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Stinging nettle has a long history of use as a medicinal aid.

Stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, is a common plant that grows in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It primarily grows in damp, fertile soil.

The nettle has sharp hairs on its leaves. These hairs contain chemicals, such as formic acid and histamine, that can irritate the skin and cause stinging, itching, and redness.

Stinging nettle hairs also contain a range of other chemicals that can affect humans, including acetylcholine and serotonin.

Ancient civilizations used stinging nettles to treat various ailments. For example, Ancient Egyptians . Some people still use stinging nettle as a medicinal aid today.

Below, we cover the alleged health benefits of stinging nettle.

One of the most popular uses of stinging nettle is treating arthritis symptoms. According to the , some people claim that the nettle can reduce inflammation, help improve osteoarthritis (OA) pain, and ease gout.

Researchers have investigated the following properties of stinging nettle:

Stinging nettle hairs that have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. This means that stinging nettle could help reduce pain and inflammation in conditions such as arthritis.

In , researchers gave 81 people with OA either a supplement that contained fish oil, vitamin E, and stinging nettle or a placebo.

Over a period of 3 months, people who took the supplement reported fewer symptoms and less frequent use of their anti-inflammatory medications than those in the placebo group. However, there is a need for more recent studies in humans.

The results of a suggested that a herbal gel containing Urtica dioica had pain-relieving and anti-edema effects without irritating the skin.

People who use stinging nettles either take capsules or apply a cream that contains stinging nettles to their affected joints.

Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, which have let to its current uses in conditions such as arthritis and allergies, researchers hope that stinging nettle could also have uses in other inflammatory conditions, .

Stinging nettle may help treat seasonal allergies.

Stinging nettle is a popular treatment for seasonal allergies. Scientists are not yet sure how it has this effect, though some suggest it is because the nettle can reduce allergy-related inflammation in the body.

Seasonal allergies occur when a substance such as pollen triggers the body to produce histamine. Histamine is what causes the characteristic symptoms of allergies, such as inflammation, itching, and hives.

The current evidence for how effective stinging nettle is for relieving allergies is mixed.

According to some research, stinging nettle the allergy process by inhibiting the body's histamine production and related inflammation.

However, in an , researchers found that stinging nettle extract and a placebo pill both reduced symptom severity. The authors concluded that more research is needed.

The indicate that there is currently not enough evidence to suggest that stinging nettle can help treat allergies.

The NCCIH also report that other home remedies for allergies, such as capsaicin, quercetin, spirulina, and Pycnogenol, do not have enough solid evidence behind them to prove their effectiveness.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous growth of the prostate gland in men. The condition can cause a range of symptoms, mostly involving urinary processes.

Stinging nettle the growth of the prostate in people with BPH by affecting hormone levels or interacting with cells in the prostate.

Some studies have found that stinging nettle can reduce the symptoms of BPH. For example, in , researchers gave people either stinging nettles or a placebo for 8 weeks. They found a significant reduction in symptoms for people taking stinging nettles but not those taking the placebo.

However, there is not currently enough research in humans to determine whether stinging nettle can help treat the symptoms of BPH. That said, future studies other ways to use it.

A person should see a doctor if they suspect prostate problems, so the doctor can rule out or treat any serious issues.

There is some early evidence to suggest that stinging nettle could also help with the treatment of diabetes. However, much of this research is limited to animals.

In , people with type 2 diabetes took 500-milligram (mg) capsules of stinging nettle extract or a placebo every 8 hours along with their usual treatment. After 3 months, the stinging nettle extract had a positive effect on blood glucose levels.

have had similar results.

These findings are promising, but researchers need to conduct more studies in humans to determine whether stinging nettle could be a useful addition to traditional diabetes treatments.

Stinging nettle is a safe herb to consume in moderate amounts. However, side effects can include:

There is no official safety information for pregnant women or children. For this reason, both groups should avoid using stinging nettle.

It is always important to consult a doctor before using any herbal remedy to treat a medical condition.

Possible drug interactions

Stinging nettle certain medicines, including: