Stinging nettle is often used as an herbal supplement for the treatment of allergies. The leaves of this plant also contain beta-sitosterol, a flavonoid that may also help lower cholesterol and treat an enlarged prostate. However, much more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of this supplement for these various uses. Potential side effects of the product include diarrhea, sweating, and upset stomach.
Stinging nettle is a plant that is well known for causing intensely painful stings that are caused by tiny hairs on the stems and leaves. This plant is used medicinally for a variety of different purposes (such as for allergy treatment) in herbal medicine.
(Click Stinging Nettle Benefits for more information about possible stinging nettle uses.)
The various parts of the stinging nettle plant (such as the roots or leaves) contain several different compounds that may have medicinal properties. For instance, the leaves contain quercetin, a flavonoid that may help with allergies by inhibiting histamine release from certain cells in the body. The leaves also contain several other flavonoids, such as beta-sitosterol (which may help lower cholesterol and treat an enlarged prostate).
The plant also contains compounds that may have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory analgesic, numbing, antiviral, and antibacterial effects. Because it contains many different active components, it is likely that benefits of the herb are due to a combination of several of the different components.
In general, there is not enough scientific evidence to suggest conclusively that the plant really is effective for most uses. However, early research shows promise for a few different uses (see Does Stinging Nettle Work? for more information).