Urtica dioica

The stinging nettle or common nettle is a herbaceous shrub that grows to 1m (3ft) in height. The finely toothed, heart-shaped leaves are elliptical and alternate. The tiny green-white flowers are incomplete and several types of flower maybe found on a single stem. The entire plant, but especially the leaves, is covered in stinging hairs.

Family: Urticaceae

Which probiotic is it in?: Nettle is a key herb in Sustain.

Habit and cultivation: Mostly considered a weed that grows everywhere. Preferring nitrogen rich soil, it flowers from June to September.

Actions (known for): Leaf: anti-rheumatic, anti-allergic, depurative, styptic (haemostatic). Root: anti-prostatic.


Recorded for its medicinal properties since between1570-1200 BC. The troops of Julius Caesar rubbed themselves with nettles to keep awake during prolonged difficult campaigns. It has also been used as a textile, for making rope and fishing nets.

Parts used:

Whole plant and root.

Constituents (bio available chemicals):

Leaf: still not defined but does contain: Flavonoids, amines, silicic acid and rich in chlorophyll. Root: Lignans, sterols (sitosterol), hydroxyfatty acids, lectins and fatty alcohols.

Nutritional constituents:

Vitamins: A, B2, C, E, K. Fresh leaf contains B1. Minerals: calcium, potassium salts, silicic acid, iron, manganese and copper.


Leaf: Hay fever, dermatitis, urticaria, osteoarthritis, rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis. Topically: wounds, ulcers and eczema. Root: Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and chronic prostitis.


Leaf: Liquid extract (1:2): 15-40ml per week. Fresh tops can be cooked (as a soup) and eaten as nutritious vegetable leaf. Root: Liquid extract (1:2): 30-60ml per week.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia

Cautions for therapeutic doses

The nettle can cause an allergic weal if stung. For a minority this can be severe. Cannot sting after being dried or cooked.

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