Is Stinging Nettle Safe?

Many people want to know about the safety of stinging nettle. Although the supplement appears to be safe for many people, you should consult your healthcare provider before using it if you have any chronic or severe medical condition. It is also a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before taking stinging nettle if you have diabetes, as the product could affect your blood sugar levels.

Is Stinging Nettle Safe?

Stinging nettle seems to be relatively safe for many people, especially when used in moderation. Some people may be more likely to experience problems due to stinging nettle. Therefore, you should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking stinging nettle medicinally if you have:
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Any chronic or severe medical condition
  • Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of stinging nettle include the following:
  • There is conflicting information about how stinging nettle might affect blood sugar. Some sources suggest that it might increase blood sugar, while others state that the herb can decrease blood sugar. If you have diabetes, it is a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before taking stinging nettle. You may need to monitor your blood sugar more closely.
  • Theoretically, stinging nettle might cause problems for people with kidney disease, since it may have diuretic properties. If you have kidney disease, do not take stinging nettle without the approval and supervision of your healthcare provider.
  • Stinging nettle may theoretically interact with a few medications (see Stinging Nettle Drug Interactions).
  • As an herbal supplement, stinging nettle is not as closely regulated as prescription (or non-prescription) drugs. It can be marketed without any proof that it is either safe or effective. Do not assume that just because a product is sold or advertised in the United States that it is safe or effective. Be sure to look for stinging nettle products from a reputable manufacturer. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable.
  • If you have a chronic or severe medical condition, it is always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including stinging nettle.
  • It is not clear if the supplement is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Stinging Nettle and Pregnancy and Stinging Nettle and Breastfeeding).
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