"Hey Mark, have time to hear about a miracle?"

So starts the conversation with one of the nurses I work with. And yes, most people call me Mark at work.  We are casual here in the great Pacific NW.

Sure. I replied

So he had days of stinging, burning, tearing eyes. Saw the ophthalmologist who gave drops for allergies, but to no effect. So he was advised to take dried nettles by a friend. He did. And within one hour, yes, one hour, he was completely cured. By the nettles.


I did not buy it. Noting works that fast and allergies do not get better that quickly. He took the nettles on day 9, which would be the onset of the IgM response if this were a viral infection rather than allergies and I told him he would have improved no matter what he did. True-true and unrelated. Association is not causation. Blah Blah Blah.

He of course would have none of it. It was the nettles.

Was it? The near instantaneous cure seemed too good to be real, but I had never read about nettles except as a plant to be avoided while hiking. Given nettle's propensity to cause an inflammatory/allergic reaction with a nettle sting, it seemed a too much of the hair of the dog that bit you for a cure.

What are nettles used for? According to WebMed.

Stinging nettle root is used for urination problems related to an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH]). These problems include nighttime urination, too frequent urination, painful urination, inability to urinate, and irritable bladder.

Stinging nettle root is also used for joint ailments, as a diuretic, and as an astringent.

Stinging nettle above ground parts are used along with large amounts of fluids in so-called “irrigation therapy” for urinary tract infections (UTI), urinary tract inflammation, and kidney stones (nephrolithiasis). The above-ground parts are also used for allergies, hay fever, and osteoarthritis.

Some people use the above ground parts of stinging nettle for internal bleeding, including uterine bleeding, nosebleeds, and bowel bleeding. The above ground parts are also used for anemia, poor circulation, an enlarged spleen, diabetes and other endocrine disorders, stomach acid, diarrhea and dysentery, asthma, lung congestion, rash and eczema, cancer, preventing the signs of aging, “blood purification,” wound healing, and as a general tonic.

Stinging nettle above ground parts are applied to the skin for muscle aches and pains, oily scalp, oily hair, and hair loss (alopecia).

And allergies. That is a big list. What common pathway would allow nettles to affect bleeding, a large prostate and hair loss? Probably nothing. I just wish in medicine I had a product that was so effective against so many ailments with such a diverse physiologic mechanism.

But, as in all plant products, there may, or may not, be a kernel of truth. Nettle extract may have some anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. And in one clinical trial nettle was better than placebo for symptom relief, although the article is behind a pay wall and I only have the abstract, it did not suggest an almost instantaneous cure.

So is there something to the nettles? I am still skeptical given the extreme poverty of papers, but given the complexity of plant products and their effects on physiology I will need to keep the option open.


Urtica dioica; Urtica urens (Nettle) http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/12/3/280.pdf

Phytother Res. 2009 Jul;23(7):920-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2763. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19140159

Planta Med 1990; 56(1): 44-47 Randomized, Double-Blind Study of Freeze-Dried Urtica dioica in the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis https://www.thieme-connect.com/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-2006-960881