8 Benefits of Stinging Nettle (& How to Use It in Tea, Tonics, Haircare & More)

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

herb profile nettle leaf
Wellness Mama » Blog » Natural Remedies » 8 Benefits of Stinging Nettle (& How to Use It in Tea, Tonics, Haircare & More)

Nettle is one of my favorite herbs. Also called “stinging nettle,” it is packed with nutrients and is even one of the ingredients in my homemade pregnancy tea. Stinging nettle benefits go far beyond pregnancy though.

What Is Nettle?

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is also known as stinging nettle, common nettle, and garden nettle. It is originally from northern Europe and northern Asia.

The nettle plant is herbaceous with fine hairs on the leaves and stems that contain a chemical. This chemical causes skin irritation and pain when it comes into contact with the skin — thus the name “stinging nettle.” If you’ve ever been out weeding the yard or searching for wildflowers, you’ve probably discovered this on your own!

When cooked or otherwise processed, nettle no longer causes this rash. (Good news… you can also just buy it and skip the stinging all together!)

Nettle has been used in traditional medicine to support:

  • wounds
  • hair and scalp
  • mental health
  • women’s health
  • men’s health
  • pain relief
  • seasonal allergies
  • aches and pains
  • elimination and detoxification (liver, digestion, urinary)

Not all of these traditional uses have been studied, but there is a wealth of long-standing anecdotal evidence.

Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle

I love to keep stinging nettle leaves on hand since it has so many health benefits to the body:


Nettle contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support the body, such as:

  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Polyphenols
  • Beta-Carotene

What I find most interesting is that nettle contains fats and amino acids (almost unheard of in a plant)! This makes it a revered survival food. It’s a great tea for camping or backpacking trips, especially if you forage it yourself.


Stinging nettle has anti-inflammatory properties which can help alleviate pain. Some 2013 research shows that there are many plant foods that are anti-inflammatory, including nettle. Researchers caution that more research is needed, but this preliminary research seems to support how nettle has been used traditionally.

Another 2013 study demonstrates that nettle has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties due to its wide range of phytochemicals.

I’ve had a good experience using dried nettle in a cream or poultice for lower back pain and other minor joint pain.

Metabolic Support

Metabolic issues (heart, blood sugar, thyroid, etc.) are increasingly common today. According to research, nettle may be helpful in supporting metabolic health. A 2013 study published in Clinical Laboratory found that patients with Type 2 diabetes saw improvement in their blood sugar after using stinging nettle extract for three months.

The above study didn’t note why nettle could have this effect on the body, but another 2013 study does. According to this study published in Phytotherapy Research, nettle may mimic insulin.

The heart is another important part of metabolic processes in the body. Research shows that nettle can have a vasorelaxant effect. That means nettle can help reduce tension in the heart muscle and reduce high blood pressure.

Additionally, nettle is helpful in supporting the pancreas, according to a 2014 study in rats. Researchers found a “statistically significant” difference between the rats in the control group and the ones who were given nettle.


Traditionally, nettle is used topically on wounds and it looks like science backs this up. Nettle demonstrated strong antimicrobial activity against a wide spectrum of bacteria according to a 2018 review.

Keep in mind that nettle should be processed before applying to a wound to avoid its famous sting! I use dried nettle infused into an oil (olive oil works well) either directly on the skin or in recipes. You can also make a nettle tincture (but use the dried herb).

Women’s Health

There isn’t a lot of scientific data on how nettle can help women’s health. But since nettle is so high in a variety of nutrients, it makes sense that it has been long used in pregnancy tea to help support pregnancy nutritionally. I personally use it this way and have had a great experience.

Nettle has also been used traditionally to support milk supply (probably for the same nutritive reason) making it a common women’s health herb.

However, there is some controversy about its use during pregnancy as some herbalists believe it can stimulate contractions. I tend to agree with Aviva Romm’s view to avoid herbs in the first trimester and then use herbs that are shown to be safe scientifically or historically (like nettle).

As always check with your healthcare provider to figure out what’s right for you.

Prostate Health

Nettle can also help with prostate health. It’s widely used in Europe for enlarged prostate — benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It helps with the symptoms such as reduced urinary flow, incomplete emptying of the bladder, and post urination dripping. It doesn’t affect the size of the prostate though. Because of this finding, researchers are unsure how nettle helps, according to Penn State Hershey.

Additionally, nettle may be a promising help for prostate cancer. A 2000 study found stinging nettle root extract can help keep prostate cancer from spreading. More research is needed to study this effect, but the results are promising.

Hair and Scalp Health

One of nettle’s most famous uses is in supporting hair and scalp health. It’s thought that the appearance of an herb gives an indication as to how it can be useful to the body. In this case, the fine hairs on nettle indicate that it is great for hair and scalp!

Whether or not this old wives’ tale is true, there does seem to be some truth to nettle’s place in hair and scalp support. One study published in 2011 found that hair loss and thinning hair are often caused by the damage of inflammation on the hair follicle. Since nettle has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce the inflammation that is causing hair loss and hair follicle damage.

Additionally, a study published in 2017 found that nettle can improve scalp circulation and hair growth. It also concludes that nettle can “help prevent hair from falling out.” Compounds in nettle help block the overproduction of testosterone which can cause hair loss problems. These same compounds can help boost production of a protein that stimulates hair growth.

This is why I made sure to include nettle as an ingredient in my line of shampoo and conditioner.

Allergy Support

Nettle is often used to help with hay fever and other mild allergies. Researchers found that nettle worked better than a placebo for people suffering from allergic rhinitis (hay fever).

A more recent study published in 2009 found that this is likely due to nettle affecting key receptors and enzymes associated with allergies. In other words, it may act as an antihistamine. Nettle is one of my go-to herbs for hay fever and seasonal allergies.

How to Use Stinging Nettle

There are many ways to use nettle at home. Yes, nettle will sting the skin if touched, but processed nettle by drying or cooking poses no issue.

Here are some ways I use it:

  • Culinary – Because nettle contains many nutrients, it’s a great addition to a meal. You can use it dried or cook it and add it to a recipe you would add other greens to (don’t eat it raw). I like to add it to smoothies or meatloaf for added nutrients.
  • Multivitamin – Some people even consider nettle tea a form of a daily vitamin. Add nettle to another tea blend or brew it on its own for a daily infusion of nutrients.
  • Cold and Flu Support – I will drink nettle tea for its nutrients during an illness since eating can be difficult.
  • First Aid – Dried nettle can be used as a poultice for small wounds to help fight infection.
  • Inflammatory Pain – For issues like arthritis and joint pain, herbalists recommend using fresh stinging nettle on the skin near the pain. The stinging is thought to help relieve the pain of arthritis. This may not sound like fun to most of us, but it seems to work!
  • Hair Care – You can infuse water or vinegar with nettle to use as a hair rinse. I include nettle in my homemade herbal hair rinse and it’s also in my brand new line of hair care products.
  • Allergies and Allergic Reactions – Consume nettle tea or tincture daily for 2-3 months before allergy season to avoid allergies. I also use capsules for acute relief of allergy symptoms. Nettle is also helpful for poison ivy since nettle acts as an antihistamine.
  • Overall Health – If you want to use nettle for women’s health, prostate health or some of its other uses, start with a nettle tea or tincture. You can also take capsules or make dried nettle into electuaries (like cough drops).

Stinging Nettle Safety and Side Effects

Stinging nettle is generally considered safe for use. But as mentioned earlier, a few herbalists disagree with nettle use during pregnancy. Herbalist Michael Moore in his book Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West notes that fresh nettle should be avoided by pregnant women as it may cause “uterine excitation.” It’s unclear if dried would be safe.

I’ve used it in all of my pregnancies and have been happy with it, but you must do your own research. It’s always a good idea to check with your midwife or doctor to see if nettle is safe for you.

If you are on medications, other supplements, or have a medical condition, it’s best to check with your health care practitioner before using stinging nettle. There may be some interactions for those on medications for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, or if you’re taking blood thinners.

Where to Get Stinging Nettle

Nettle is available in both root and leaf form, and even a powdered version of the leaf which I add to my veggie smoothies. Here are some of my favorite preparations of nettle:

If you’re brave enough to handle the sting, you can also try to harvest it yourself (just make sure you are 100% sure of any herb before eating).

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Betsy Greenleaf, the first board-certified female urogynecologist in the United States. She is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Do you use stinging nettle? How has it helped?

Nettle is a wonderful herb that is used for easing allergies, asthma, and illness. It is sometimes used for reducing blood pressure and infection.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


88 responses to “8 Benefits of Stinging Nettle (& How to Use It in Tea, Tonics, Haircare & More)”

  1. Carrie Avatar

    Do other species of Nettle help with allergies? Or is it only Stinging Nettle? The capsules you linked to (Nature’s Way) are not stinging nettle (urtica dioica). They’re a different species (urtica spp.). Did you still find them helpful for allergies?

  2. Randall Little Avatar
    Randall Little

    Hi, you mentioned that you use stinging nettle in your homemade pregnancy tea. Dr. Andrew Weil advises against pregnant women using stinging nettle as it can lead to miscarriage…

  3. Jessica Ruffing Avatar
    Jessica Ruffing

    Hello! I had a question regarding nettle for my toddler…. I was hoping to buy a mix of herbs to make an immune extract/tea/tincture for immune support at times. Here was the list of herbs it included: Elderberry Whole Organic, Echinacea Purpurea Herbc/s Organic, Echinacea Root c/s Organic, Peppermint Leaf c/s Organic, Rose Hips c/s Organic, Nettle Leaf c/s Organic, Eleuthero Root c/s Organic

    Wondering if you could speak to using these for a toddler? She is just over a year, and I want to be cautious. I’m fairly comfortable with elderberry, echinacea, rosehips, but unsure about the rest. Thank you for any thoughts you might have! Appreciate your articles!

  4. Verica Avatar

    Daily Nettle tea has helped relieve my allergy symptoms. I was wondering if nettle tea or nettle extract can be given to 1 year olds for allergies during summer?

  5. Christine Avatar

    you mentioned that you use stinging nettle in your homemade pregnancy tea. Dr. Andrew Weil advises against pregnant women using stinging nettle as it can lead to miscarriage…

  6. James Avatar

    I love nettles. Once cooked or dried the stings go away. Supposedly allowing the stings is the best way to eliminate other allergies. I do know the stings remove the pain from wasp stings, just brush the underside against it and the pain will end in a few minutes. My favorite recipe is nettle greens cooked with butter and garlic. I should also mention they are very easy to grow and being a perennial you do not have to worry about planting them every year. To control you can cut to the ground and cover with boxes and mulch because they are invasive in a garden.

  7. E C Nielsen Avatar
    E C Nielsen

    Stinging Nettle is a plant I eagerly await each Spring! It is one of the first plants you’ll see in late Winter. I have been picking it for decades ~ I dry enough for the rest of the year and eat plates of it steamed with lemon and butter, yummmmm!
    IMPORTANT: (i) harvest only from a clean (no pesticide or other toxic spraying nearby and not near any gmo crops) location on a day when the plants are dry and (ii) do not harvest once the plant is in its seeding stage!)
    I use thick rubber gloves (actually, only one glove is really necessary ~ since I’m right handed, I use a glove on my left hand and have my scissors in my right ungloved hand!).
    I rarely harvest once the plants have gotten quite tall ~ I like the tops and make sure I harvest very little of the stem. I place my left hand on the stem just below the first set of leaves below the tops, pull up slightly so I can cut just below those leaves.
    To dry, I simply lay a single layer on the big window screens I use for drying herbs and plants or can also use bamboo or other woven baskets or large drying trays (these are really good as it allows you to toss them every day or two to help in the drying process).
    Once completely dry, I store them in clean, dry glass jars ~ I often will cover the jar opening with a cloth for another week or so, to ensure there is absolutely no moisture left in the leaves.
    My favorite way to use my dried Nettles is as an overnight infusion (see what Herbalist Susun Weed says about infusions!) Just before going to bed, I place 1oz of Nettles per quart jar + very hot water to cover (cool the water just a little after boiling), cover and let sit until morning or AT LEAST 4 hours. Strain and drink throughout the next day ~ compost the leaves!
    Very high in Vitamin C and one of the only wild plants that contains protein!

  8. Kimberly Koren Avatar
    Kimberly Koren

    I just bought some nettle and was going to give it to my pup who has skin allergies and runny eyes. I read that you can add nettles to sunflower oil and let sit for four to six weeks for an oil infusion. Any idea on how much I can give him?

    Also I NEVER knew nettles help with hair loss! I am going to make myself some tea from also!

    Thank you for this article.

  9. Ralph Avatar

    How often or how long should stinging nettle be taken? for one week, two weeks?

  10. Laura Avatar

    Why is it not recommended for long-term use?
    I have multiple kidney stones and am researching for that reason.
    Is capsule supplement as healthy as the tea?

  11. Aryn Avatar

    Would you recommend giving gummies made from stinging nettle and dande lion tea to a 3 year old as a daily vitamin? I saw the idea on another blog but wondering if it’s safe for kids and long term use

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *