Choosing the best stinging nettle treatment depends on what its used for. Stinging nettle treatment is available in various forms such as tinctures, creams, teas, and capsules. Uses of nettle include treating muscle pain, gout, anemia and arthritis. Other uses of nettle include treating hay fever, insect bites, and tendinitis.
Patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia commonly use stinging nettle in Europe to treat symptoms of incomplete bladder emptying, urinary urgency, and urinary dripping. When the enlarged prostate gland exerts pressure on the urethra, these symptoms occur. Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia can mimic those of prostate cancer and stinging nettle treatment should not be considered until the health care provider has ruled out other causes.
Hay fever is sometimes treated with nettle capsules and may help reduce symptoms, such as itching and sneezing. It is thought that stinging nettle treatment may help reduce circulating histamine levels in the body. Alternative health care providers sometimes recommend stinging nettle treatment in the form of freeze dried leaf capsules prior to the onset of the hay fever season.
Some studies suggest that stinging nettle might help decrease blood pressure and blood sugar levels. People who have diabetes or high blood pressure should not self-treat themselves with stinging nettle preparations instead of conventional treatment. Diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage. The health care provider can made a determination whether stinging nettle should be used in conjunction with traditional medications or avoided altogether.
Side effects from stinging nettle can occur, although it is usually considered a safe alternative treatment if used as directed. These side effects include diarrhea, sweating, rash, and fluid retention. Rashes from stinging nettle are generally the result of using it in topical form. Topical nettle preparations should not be used on open wounds because redness, inflammation, and irritation can occur.
Possible interactions may occur when using stinging nettle in conjunction with certain medications. These medications include blood thinners, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, and warfarin. Taking nettle preparations may also enhance the effects of blood pressure medications, causing a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Consuming stinging nettle preparations should be discussed with the health care provider when taking these medications to avoid dangerous adverse effects.
Since stinging nettle is not a drug, it is not subject to stringent testing regulations in the way that medications are. Dietary and nutritional supplements can be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions or taking prescription or even non-prescription medications. The health care professional should always be consulted prior to taking dietary or nutritional supplements or considering alternative treatments