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Nettle Herbs for Eczema Natural Remedy

Monday, 25 February 2008

Benefits of Nettles

If the nettle plant has ever stung you, try not to hold a grudge, because its virtues far outweigh its offenses. Wherever nettles grow, they have been used by the local folk as a food and in herbal remedies.

Uses of Nettles

Throughout early Europe, nettles were credited with nourishing and immune-stimulating properties.

Nettles have been used in herbal remedies for their nourishing and immune-stimulating properties.

Nettle tea was used for intestinal weakness, diarrhea, and malnutrition -- uses that persist to the present time. Nettles also act as a diuretic and are useful in treating kidney weakness and bladder infections. As a diuretic, nettles can help rid the body of excess fluid (edema) in persons with weakened hearts and poor circulation.

Nettles also have been used topically to treat eczema and skin rashes and soothe arthritic and rheumatic joints. In fact, the plant has been most widely studied for its value in the treatment of arthritis and gout. When uric acid, a product of protein digestion, accumulates in the joints and tissues, a very painful inflammatory condition known as gout can result. One tablespoon of fresh nettle juice several times a day has been shown to help clear uric acid from the tissues and enhance its elimination from the body.

Fresh nettle preparations sting a bit, and it is this sting that seems to have a healing effect: The reddening and stinging of the skin appear to reduce the inflammatory processes of dermatologic conditions (such as eczema) and rheumatic conditions (such as arthritis and gout). The tiny, stinging hairs contain formic acid and a bit of histamine. (Mosquitoes and biting ants also secrete formic acid, which is responsible for the familiar stinging and itching of their bites.) Nettles also are high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and they contain small amounts of plant sterols. They are extremely rich in vital nutrients, including vitamin D, which is rare in plants; vitamins C and A; and minerals, including iron, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Since nettles contain numerous nourishing substances, they are used in cases of malnutrition, anemia, and rickets, and as a tonic to help repair wounds and broken bones. You can cook nettles and eat them as you would steamed spinach -- their taste and appearance are similar. Nettles are a healthy and tasty addition to scrambled eggs, pasta dishes, casseroles, and soups. You also can juice nettles and combine the juice with other fresh juices, such as carrot or apple juice, for weak, debilitated persons, such as cancer and AIDS patients. Nettle preparations also have been shown to be effective in controlling hay fever symptoms.

Nettle root has been found to increase a protein in the blood to which hormones bind. Ingesting nettle root helps to effectively reduce the amount of sex hormones that are "unbound"; that is, free to affect various tissues in the body. This can be helpful in cases of excessive hormonal stimulation, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome in women or benign prostatic hyperplasia in men.

Nettles Preparations and Warnings

Like all herbs, there are some precautions you should take before using nettles medicinally.

Nettles Preparations and Dosage

Be sure to wear gloves when picking nettle leaves in full bloom. Once the plant has been crushed, dried, cooked, or tinctured, the hairs no longer sting. Harvest nettle roots after the plant begins to die back in the early autumn.

Herbal Tea: Use 1 tablespoon of dried herb per cup of hot water. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.

Tincture: Take 1 or 2 teaspoons per day.

Juice: Drink 1 or 2 ounces per day.

Use nettles as you would greens, such as steamed spinach, collards, kale, or bok choy.

Nettles Precautions and Warnings

Old, late-season nettles can develop hard, stony, microscopic mineral conglomerates that can irritate the kidneys and lead to swelling of urinary organs and retention of urine, when used repeatedly. For this reason, young spring nettles, picked before flowering -- usually in early summer -- are preferred for food and medicine.

Be aware that most suppliers of nettles do not pay attention to this important caution against using the older nettles. Ask about the supply of nettles your health food or herb store sells. Of course, you can grow and pick your own nettles. Otherwise, no dangers or warnings are cited commonly in modern research or literature.

Side Effects of Nettles

Other than the stinging rash the fresh plant can produce, side effects are uncommon. Medicinal preparations do not cause stinging or rashes; only direct contact with the living plant causes these reactions. Tingling in the mouth after drinking nettle tea occurs occasionally. Very rare allergic reactions, such as dizziness and fainting, have been reported.



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