Evidence for the health benefits of nettle tea is limited. However, nettle leaves contain many healthful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which may be present in nettle tea.
This information comes from an article in the International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Stinging nettle, or Urtica dioica, is a perennial flowering plant that grows in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is a common plant that people can eat. People also use it in herbal and traditional folk medicine.
This article will look at the potential benefits of nettle tea, its side effects, potential interactions, and how to make it.
Nettle tea consists of the leaves from the stinging nettle plant infused in hot water. It tastes similar to vegetable broth and can have a mild or strong taste depending on the concentration.
Soaking nettle leaves in tea is one way to consume nettle. People can also eat young nettle leaves (by steaming or wilting them in the same manner as spinach), take dried nettle leaf in capsules, or use nettle tinctures.
Historically, people have used nettle for a wide range of conditions, including:
- rhinitis and seasonal allergies
- difficult urination
- inflammation and joint pain
- muscle spasms
- high blood sugar
- bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections
However, scientific research into nettle tea more specifically is limited. Most studies focus on dried nettle leaves or nettle tinctures.
The following sections will look at the evidence for nettle’s potential health benefits more generally.
One 2018 review states that leaves of nettle plants are rich in a number of nutrients, including:
- vitamins C, D, and K
- minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium
- fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid
- antioxidants, such as polyphenols, carotenoids, and terpenoids
Because nettles contain numerous important vitamins and minerals, consuming nettle tea may help people get more of them. Its iron content, in particular, may help people who are prone to anemia and other nutritional deficiencies.
However, the nutritional content of nettle tea will vary depending on where the leaves came from, how strong the tea is, and certain other factors.
According to the 2018 review, one study into nettles suggests that they can reduce the need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in people with osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb. This suggests that nettle has anti-inflammatory properties.
However, the study focuses on eating nettle leaves as food rather than on consuming nettle tea. As a result, the tea may not have the same effect.
The Arthritis Foundation suggest that people who want to try the tea drink one cup three times per day. However, it is important to discuss this with a doctor first.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate, occurs when the prostate gland grows too large and presses on the urethra. This can cause difficulty urinating or incomplete urination.
An older study from 2000 suggests that nettle, in combination with saw palmetto, improved BPH symptoms and urination just as much as finasteride, which is a common BPH medication.
Again, these studies focus on nettle leaves rather than nettle tea. Scientists need to carry out further studies to understand how nettle tea might help with BPH.
According to the 2018 review, there is evidence to suggest that nettle can affect the receptors and enzymes involved in allergic reactions. This may make it useful as a remedy for hay fever or allergic contact dermatitis.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health state that while people often use nettle for allergies, there is not strong enough evidence to conclude that it is effective.
Nettle leaves and nettle tea are generally safe for adults. However, as with all herbal remedies, some people may experience side effects.
There is not much evidence on how common side effects are in people who drink herbal tea. Some people have reported experiencing an allergic reaction to nettle infusions, including symptoms such as hives.
People handling flowering nettle plants may also experience allergic rhinitis as a result of a pollen allergy. Stinging nettle pollen is a common cause of hay fever during the warmer months.
There is also a possibility that nettle may affect estrogen levels. One 2007 case study focuses on a male who developed breast tissue and a female who developed high estrogen levels and nipple discharge due to nettle consumption. However, it is unclear how common these side effects are.
Pregnant people should not take nettle or drink nettle tea. Due to a lack of research, children under the age of 12 years should also avoid nettle.
It is important that people with existing conditions and those who take certain medications speak with a healthcare professional before trying nettle. This includes people who take:
- ACE inhibitors
- calcium channel blockers
- diabetes medications
- medications that affect estrogen levels
Nettle may interact with or enhance the effect of these medications.
To maximize nettle tea’s benefits, the American Botanical Council suggest steeping 2–3 teaspoons of dried nettle leaves in 1 pint (568 milliliters) of boiling water for 10–15 minutes.
One 2016 study suggests that steeping nettle tea for 10 minutes in water at a temperature of 122–140°F (50–60°C) is the best way to preserve its vitamin C content.
A person should speak with a doctor or another healthcare professional before trying nettle supplements or tea.
Seek emergency help for severe allergic reactions to nettle. Some symptoms that indicate anaphylactic shock include:
- swollen airways and tongue
- difficulty breathing
- rapid heartbeat
- clammy skin
- loss of consciousness
It is also important for a person to speak with a doctor if they notice any new symptoms, or a change in existing symptoms, while drinking nettle tea regularly.
Nettle tea is a popular herbal drink. Some people use it for medicinal purposes, as it contains a number of beneficial nutrients, including iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Evidence for nettle tea’s benefits for specific health conditions is limited. However, nettle leaves may help people as a complementary remedy for arthritis, urinary problems, and anemia.
Overall, researchers need to carry out more studies to better understand the benefits of nettle tea, how it works in the body, and how often it causes side effects.