Urtica dioica

Origin: The leaves and stem of the stinging nettle plant, a stalk-like plant found in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Dosage: Tea, capsule, tablet, tincture, extract or whole leaf; capsules, up to 1,300 mg daily; tea, 1 cup, three times a day; tincture, 1 ml to 4 ml three times a day; nettle leaf applied directly to the skin.

Claims: Reduces inflammation, aches and pains of osteoarthritis.

What we know: The antimicrobial, antioxidant, analgesic and anti-ulcer properties of stinging nettle have been studied in Germany and Turkey. Stinging nettle is high in potassium, calcium and magnesium and may be helpful for gout.

Studies: A German study shows that hox alpha, a new extract of stinging nettle leaf, contains an anti-inflammatory substance that suppressed several cytokines in inflammatory joint diseases. In a Turkish study, stinging nettle extract showed antimicrobial effects against nine microorganisms, as well as anti-ulcer and analgesic activity. Stinging nettle root extract combined with sabal fruit extract was shown to be superior to placebo for treating prostate hyperplasia (a precancerous condition), and was well tolerated.

 Nettle may interfere with blood thinners, diabetes and heart medications, and lower blood pressure.