Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica in Latin, also closely related to Urtica urens) has quite a long medicinal history. In the medieval Europe, it was used as a diuretic (to get rid of the excess water in the body) and to treat joint pain. The stinging nettle was used in the ancient times for centuries owing to its numerous medicinal properties.
The leaves and stems of the stinging nettle have long stinging hairs that inject an array of chemicals on touching, such as histamine, formic acid, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
This reaction of the chemicals produces an irritating and uncomfortable sensation in the skin, which is also the reason for the other common names for stinging nettle – burn weed and burn nettle. However, after boiling these stems and leaves, or extracting the oils, the stinging substances become neutralized and you can use the plant for its numerous medicinal benefits.
The leaves of stinging nettle are generally brewed and used as tea, which contains most of the essential nutrients and provides great health benefits. However, you can also apply the plant topically, in the form of its oil extract, which provides the same benefits.
In the ancient Greek times, stinging nettle was mainly used as a diuretic and a laxative. However, now the plant is employed for numerous other illnesses such as cancer, asthma, hypertension, kidney stones, skin problems, inflammation, bleeding, nausea, diabetes mellitus, respiratory tract diseases, diarrhoea, osteoarthritis, gastrointestinal diseases, IBS, constipation, Alzheimer’s disease, enlarged spleen, endocrine disorders, stomach acid, etc.
Stinging nettle has been known since centuries as a powerful natural diuretic substance and found great use in the ancient herbal medicines. But it also affects the kidneys in a lot of other different ways. Stinging nettle possesses nephritic qualities, which means that it can help to break down the stones in the kidney and gallbladder. Hence, it prevents those painful conditions from becoming worse or requiring those stones to be passed or surgically removed.
As a diuretic, stinging nettle aids in the quick elimination of toxins, thereby protecting you against the problems of bladder infections and excess fluid retention (oedema).
It is very vital for your kidney and gallbladder. However, despite the fact that stinging nettle is a mild natural diuretic, it has been found in some of the cases that the tea reportedly caused water retention, contrary to its properties. Stinging Nettles has anti-inflammatory properties and hence widely used to treat illnesses of the urinary track. The best way to drink stinging nettle tea is early in the morning and before your breakfast.
You should be aware of the possible interactions of stinging nettle with the drugs you are already taking. As stinging nettle acts as a diuretic, it can increase the effects of the drugs having diuretic mode of action and thus raise the risk of dehydration.
So, if you are taking any of the drugs from among Furosemide (Lasix) and Hydrocholorothiazide, you should consult a physician to alter the dosage. This will allow you to consume the stinging nettle without running the risk of dehydration.