Nettle – a Medicinal Plant for the Bladder and Prostate
Many people know nettles as unloved weeds. Almost all of us have already made acquaintance with their painfully stinging hairs. But the Great Nettle (Urtica dioica) is much more than a weed. It provides food for the caterpillars of rare moths, can be used in the kitchen and is used as a medicinal plant. Read more about stinging nettle and how it works against bladder and prostate problems here.
Occurrence and Distribution of Nettles
The Great Nettle (Urtica dioica) belongs to the family of nettle plants (Urticaceae). It occurs almost continuously throughout the northern hemisphere: in Europe, Asia, Canada, the US and parts of Central America. The Arctic and tropical regions are excluded.
It grows wherever there is plenty of nitrogen in the soil. Therefore, it is also considered an indicator of nutrient-rich soils. You can find them in woodlands, at the edges of roads and also often in gardens. In ornamental and vegetable gardens, it is often underestimated, as it burns when touched and can spread quickly by runners. However, some garden owners deliberately leave stinging nettles in some places, so that they can serve as food for insects or so that the leaves can be prepared as a spinach or salad.
Appearance of Nettles
Almost everyone knows the stinging nettle. It is a herbaceous perennial plant. The Great Nettle (Urtica dioica) can grow to over three metres in nutrient-rich soil and a good location. Mostly, however, it only grows to between 50 and 150 centimetres in height.
The leaves are strikingly serrated and can grow up to 20 centimetres long. The stems and leaves have a peculiarity that gave the plant its name: there you will find the infamous siliceous stinging hairs. It usually bloom from the end of June until October. The Great Nettle is dioecious. This means that there are female and male plants. The inconspicuous flower spikes of both sexes are similar. The male flowers are rather yellowish and stand horizontally from the plant, while female plants have drooping whitish panicles.
Despite its stinging hairs, it is versatile
The nettle protects against predators with its stinging hairs. These specialised hairs are tubular, brittle and have a predetermined breaking point. Upon contact with the stinging hair, it breaks off and leaves a sharp break point, which resembles the tip of a medical cannula under the microscope. This penetrates the skin and injects its burning fluid into the wound. This contains, among other things, acids and histamine. This causes burning, itching and the formation of wheals on the human skin.
Nevertheless, the nettle is used by animals and humans. Various caterpillars feed on it. Butterflies, such as the small tortoiseshell and the peacock butterfly, are even exclusively dependent on the Great Nettle as a forage plant. But for us humans, the nettle represents a healthy extension to our diet. If you dry or steam the leaves, or process the fresh leaves by rolling with a rolling pin, they no longer sting. The plant is cooked as nettle spinach, eaten raw in a salad or prepared as nettle soup. The seeds are even considered to be a super food because of the vitamin content.
In the garden, especially in natural gardens, the nettles are known as a useful tonic and fertiliser for plants. Pickled stinging nettle plants are left to seep in water for a few days and poured over vegetables and other crops. The silicic acid they contain protects against pest infestation and strengthens the plants. In many places, nettles are also grown in large quantities: oil can be extracted from their seeds. The cosmetics industry uses them as an addition to shampoo and hair tonic to stimulate the circulation of the scalp.
Nettle Ingredients and Their Effects
Medically, both the root and the aerial parts are used. For nettle tea, extracts and remedies, we use nettle leaves (Urticae folium), herb (Urticae herba) or nettle root (Urticae radix). The leaves contain flavonoids, such as rutin, various organic acids, phytohormones, vitamins (for example vitamin C), potassium, iron and essential oils. The flavonoids have a mild diuretic effect. Therefore, nettle tea will be used, for example, in the onset of cystitis.
The nettle roots have a different effect. Studies show that extracts from the roots can facilitate urination in men with a benign enlargement of the prostate gland. The phytohormone content is probably crucial for this effect.
Medicinal Application of Nettle Extracts
In the application of nettle as a medicinal plant, there are two important applications: the nettle leaves are used for bladder problems, while the roots of the plant facilitate urination in benign enlargements of the prostate.
In addition, the plant is used internally and also externally for rheumatic diseases. Traditionally and in alternative medicine, it is still used for other applications in and on the body, the effect of which, however, is not clearly proven in studies.
Nettle Leaves and Herb Against Cystitis
Due to their shorter urethra, through which pathogens can more easily ascend, women are more often affected by bladder infections than men. A nettle tea made from fresh or dried leaves has long been used preventively in the onset of cystitis. Meanwhile, it has been scientifically proven that the ingredients of the medicinal plant have a diuretic and probably also an anti-inflammatory effect. As a nettle tea or extract, the leaves of the medicinal plant can therefore prevent or relieve cystitis when used at an early stage.
Nettle Root Extracts for Prostate Problems
In men, the size of the prostate gland often increases with increasing age. If the prostate expands, it can narrow the urethra. This causes problems with urination. The urinary stream becomes weaker or "dribbles". Sometimes sufferers also feel that the bladder is not completely empty after urination. In addition, there are often irritations of the bladder with frequent, often also nocturnal urination.
Herbal medicines with nettle root extracts can help in such cases and facilitate urination. And they do so without side effects for sexual activity. Prostatonin®, with a combination of the root of the Great Nettle (Urtica dioica) and an extract of the African plum tree (Pygeum africanum) has proven particularly useful in these cases.
Please note: Even herbal medicines can have unwanted side effects. Please read the package insert and talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you require further information.