Among the first plants to break through in springtime is stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). This plant is often referred to as a weed, but it is packed full of the vitamins (Vitamins A, C and K, as well as several Bs), minerals (Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium), all essential amino acids, Polyphenols and Pigments (Beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin and other carotenoids.)
Stinging nettle has fine hairs on the leaves and stems that contain irritating chemicals. The hairs are normally very painful to the touch. If your skin brushes against the leaves, you’ll get a sting that causes an itchy rash. To make the leaves edible, they are harvested while young, then boiled to neutralize the toxins.
Interestingly enough, when they do come into contact with a painful area of the body, they can actually decrease the original pain. Scientists think nettle does this by reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals.
Stinging nettle has been used for hundreds of years to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. Today, many people use it to treat urinary problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate (called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). It is also used for urinary tract infections, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), or in compresses or creams for treating joint pain, sprains and strains, tendonitis, and insect bites.
One human study suggests that nettle capsules helped reduce sneezing and itchy eyes in people with hay fever. In other studies, patients rated nettles as effective in relieving allergies, and said nettles were more effective than allergy medications they had used previously. Researchers think this may be due to nettle’s ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body.
As you can guess, stinging nettle is a good thing to have in your homeopathic medicine cabinet. You can get it in a capsule or dried herb for drinking as a tea or making tinctures & creams for pain/other medical issues listed above, as well as hair loss.