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Where Tradition Meets the Lab: Nettles

The Cabinet — 05.01.20
by Elena Sheppard

Nettles are often called Stinging Nettles, and if you’ve ever frolicked through a beautiful field only to emerge with an itchy rash, you probably are already well acquainted with them. To give you a slightly deeper introduction, nettles are a flowering plant found all over the world.

When ingested (in the proper way, mind you) they are good for you. More than that, they’re one of the most-commonly used medicinal plants in the world. 

The History

Nettles are an herbaceous, perennial, flowering plant and are native to many different areas around the world including North America, northern Africa, Europe, and Asia. Nettles have been used as both a remedy and a food source for thousands of years. The ancient Roman troops were said to have rubbed Nettle on themselves to help stay warm, while Ancient Egyptians used them to treat arthritis and lower back pain. Not to mention, Nettles have been eaten for centuries.

While Nettles are still commonly used to treat many ails, their properties that support healthy nasal passageways come in very handy during allergy season. 

The Benefits 

Nettles have been found to contain antihistamines which are a critical defense against the body’s natural response to pollen and other allergens. Additionally, their high nutritional value is part of what has made them such a popular food source—Nettles are a great source of iron, calcium, Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, manganese, and carotenoids. Dried Nettle leaves are also sometimes used in teas for expectant or nursing mothers. 

Nettles also have a few other unexpected healing properties such as helping to stop bleeding, enhance prostate health, and relieve gout and joint pain. 

The Science

The scientific name for Nettles is Urtica Dioica, which comes from the Latin uro, meaning to burn. This of course is an homage to the burning sensation caused on the skin if you touch these plants. It’s once the plant has been cooked, dried, or processed into a supplement that it is safe to consume. 

The way that Nettles work in alleviating hay fever symptoms is by inhibiting inflammation that can be a trigger for seasonal allergies. This is done by blocking histamine receptors, stopping immune cells from releasing the chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms, as well as COX-1 and COX-enzymes associated with inflammation.  

Footnotes

  1. WebMD 
  2. Healthline
  3. Phytotherapy Research

This information is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a physician before treating any disorder.

 

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