Nettle, or stinging nettle because of its stinging properties, is used both as a culinary herb and medicinally to treat various ailments, including those affecting the kidneys. In fact, nettle is approved in some European countries, such as Germany, for treating certain kidney aliments. However, in the United States nettle is not approved for any health condition. Consult with your doctor before you use nettle medicinally.
How It Works
Nettle contains substances called polysaccharides, or complex sugars, and lectins, which are thought to be the active components. Nettle leaf has anti-inflammatory properties that may be caused by nettle acting in your body to prevent the production of natural inflammatory substances called prostaglandins. The herb also acts to increase urinary volume and the loss of water from your body, which can help to wash out bacteria out of the urinary tract.
Preparations and Dosing
Nettle is available as dried and freeze-dried leaf or as supplements in root tincture, extract, and capsule forms. When you make nettle tea, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you can drink three to four cups per day but you should always drink additional water along with the tea. Nettle dry leaf is usually taken as 2 to 4 grams, 3 times daily.
Nettle and Kidneys
Nettle has long been used as a diuretic to remove excess water from the body through the kidneys. This effect also makes nettle useful as adjunct therapy for treating urinary tract infections, because by increasing urinary volume, it may help to flush bacteria out of the kidneys and urinary tract. Nettle is used with large amounts of water as irrigation therapy, which forces fluids through the kidneys to treat kidney or urinary tract inflammation. Some use nettle for treating and preventing kidney stones.
Nettle is considered generally safe, but it may occasionally cause side effects such as mild stomach upset and allergic reactions. Never allow an open wound to come in contact with nettle. Avoid nettle if you are pregnant because it may increase your risk of miscarriage.
Diana Kaniecki has been writing health-related articles since 1991. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed health journals including the "American Journal of Cardiology," "Chest" and "Pharmacoeconomics." She also develops health technology products for wellness and chronic illness self-management. Kaniecki received her Doctor of Clinical Pharmacy from St. Johns University.