Common Nettle

Urtica dioica

Common Nettle grows up to 1.5 metres in height. Nettle flourishes in nitrogen-rich soils and can be found in urban wastelands, parks and undisturbed corners of the city.

Its leaves are arranged in opposite pairs with serrate margins that are covered with stinging hairs. These hairs contain irritating histamine. The name Urtica comes from urere, which in Latin means ‘to burn’.

The young leaves can be eaten after being steamed or cooked.

Traditional uses
  • Nettle can be used as a diuretic for kidney inflammation1
  • The plant can be used to treat chronic bladder infections1
  • Nettle can also relieve symptoms of gout and rheumatic pains1
  • Externally nettle can be used to relieve sores and skin inflammation1
  • Anti-inflammatory activity2,3–6,7 (in-vitro and in-vivo)
  • There is some clinical evidence for the effectiveness of Nettle root in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia2
How it can be used
  • Internally Nettle can be used in therapy for inflammatory diseases of the lower urinary tract3
  • A tea infusion of the root can be used for the symptomatic relief of benign prostatic hyperplasia3,7,8
  • Use only young leaves as older ones are toxic for the kidney9
  • There could be a negative interaction with allopathic drugs for diabetes mellits, hypertension and with central nervous system depression drugs9
  • Avoid if pregnant or while breastfeeding
The information provided here is only intended to augment people's awareness and knowledge of the properties and uses of some plants. This information is not intended to substitute advice from a physician and is not a substitute for professional medical care. The authors do not recommend collecting and using wild plants from an urban environment as these can be contaminated by several types of pollutants that are harmful to human health.

Although references are provided and information has been compiled with care, errors may be present. The remedies listed here should not be used without prior consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. The authors are not responsible for any adverse effect or consequences resulting from the use of the information published in this website.
  • In vitro evidence: evidence from studies using isolated components of living organisms such as cells or purified molecules
  • In vivo evidence: evidence from studies with whole living organisms
  • Clinical trial evidence: evidence from clinical trials conducted with humans
  1. Foster, S. & Hobbs, C. A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002).
  2. Chrubasik, J. E., Roufogalis, B. D., Wagner, H. & Chrubasik, S. A comprehensive review on the stinging nettle effect and efficacy profiles. Part II: urticae radix. Phytomedicine 14, 568–579 (2007).
  3. Chrubasik, J. E., Roufogalis, B. D., Wagner, H. & Chrubasik, S. A. A comprehensive review on nettle effect and efficacy profiles, Part I: herba urticae. Phytomedicine 14, 423–435 (2007).
  4. Obertreis, B., Giller, K., Teucher, T., Behnke, B. & Schmitz, H. [Anti-inflammatory effect of Urtica dioica folia extract in comparison to caffeic malic acid]. Arzneimittelforschung 46, 52–56 (1996).
  5. Obertreis, B., Ruttkowski, T., Teucher, T., Behnke, B. & Schmitz, H. Ex-vivo in-vitro inhibition of lipopolysaccharide stimulated tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-1 beta secretion in human whole blood by extractum urticae dioicae foliorum. Arzneimittelforschung 46, 389–394 (1996).
  6. Teucher, T., Obertreis, B., Ruttkowski, T. & Schmitz, H. [Cytokine secretion in whole blood of healthy subjects following oral administration of Urtica dioica L. plant extract]. Arzneimittelforschung 46, 906–910 (1996).
  7. European Medcines Agency. Assessment report on Urtica dioica L., Urtica urens L., folium. (2011).
  8. Blumenthal, M., Ph.D, W. R. B. & Goldberg, A. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. (Elsevier Health Sciences, 1999).
  9. Urtica dioica Stinging Nettle PFAF Plant Database. at <>
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