Dioica

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Stinging Nettle - Urtica dioica

Family: Urticaceae? (Nettle family) [E-flora]

[IFBC-E-flora]

[E-flora]


Description

"Stinging nettle in British Columbia is represented by two subspecies: 1) Urtica dioica spp. dioica (which is an introduced taxon in North America) and Urtica dioica ssp gracilis (which is the native stinging nettle). Urtica dioica ssp gracilis is found throughout most of North America, while subspecies dioica is found mainly in the eastern and western states and provinces (AK, AL, CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WA, WV and BC, NB, NF, NS, ON, PE, QC), but is absent from the mid-west and prairie provinces (USDA 2010). In BC, the native subspecies is widespread, while the distribution of the introduced subspecies is not fully known. There are confirmed observations from the Greater Vancouver area (Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Coquitlam), it is to be expected on Vancouver Island, and it may be present in the BC interior (Frank Lomer pers. com. 2010). It is confirmed on Valdes Island... Further work is needed to clarify its extent of occurrence in the province. The two subspecies are separated by flower morphology, and the presence of stinging hairs on either one or both leaf surfaces. See the identification key below for more details." [E-flora]


Hazards


Edible Uses

The Nettle, so far as I know, is not used for food in America, but it has long been used for that purpose in Europe.[EWP]

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

"An infusion of the plant is very valuable in stemming internal bleeding[4], it is also used to treat anaemia, excessive menstruation, haemorrhoids, arthritis, rheumatism and skin complaints, especially eczema[238]. Externally, the plant is used to treat skin complaints, arthritic pain, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, haemorrhoids, hair problems etc[238]. The fresh leaves of nettles have been rubbed or beaten onto the skin in the treatment of rheumatism etc[257]. This practice, called urtification, causes intense irritation to the skin as it is stung by the nettles. It is believed that this treatment works in two ways. Firstly, it acts as a counter-irritant, bringing more blood to the area to help remove the toxins that cause rheumatism. Secondly, the formic acid from the nettles is believed to have a beneficial effect upon the rheumatic joints. For medicinal purposes, the plant is best harvested in May or June as it is coming into flower and dried for later use[4, 238]. This species merits further study for possible uses against kidney and urinary system ailments[222]." [PFAF]

"The primary use of stinging nettle herb among a sampling of traditional herbalists in the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom is as a tonic or nutritive agent, alterative, and for arthritic conditions." [Upton,2013]

Dosages:


Ethnobotany

"Urtica dioica has been used traditionally in Morocco, Turkey, Brazil, Jordan, Iran and many other countries." [Mehri et al.,2011]

Research

"The blood sugar lowering effect of Urtica dioica has been mentioned in old script such as those written by Avicenna. There have been other reports indicating the benefits of using the infusion or the extract of the leaves or other parts of this plant for the use in diabetes (Ramos et al., 1992; Swanston-Flatt et al., 1989). Moreover, it is used internally and externally as supportive therapy for prostatic hyperplasia (Hirano et al., 1994; Krzeski et al., 1993; Kayser et al., 1995), inflammation (Obertreis et al., 1996), rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension and allergic rhinitis (Mittman, 1990)." [Mehri et al.,2011]

"In conclusion, considering all available evidences, the integration of chemical drugs with Urtica dioica may be possible and recommendable for management of diabetes. As a matter of fact, antioxidant composition of Urtica dioica should be noted as an excellent influencing element in management of diabetes and its complications (Rahimi et al., 2005; Momtaz and Abdollahi, 2010; Sarkhail et al., 2007; Mohseni-Salehi-Monfared et al., 2009; Milani et al., 2005; Malihi et al., 2009)." [Mehri et al.,2011]


Ayurveda

The tender leaves are astringent, pungent and slightly bitter. The quality is "Unctuous", the potency cold, dosha effect is PK-, V+. The actions are "Astringent, hemostatic, diuretic, galactagogue, expectorant, tonic, nutritive". [Verotta CIWWS] The parts used are the aerial parts of the young plants (roots & seeds also used). The taste is astringent, post digestive is pungent, potency is cooling. [McIntyre AHTC]


Phytochemistry

Flowering Plant:
In the stings of the fresh plant: histamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, formic acid, leukotriens (LTB4, LTC4, LTD4) [PDR]
Flavonoids (0.7-1.8%): including rutin, isoquercitrin (0.02%), astragalin, kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside [PDR]
Silicic acid (1-4%): partially water-soluble [PDR]
Volatile oil: chief components are ketones, including, among others, 2-methylhept-2-en-6-on [PDR]
Potassium-ions (0.6% in the fresh foliage) Nitrates (1.5 to 3%)'' [PDR]

Stinging Nettle Root:
Steroids: sterols, including beta-sitosterol (0.03 to 0.06%), beta-sitosterol-3-O-beta-glucoside (0.03 to 0.5%), (6'-Palmitoyl)-sitosterol-3-0-beta-D-glucoside (0.003%), 7alphahydroxysitosterol (0.001%), 7eta-Hydroxysitosterol (0.001%), stigmasterol, campesterol, stigmast-4-en-3-one [PDR]
Lectins (0.1%): UDA (Urtica dioica Agglutinin, isolectine mixture) [PDR]
Polysaccharides: glucans, glucogalacturonans, acidic arabi-' nogalactans water-soluble with immunostimulating effect) Hydroxycoumarins: scopoletin [PDR]
Lignans: including secoisolariciresinol-9-O-glucoside (0.004%), neo-olivil (0.003%), neo-olivil-4-O-glucoside (0.004%)[PDR]
Ceramides [PDR]


Activities

"Its water extract was tested for antimicrobial activity against several bacteria, showing a good effectiveness in inhibiting Micrococcus luteus, Staphylococcus epidermis, E. coli, Proteus mirabilis, Citrobacter koseri, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Enterobacter aerogenes (Gülçin et al. 2004)." [Tardio MWEP]


Pharmacology


Nutritional

100g of the fresh leaves contain an average of; 82.9g water, 5g carbs (246mg glucose, 284mg fructose, 317mg sucrose, 462mg starch), 2.96g dietary fibre(1.32 insoluble, 1.79 soluble), 4.29g protein, 0.86g lipids, 1.54g ash, 391mg vitamin K, 14.9mg Na, 625mg Ca, 171mg Mg, 111mg P, 5mg Fe, 350Ug Cu, 1698Ug Mn, 839Ug Zn, 3Ug Se, 20Ug Vitamin B1, 230Ug Vitamin B2, 620Ug Vitamin B3, 70Ug Vitamin B6, 285mg vitamin C, 5.72mg B-carotene, 14mg Vitamin E(a-tocopherol).[Tardio MWEP]


Cultivation:

"Both species of stinging nettle (U. dioica & U. urens) prefer to grow in soil that is nitrogen rich and it is common to find them growing in areas high in inorganic nitrates and heavy metals. Heavy metals are poorly processed by the plant and tend to accumulate in the leaves.... The leaves can contain 10–20% of the nitrate stored by the stems, the physiologically older leaves containing less than the younger leaves...". [Upton,2013]

Herb Cultivation: "Second-year plantings are reported to provide the highest yields....A higher yield is possible if the harvest cut is taken just before flowering occurs. ...transplantation increased stinging nettle stand establishment compared to direct seeding and increased dry weight yields by a factor of 3 or more". [Upton,2013]

Fungal Associations: "Leptosphaeria acuta fruits in abundance in spring at the base of overwintered, decorticated stems of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)." [IntrotoFun3] "...Stropharia species are commonly found on nutrient-rich sites (e.g. compost heaps) and colonize Urtica dioica rhizomes and other small woody and non-woody litter..." [FIE Cambridge]


References


Caution
The information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes. Self diagnosis and treatment, without due diligence, could be harmful and is not encouraged. Some information & images may be copyright. Every effort has been made to present the information in the spirit with which it was originally presented. Some data has been omitted for legal and/or practical consideration. There is some data not covered in the scope of this project, including, but not limited to, cell culture and large-dose animal studies. I have made comparisons and links between related species which may later prove erroneous. I have not verified the information for accuracy and I accept no responsibility for its authenticity. Many of the plants presented are poisonous, have poisonous properties, or could cause illness through misuse, allergic reaction, drug interactions and environmental contaminants. Please use caution and mindfulness when harvesting plants for any use.

Page last modified on 10-02-2017