From Garden Weed to Health Booster: The Science Behind Nettle Supplements

In many gardens, Nettle, scientifically known as Urtica dioica, is a perennial flowering plant often considered a pesky weed. However, recent scientific studies have revealed that this humble plant has numerous health benefits, leading to its increasing popularity as a dietary supplement (Craig, 1999). This article aims to elucidate the science behind nettle supplements and their potential health benefits.

Nettle supplements are rich in vitamins A, C, K, and several B vitamins. They also contain minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Additionally, they are a good source of fat, amino acids, polyphenols and pigments (Guarrera et al., 2005). These nutrients contribute to the overall health benefits of nettle supplements.

One of nettle supplements’ most significant health benefits is their potential role in managing prostate conditions. A study by Nahata and Dixit (2012) found that nettle root extract could inhibit rat prostate growth. This is attributed to the plant’s ability to interfere with producing certain hormones and proteins that stimulate prostate growth. Although more research is needed in humans, these findings suggest that nettle supplements could help manage benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common condition in older men.

Nettle supplements may also have beneficial effects on diabetes management. A study by Kianbakht et al. (2013) found that nettle extract could reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers suggested this might be due to the plant’s ability to enhance insulin sensitivity and promote pancreatic beta-cell function.

In terms of women’s health, nettle supplements may help alleviate symptoms associated with menopause. A study by Hryb et al., (1995) found that nettle extract could bind to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), potentially reducing hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Additionally, nettle supplements may also help improve bone health in postmenopausal women due to their high calcium content (Guarrera et al., 2005).

One of the most significant benefits associated with nettle supplements is their anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a natural response by the body’s immune system to injury or disease. However, chronic inflammation can lead to various health problems, such as heart disease and cancer. Studies have shown that nettle extracts can inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines – proteins that promote inflammation. This suggests that nettle supplements could help manage chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis and allergies (Johnson et al., 2013). Furthermore, they may also boost the immune system due

Nettle supplements have also been found to have diuretic properties. Diuretics increase the amount of water and salt expelled from the body as urine. This can help reduce swelling and inflammation caused by fluid retention. Furthermore, by promoting urination, nettle supplements may aid in detoxification and kidney health.

Moreover, like all supplements, nettle supplements should be used with caution. Although generally considered safe for most people when used appropriately, they can cause side effects in some individuals. These may include mild stomach upset, fluid retention, sweating, and allergic reactions. It’s also worth noting that nettle supplements may interact with certain medications, such as diuretics and blood pressure drugs, due to their diuretic effect.

In conclusion, while often dismissed as a garden weed, nettle has a rich nutritional profile which offers numerous potential health benefits. From managing prostate conditions and diabetes to improving women’s health and boosting the immune system, the humble nettle plant is emerging as a promising health booster.


  • Craig, W.J. (1999). Health-promoting properties of common herbs. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(3), 491s-499s.Guarrera, P.M., Savo, V. (2016). Wild food plants used in traditional vegetable mixtures in Italy. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 185, 202-234.

    Hryb DJ, Khan MS, Romas NA, Rosner W. (1995). The effect of extracts of the roots of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on the interaction of SHBG with its receptor on human prostatic membranes. Planta Medica;61(1):31-32.

    Johnson TA, Sohn J, Inman WD et al., (2013). Lipophilic stinging nettle extracts possess potent anti-inflammatory activity, are not cytotoxic and may be superior to traditional tinctures for treating inflammatory disorders. Phytomedicine;20(2):143-147.

    Kianbakht S, Khalighi-Sigaroodi F, Dabaghian FH. (2013). Improved glycemic control in patients with advanced type 2 diabetes mellitus taking Urtica dioica leaf extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Clinical Laboratory;59(9-10):1071-1076.

    Nahata A, Dixit VK. (2012). Evaluation of 5alpha-reductase inhibitory activity of certain herbs useful as antiandrogens. Andrologia;44 Suppl 1:396-409.

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