A Stinger Without Venom
By Anthony Almada, M.S.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), named after the intense skin allergy caused by nettles, hardly sounds like a healing botanical. However, extracts of the plant have been used to treat arthritis, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and even prostate cancer. Do studies support this usage?
While there do not appear to be any controlled human trials supporting the effectiveness of nettles for treating arthritis pain, numerous test-tube studies have shown that nettle extracts display potent anti-inflammatory actions, which may account for arthritis pain alleviation.
Nettle extracts have also been used to treat BPH, but, again, there do not appear to be any well-controlled clinical studies documenting the efficacy of nettles alone. Test-tube studies have gone both ways, some showing that nettle extracts work, some showing they don't. Definitive studies still need to be conducted to conclusively determine if nettles take the "sting" out of BPH.
Recent test-tube studies also suggest nettles extract may reduce human prostate cancer cells, again leaving room for more definitive studies to come.
Exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, M.S. has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.