your life in a myriad of ways, you’ll understand WHY and how it’s withstood the test of time! Ancient Egyptians historically used stinging nettle to treat arthritis and lower back pain, while Roman troops were purported to have rubbed the herb on their skin to keep warm in cold weather. After doing a lot of research on Stinging Nettle, it makes a lot of sense that this plant would be used for arthritis and back pain, due to its impressive anti-inflammatory properties! Nettle is actually still recommended as a natural remedy in alternative medicine for chronic joint pain for this very reason 👍.
You might wonder why it’s called “Stinging Nettle“, which sounds kind of scary! Its scientific name, Urtica dioica, comes from the Latin word uro, which means “to burn,” because its leaves can cause a temporary burning sensation upon contact, hence the term “stinging” in the name. The leaves have hair-like structures that sting and also produce itching, redness and swelling upon contact with the skin. Don’t get too freaked out by this!
Don’t worry! Once Nettle is dried/freeze-dried & processed into a supplement, or cooked/steeped in boiling water to make a tea, stinging nettle can be safely consumed without any form of burning/itching mentioned above 👍. Scientific studies link it to a number of potential health benefits and I’m going to paraphrase these benefits for you all in one place👌! 👇
Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle:
IMMUNE BOOSTING PROPERTIES:
Stinging Nettle is chock-full of nutrients that break down as antioxidants in the body to kickstart one’s immune system! The word “antioxidants” gets thrown around quite a lot and I think many people don’t really understand how antioxidants work in the body and why they are SO powerful/vital to a balanced, thriving immune system. Antioxidants are so important to our overall health because they are molecules that defend the body’s cells against oxidative stress from free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for premature aging, cancer, and a plethora of other diseases.
Where do free radicals come from? Free radicals wreak havoc & flourish where oxidative stress is present: in environmental pollution, processed foods, toxic/conventional makeup & Skincare/bodycare items, cleaning products with harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, medications, cigarettes, recreational drugs, etc. Free radicals are produced in the body from consuming or being exposed to chemicals. Combating free radicals is ESSENTIAL to overall health and wellness, in order to keep widespread inflammation at bay. Scientific studies have proven that stinging nettle can raise levels of antioxidants in the blood! The higher levels of antioxidants you have in your body, the more equipped your body is to fight off free radicals and overall oxidative stress👌.
To aid in immune boosting properties, nettle tea contains an incredible lineup of vitamins and minerals that I’ll go into a bit more detail below. Some of these immune boosting compounds include flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins A & C. These antioxidants help protect immune cells against damage that can weaken immune function by strengthening the immune response and encouraging healthy immune cell formation. Scientists have found that this plant in particular, stimulates the T-cells of the immune system, which help to fight infection and other pathogens that cause diseases in the body.
NUTRIENTS IN STINGING NETTLE:
Additionally, Nettle Leaf/Extract is high in Vitamins A, C, K, & several B vitamins. Nettle is high in the following minerals: iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, & sodium. Nettle also contains healthy fats: linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, & oleic acid. Nettle contains all of the essential amino acids and polyphenols such as: quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins, kaempferol, & other flavonoids. Lastly, Nettle contains carotenoids, Beta-carotene, lutein, & luteoxanthin.
All of the above nutrients are vital to maintaining balance within the body to prevent oxidative stress, to prevent free radicals from proliferating within the body and wreaking havoc on one’s immune system, which causes widespread inflammation; the underlying root of ALL diseases. Alternative Medicine strives to address the ROOT cause of dis-ease and stress on the overall body. Nettle is just one of many amazing examples to illustrate how keeping our bodies healthy on the inside will keep disease and physical distress at bay!
Inflammation is the body’s initial way of defending itself against harmful disturbances, viruses it comes into contact with, diseases, and trying to maintain its overall homeostasis. The issue is when this inflammation becomes chronic because the initial trigger that caused the inflammation was not addressed, so the body maintains a chronic, ongoing state of inflammation, which weakens the immune system, thus leaving a person more vulnerable to colds, viruses, auto-immune diseases, and ongoing diseases such as cancer. An example of an initial trigger might be consuming a food group that your body doesn’t agree with, known as a food intolerance, which can be tricky to really pinpoint (as opposed to a food allergy, which has immediate negative reactions). A trigger can also be chronic stress, lack of physical activity, smoking, drinking alcohol, an unhealthy gut lining/acid ratio, etc.
Stinging Nettle has strong anti-inflammatory properties because it contains a variety of anti-inflammatory compounds and studies have found this to be true in both animal and human studies with results that confirmed stinging nettle reduced levels of multiple inflammatory hormones by interfering with their production. Applying a topical cream and/or consuming nettle was also found to reduce symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions that cause pain. This is why Nettle Leaf is strongly recommended for the relief of chronic joint pain in naturopathic medicine, however, more human studies are needed to confirm this in Western medicine.
Nettle leaf also has muscle pain-relieving properties due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain reducing) properties, which have been used throughout history to treat sore muscles as well as sore, stiff joints. A study in Germany found that taking nettles in addition to an NSAID medication (ie: ibuprofen or aspirin), the combination boosted the overall effectiveness of the NSAID medication, most likely due to enhancing the anti-inflammatory properties. A different study for osteoarthritis found that taking a supplement of nettle leaf reduced the participants’ pain symptoms enough to no longer need their usual anti-inflammatory pain medication!
Due to the high concentration of naturally occurring calcium, which fortifies the bones in our bodies, in addition to magnesium, vitamins D, K, & iron, nettle tea has everything you need to protect bone density and support overall bone health as well as bone strength. All of these elements and vitamins work together to keep bones from weakening and interfering with daily tasks. Magnesium is actually stored in the bones, so its necessary to fuel our bodies with enough magnesium to aid in the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for bone strength. This is why low magnesium has been linked to osteoporosis, which is a chronic condition of weak/fragile bones. Iron deficiency is also associated with bone loss and is another reason why nettle can help fortify the body with vital iron.
Stinging Nettle may help reduce prostate size and treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland in men with BPH (An enlarged prostate is commonly called benign prostatic hyperplasia–BPH for short). This is why Stinging Nettle is recommended for men to assist with short and long-term urination problems related to an enlarged prostate gland.
Due to all of the vitamins and minerals mentioned throughout this post so far, as well as the anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory properties, nettle leaf also contains anti-microbial properties! Nettle leaf has a long history of treating chronic skin conditions such as eczema & acne. It reduces redness and swelling, while reducing pain, itchiness, reducing scarring, and speeding up wound healing. Studies say that you can either drink the tea for these effects or brew the tea and apply topically to affected areas once the tea has cooled. I would personally try both! Brew the tea, pour a small amount out to apply topically, as needed, and drink the rest that’s been untouched! This way you’re not wasting any leftovers, because you would have to brew it each night to use it this way. I wouldn’t store it in the fridge for longer than 24 hours since there is no preservative.
SEASONAL ALLERGY RELIEF:
Stinging Nettle has some promising pre-liminary research stating that it may be beneficial at reducing seasonal allergies by blocking histamine receptors and stopping immune cells from releasing chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms & hay fever. In its natural state, stinging nettle can cause an allergic reaction, BUT, when brewed as a tea, nettles may help soothe allergies because the plant extract inhibits inflammatory reactions that lead to the symptoms of seasonal allergies. In a randomized trial, 48% of participants in a double-blind study stated that nettles were more effective for their allergy symptoms and overall relief than their standard allergy medications that are available on the market today!
LOWERING HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE & INCREASING HEART HEALTH:
Stinging nettle may help lower blood pressure by allowing your blood vessels to relax and reducing the force of your heart’s contractions. Yet, more human studies are needed to confirm these effects. A striking amount of 1/3rd of Americans have high blood pressure, which is a major health concern because high blood pressure is linked to heart disease & strokes, which are the leading major causes of death in the United States. Nettle may stimulate nitric oxide production, which acts as a vasodilator, which serve to relax the muscles of your blood vessels, helping them widen. Additionally, stinging nettle has compounds that may act as calcium channel blockers, which relax one’s heart by reducing the force of contractions. In several animal studies, stinging nettle has been shown to lower blood pressure levels while raising the heart’s antioxidant defenses, which gives promise to the same effects occurring in humans, as well.
LOWER BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS:
Nettle has been found in both animal and human studies to lower blood sugar levels due to the plant’s compounds that may mimic the effects of insulin. In one study, the participants took 500mg of stinging nettle extract in capsule form, three times daily for three months, and the participants who took the herb had significantly lowered blood sugar levels in comparison to the placebo group. More research is necessary, however, these results are very promising!
Lastly, due to the high antioxidants & antioxidant properties found in Stinging Nettle, this herb has been found to contribute to overall Liver Health by supporting the liver’s ability to flush toxins & heavy metals in the body, thus reducing overall inflammation. Liver health is crucial in enabling our bodies to rid itself of disease and keep our hormones balanced, while maintaining overall homeostasis within our bodies. Anything we can do to support the liver is vital in giving our immune systems a MAJOR boost!
Remember we talked about how widespread inflammation wreaks havoc on the body and the body’s immune response? Well, here’s another important link relating to inflammation and gut health that is VITAL to a person’s overall wellbeing! Excessive and chronic inflammation can interfere with healthy digestion, which creates an environment for the growth of harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Regularly consuming nettle tea with its immense anti-inflammatory properties, can significantly help regulate your digestion, help reduce constipation, diarrhea, and an upset stomach. When our gut is supplied with a healthy balance of bacteria and other microbes, known as the stomach’s microbiome, you will get the most widespread protection against other diseases. In fact, in alternative medicine, the gut’s microbiome is considered to be associated with every major disease from cancer to autism! I plan to dedicate a whole blog post to this important topic!
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Side Effects and Potential Contraindications:
Pregnant women should AVOID consuming stinging nettle because it may trigger uterine contractions, which can raise the risk of a miscarriage. This is also one of the reasons that Nettle is sometimes recommended to assist in starting a late period, because it can trigger these uterine contractions that bring about one’s period if it’s a few days late. If you’re anything like me, I get awful period cramps, back aches, and migraines before my period, so when it’s late, I try to get it moving along so I don’t have to be in agony while I wait for it to come. I am NOT pregnant or planning to become pregnant, so when I consume nettle regularly, my period cycle is very regular, I’ve found, after using this herb regularly for 1.5 years.
*Speak to your doctor before consuming stinging nettle if you’re taking one of the following medications:
- Blood thinners
- Blood pressure medication
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Diabetes medication
Stinging nettle could potentially interact with these medications. It’s best to ask your doctor if you’re taking the above medications, just to be safe.
How to Consume Nettle:
Stinging nettle is an incredibly versatile herb! It can be cooked in stews and soups, brewed as an herbal tea, applied as an ointment and taken as a supplement. It can be purchased in many health food stores, but you can also grow it yourself if you have an herb garden (that’s one of my goals!). You can buy dried/freeze-dried leaves, capsules, tinctures and creams. For example, Stinging nettle ointments are often used topically to ease osteoarthritis symptoms for pain relief. As I write this post, we’re currently in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, so we’re doing our best to not leave the house at all (except to go outside on nice days with my son in our backyard). Even before this crisis, I got all of my nettle in various forms online, which I’ll link below! 👇
The dried leaves and flowers can be steeped to make a delicious herbal tea, which is what got me started on my LOVE of all things Nettle! The leaves, stem and roots can be cooked and added to soups, stews, smoothies and stir-fry dishes. However, avoid eating FRESH leaves, as their “barbs” can cause irritation whether you are using it internally OR topically (hence the name Stinging Nettle, but don’t worry, as long as it’s dried, don’t be afraid to touch it and use it with the above methods!).
Currently, there is no actual recommended dosage for stinging nettle products, so I’ll put down below what studies have listed for their optimal dosage to see results. I personally aim to drink at least two cups of the fresh brewed tea every day and I put a HEAPING tablespoon to brew a small pot with my favorite glass tea kettle for loose leaf tea with the tea steeper built into the kettle to make it super easy to brew and clean. THIS is my favorite one after doing tons of research online and reading online reviews like a maniac. When I can’t drink the actual tea, I take one 500mg organic capsule every day that are completely free from any harmful fillers.
This is what the two biggest studies suggest for the following doses that are considered most effective for certain conditions:
- Enlarged prostate gland: 360 mg of root extract per day
- Allergies: 600 mg of freeze-dried leaves per day
***As a disclaimer, If you buy a stinging nettle supplement, it’s always best to speak to your doctor and/or pharmacist to ensure that any medication/s you are taking won’t be affected by the inclusion of nettle.
I honestly feel that Nettle really helped get my body back into some form of balance after having my son and I truly wish I had known about this amazing herb when I first started having symptoms of hypothyroidism, IBS, and ultimately Hashimoto’s disease in my early 20’s (13 years ago now). When I first gave birth to my son and for the first 2 years of his life, I would literally wake up to pee at least 3-4 times during the night (and I was only sleeping an average of 6 hours a night!), so for years, I never slept for longer than 2 hour stretches because my bladder would feel like it was going to burst, as if I hadn’t peed in days. I believe this was due to my bladder not releasing all of the urine that had built up in my system, so even when I was going to the bathroom to pee, I was only emptying my bladder 50% of the way, which is why I had to constantly pee SO often throughout the night and during the day (it was just slightly less annoying during the day to deal with). Once I started a regular routine of making Nettle a regular part of my herbal medicine, I started sleeping for 5 hour stretches, waking up to pee once or twice in the night. Now, 1.5 years later, its as normal as its ever been in years! My bladder, in general, feels like it’s doing its job as efficiently as possible, which means less trips to the bathroom for me and longer stretches of sleep at night!
I also have chronically low levels of iron, so I’ve been battling iron deficiency and anemia for years. My numbers didn’t start changing for the better until I made Nettle a regular part of my daily routine of herbal supplements. I was also dealing with chronic nausea and difficulty swallowing pills. My throat would just close up and I had zero appetite, would force myself to eat for fuel of some kind, and had to stop myself from vomiting up my thyroid medications every morning while caring for my son, who was a young toddler at the time. A few months after drinking two cups of nettle tea daily, as well as supplementing with the herb in capsule form, my nausea gradually faded and my appetite became normal again.
I also have a lot of chronic joint pain, which I address with daily yoga/stretching, and keeping my core as strong as possible. But, even with these measures, I still have degenerative disc disease in my neck, with bulging discs down the left side of my neck. And, my lower back starts to really feel it where all those nerves gather at the top of one’s bottom. To top it off, I suffer from chronic migraines (I know, I’m a mess, but this at least allows me to have the motivation to research how to address chronic ailments for all of you in a holistic way😅!). While I can’t say that my migraines are completely gone and I have no pain whatsoever, I will say that the pain I do experience is manageable, responds to medication when I need it, and sometimes, that’s the biggest step in getting past the hard parts. Once our situation becomes manageable, then we can take further steps to address it👍.
Herbal remedies are wonderful at supplementing the body and getting it through a crisis or chronic disease, however, there is no “cure all” remedy that will completely eliminate all of one’s woes. Sometimes, we just need HELP! And for ALL of the reasons listed above (which really only scratch the surface), Nettle offers amazing potential at providing relief and HELP when aiming to support our bodies, boost our immune systems, and keep our systems thriving!
WHERE TO BUY:
If you’re looking for the absolute BEST of the best in loose leaf tea that is carefully selected & sourced through fair-trade measures, I highly recommend the Nettle Tea and herbal tea lineup from Earthwise Beauty, which singlehandedly paved the road for me to the amazing benefits of herbal teas. I LOVE that Nettle is so mild in flavor that you can drink it plain with a bit of organic, unrefined honey or you can drink it without any sweetener at all since it’s so smooth and mild. It also makes the perfect base for adding other herbs, such as lavender, lemon balm, & Spearmint(✨click on any of the hyperlinks to see which brand of these herbs I trust✨). During the warmer months, I love brewing a big batch of Nettle Iced tea with dried Lavender & Spearmint😍👌! (As a side note, Spearmint is purported to be a natural remedy for hormonal acne in women–I’m currently testing this and will be doing a full blog review!) That’s the fun of loose-leaf tea: it gives you the freedom to be creative and explore different herbs/tastes that you might just fall in love with!
You can also get a large bag of organic loose leaf nettle tea and after doing a lot of research, I tried this brand (You have to be careful when ordering things like this on Amazon, as they have little to no regulation with their third party sellers and not all sellers are honest with their descriptions and where they sourced their teas), but if money is tight and you can’t afford the trusted Earthwise Beauty Nettle Tea, then I would go with this option.
Don’t miss my Wellness and Self-care Series to help us all get through this health crisis together!
For some inspiring and hopefully helpful 🤗 Self-care & Wellness tips, you won’t want to miss my most recent posts: 5 Essential Self-care Tools to Help You Find Your Inner Zen at Home!
For more Immune Boosting Tips: Check out my posts 👇
I hope you’ve found this post to be helpful and informative! In times like this, filled with uncertainty, we can build on our strengths with what we can control: nurturing our body, mind, & spirit. One day at a time! 🙏💞✨
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Love & Light,