This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using them. This is at no extra cost to you but helps support this blog.
When you think about it, the humble nettle is a fabulous plant. It might not be too popular at the moment, but this plant has many uses that go far beyond skin benefits. Most people don’t realise that this common little plant is also a natural treasure for any woman concerned about her skin. Yes, nettle is a natural remedy that not only can cleanse your body but can also be used to improve your skin.
Known for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, astringent, and anti-allergic action, stinging nettles are exceptionally helpful in eliminating dark spots, managing various skin conditions such as acne, slowing-dow skin ageing, treating skin infections, and even improving your hair.
It may sound a little bizarre at first but trust me. Nettles can improve your hair and skin without stinging them! After all, we’ve been using stinging nettles for beauty and skincare for over 2,000 years! Join me as I look at the benefits of stinging nettles and what makes them great skincare ingredients.
Table of Contents
- Stinging Nettle – Rediscovering the Ancient Plant
- Stinging Nettle Composition
- Multiple Ways Stinging Nettle May Benefit Skin
- Role of Stinging Nettle in Skincare
- Application of Stinging Nettles in Skin Care Products
Stinging Nettle – Rediscovering the Ancient Plant
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a flowering plant in the Urticaceae family. This weedy plant is commonly found in Europe, North America, parts of Africa, and Asia and has been used for its remedial effect since ancient times.
It is called stinging nettle because its needle-like leaves inject a cocktail of histamine, formic acid, acetylcholine, and serotonin, causing a severe burning sensation. Since these biologically active substances are only injected in small amounts, they do not cause toxicity, but they cause local reactions and discomfort. Its effective defensive mechanism truly keeps herbivores away.
People have been enjoying stinging nettles as part of their diet for millennia. What makes this plant unique is its ability to retain many of its nutrients during the cooking or drying process.
Stinging Nettle Composition
Stinging nettle is rich in essential nutrients and beneficial phytocompounds, which boost general health, are good for the skin and help protect the body from disorders.
- Amino acids. Stinging nettle is an excellent source of essential amino acids. It may be especially suitable for vegans. Moreover, keeping in mind its low cost, it can be helpful for just anyone. USDA data shows that fresh leaves may contain about 2.7 gms of protein in 100 gms, which may not be very high. However, its dried powder or flour may have almost 34% of protein, which is relatively high for any non-animal-based food source. Proteins are building blocks of the body; they are needed for building muscles and are also suitable for skin health.
- Dietary fibre. Low intake of dietary fibre is a huge problem in the west. Researchers recommend that adults should consume 20-30 gms of dietary fibre a day. 8-10% of stinging nettle powder is dietary fibre. It means a healthy heart, gut, immune system, and skin.
- Vitamins and minerals. Stinging nettle is rich in various micronutrients. It is an excellent source of minerals like iron, vitamin C, and carotenes (vitamin A-like substances). It may help protect skin from damage due to sunlight and environmental toxins.
- Fatty acids. Linolenic acid is also suitable for skin regeneration and may help sustain its elasticity.
- Polyphenols. Like quercetin, caffeic acid, kaempferol, and other flavonoids are potent antioxidants that may help slow down skin ageing and prevent DNA damage. Polyphenols may also have photoprotective properties.
Stinging nettle has many other phytocompounds that may play a role in both improving general wellbeing, and at the same time, enhancing skin health.
“Did you know that nettle contains more Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin A or C than spinach?”
Multiple Ways Stinging Nettle May Benefit Skin
Skin is a vibrant organ that reflects our general health. Known for anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, astringent, and anti-allergic action, stinging nettles are exceptionally helpful in managing acne, reducing dark spots and redness, helping fight skin infections, soothing sore and aching muscles and joints, and so much more.
Below are some of the well-known health benefits of stinging nettle that can help to improve skin health.
It means that stinging nettle can prevent or slow down the growth of unusual cells. Stinging nettle is beneficial for preventing prostatic hypertrophy. Where the high activity of androgens causes various skin problems, such as acne and hirsutism. Stinging nettle suppresses overactive sebaceous glands and may help prevent oily skin, help with acne, and even prevent the growth of unwanted facial hairs.
Inflammation is a defensive reaction; however, prolonged inflammation may do more harm than good. Inflammation is present in almost every kind of systemic and skin disease. Studies show that stinging nettle may reduce the inflammatory response. This anti-inflammatory effect may immensely help reduce skin rashes related to rheumatic disease or other autoimmune conditions.
It may help neutralise reactive oxygen species (ROS), prevent photodamage to the skin, and slow down age-related processes. Most of its antioxidant activity is due to its content of phenolic compounds.
Compounds like quercetin and kaempferol in stinging nettle have an immunomodulatory effect. It may help prevent allergic reactions, alter the course of autoimmune conditions, and it may also help fight skin infections.
Stinging nettle leaves might cause pain, but its extract has an opposite effect and may help suppress pain sensation. Researchers think these effects are due to caffeoyl malic acid, caffeic acid, and flavonoids in its leaf extract.
Stinging nettle is known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. That makes this plant a go-to choice in the treatment of a range of skin infections. It is helpful for those prone to acne, recurrent fungal infections, and other bacterial skin infections.
Nettle extract can inhibit tryptase, mildly block H1 receptors, and has mild mast cell stabilising activity. It means that consumption of stinging nettle extract or tea may help overcome allergic reactions, which are common in various skin conditions.
Studies show that stinging nettle has many other health benefits like reducing hypertension and platelet aggregation, and lowering blood glucose. The cumulative impact of all these effects is improved skin health.
Role of Stinging Nettle in Skincare
Wounds may happen due to many reasons, from physical injury, to chemical or thermal. In burn-related injuries, there is a need for stimulating healing processes and a need to prevent infections.
In recent years, researchers have paid increased attention to the role of stinging nettle in managing injuries related to burns. While the research is in its early phases, and we are only learning more about stinging nettle benefits, its topical application in wounds related to burns appears promising.
Studies show that stinging nettle may help with wounds associated with burns in many ways.
1. Improve healing and scarring on the skin
In burn-related injuries, there is a need for stimulating healing processes and a need to prevent infections. Stinging nettle may help manage inflammation in its early stages. Later it may help prevent infections. It also alters cellular proliferation, and local immune responses and promotes skin healing. It may finally result in better healing and lesser scarring to the skin.
The research experiment confirmed the above results. Researchers used stinging nettle to manage second-degree burns caused by the laser. In the study, researchers found that the wound healed faster than the placebo when they used bitter nettle extract for managing the condition.
It seems that stinging nettle also helps in lesser-known ways like improving local blood flow, stimulating angiogenesis, and promoting faster fibrosis. Early evidence suggests that it could be a natural alternative to Vaseline or silver sulfadiazine.
2. It may also help treat wounds complicated by infections
Numerous studies are comparing the antimicrobial action of stinging nettle. Researchers found that, in some cases, stinging nettle may suppress infections as effectively as better-known antibiotics.
3. Eliminates dark spots
If your face has dark spots or you deal with hyperpigmentation, you should definitely try it. It contains vitamin C, known for whitening and anti-inflammatory properties, making stinging nettle extract a perfect natural solution.
4. Helps with managing acne
Due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, stinging nettles can aid the treatment of acne breakouts. They help by suppressing skin inflammation and colonisation of bacteria commonly associated with the worsening of acne.
5. Help prevent body odour
Stinging nettles contain deodorant properties, meaning that they help prevent body odour. They are a vital ingredient in a lot of natural deodorants.
6. Make your hair clean and shiny
Stinging nettles contain sulphur, which can help make your hair shiny and full-bodied. The keratin in your hair has a high sulphur content, so stinging nettles help to replenish this. Nettles can also alleviate itchy, flaky scalps, which not only reduces dandruff but means you can wear that blacktop with complete confidence!
7. It may help slow down or even prevent hair loss
In recent years, there has been an increased interest in the nettle’s role in preventing or slowing down hair loss. Stinging nettle’s extract can enhance hair growth in those affected by the condition. Researchers think that it happens due to its ability to prevent the formation of DHT from testosterone. It is quite probable that other mechanisms are involved. Flavonoids and vitamins present in stinging nettle extract might provide added benefits.
Application of Stinging Nettles in Skin Care Products
With their vast array of benefits, stinging nettles make for a popular ingredient in a range of skincare products. You can find them in:
- Soaps where help to cleanse oily skin.
- Natural face washes or toners to gently cleanse the skin.
- Facial creams and serums for their anti-ageing actions. The nettle’s venom help to heal blemishes and redness, and relax fine lines and wrinkles, leaving you with a radiant complexion. If you would like to give nettles a go, you can find a potent, natural facial cream at heavenskincare.com.
- Lotion, cream, and ointment formulations moisturise dry skin, normalise skin texture, or improve the healing process.
- Massage oils to relieve symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism or certain types of osteoporosis. But also to promote healthy hair growth.
- Bath bombs to soothe sore and aching muscles and joints.
- Scrubs to gently remove dead skin cells.
- Shampoo and conditioner formulas to help promote hair growth, thicken hair, and prevent dandruff.
- Hair masks to regenerate and strengthen hair.
To conclude, stinging nettle grows commonly in many parts of the world and may help remedy various conditions. It is particularly suitable for skin health. Whether you choose to use it in topical application, as a tincture, or as a tea, stinging nettles make a fantastic all-natural addition to your skincare and haircare routine!
Can I leave nettles on my hair?
Nettles are safe to be left on the hair, as they can help stimulate growth. It can be used in combination with shampoo and as a hair rinse to combat hair loss. After washing your hair, as usual, massage the tea into your scalp, ensuring the tea is not too hot, then rinse. Treatment will leave your hair feeling soft and vibrant.
Why are nettles effective against skin problems?
The leaves of this common plant are rich in vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and bioactive compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. These properties help treat skin diseases and may also help prevent acne, body odour, and hair loss.
What are stinging nettle tinctures?
They are liquid preparations made from the dried or fresh leaves of stinging nettles. Bursting with nutrients and bioactive compounds, such as vitamin C, iron, and amino acids, tinctures can ease conditions such as acne, arthritis, or rheumatism.