Stinging nettle has tiny hair-like structures all over its leaves and stems, that cause extremely painful stings. The roots and leaves of this plant contain several compounds that possess medicinal properties. The leaves of the plant contain quercetin, which is a flavonoid that inhibits the release of histamine from the cells, thereby preventing allergies. Furthermore, a phytosterol called beta-Sitosterol is also present in the leaves of this plant, which helps to lower cholesterol and also helps in treating enlarged prostate. Though the health benefits are numerous, there are some side effects associated with its use.
The leaves and roots of this plant are covered with small hair-like structures. When touched, these hair-like projections or quills, inject toxins into the skin. This causes irritation, followed by mild pain and burning sensation in the affected area. The pain and burning sensation may go on increasing with time. The affected area may also begin to itch, followed by redness and swelling. The effects generally last for a few minutes, but can extend for a week. One would need to consult the physician, if side effects caused due to exposure to the fresh stinging nettle last for a period more than a week. However, the use of over-the-counter creams and anti-itch ointments can be of help in alleviating the symptoms to some extent.
Although stinging nettle supplements are considered natural, they could also cause certain adverse effects on the body. They are considered as safe when used appropriately, for not more than 6 months. Normally, a freeze-dried nettle leaf product is used to treat various allergies. An overdose could result in side effects that range from mild to severe. These side effects can be caused due to the use of the extract or supplements.
The plant is believed to have natural diuretic properties. Diuretics are substances that increase the urine flow, thereby helping your body get rid of excess water. It is advisable to drink adequate fluids while consuming it, in order to avoid dehydration.
Though it can be digested completely by the body, it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some people. The body may not react positively to orally ingested stinging nettle, and it may result in gastrointestinal problems including nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, and even diarrhea.
It is believed that stinging nettle may sometimes act as a blood thinner, just like aspirin, and result in thinning down the consistency of blood. This may reduce blood's ability to clot. Hence, it is advisable to stop its consumption along with other medications that it could interact with, or before undergoing surgery.
Blood Pressure Changes
It has the ability to lower blood pressure. This can be very dangerous if one is already taking medications to control blood pressure. Avoid taking it with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors such as lisinopril and captopril, beta blockers, or calcium channel blockers.
On a concluding note, it is recommended to consult a doctor before using stinging nettle as a remedy. This is to rule out the possibility of complications that could occur.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.