Top 3 Benefits Of Nettle For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Top 3 Benefits Of Nettle For Rheumatoid Arthritis

Are you looking for another herb to add in your RA diet? You surely haven’t thought about nettles.

  • So how exactly can these herbs help arthritis?
  • Don’t they produce pain and inflammation themselves?
  • How can they possibly improve your arthritis?

Now – nettles are surely not the best herb for arthritis. They’re not even in the top 10. 

But ironically – they have some hidden benefits that most people don’t know.

And since they’re so easy to find – they can be a last-minute solution for your pain.

So let’s find out the top benefits of nettle for rheumatoid arthritis.


What’s Inside Nettles

To be honest – nettles don’t contain lots of unique compounds.

Top 3 Benefits Of Nettle For Rheumatoid ArthritisIt’s actually the combination of several substances that makes them effective:

  1. Phenolic compounds
  2. Minerals
  3. Serotonin
  4. Histamine
  5. Vitamins A, B complex, C and K
  6. Oxalic acid and other acids

Now – these compounds can cause pain and inflammation themselves.

But ironically, it seems they can be a remedy for the pain from arthritis. 

So these are the substances responsible for nettles’ effects.

Now that you have a brief idea about them, it’s time to find out what nettles can do to improve RA.


#1. Masks The Pain

Here’s an interesting fact.

Studies didn’t prove that nettles can reduce the pain from RA. However, they do help in another way:

  1. Nettles contain high doses of serotonin and histamine.
  2. These are both neuro-transmitters. 
  3. For this reason, they can affect the way your brain perceives the pain.

In other words – the pain is still there, but your brain doesn’t pay attention to the sensation anymore.

As there’s no response from the brain – you don’t feel the pain for a while.

Now – there are some other explanations as well:

  • The sting has a similar effect with acupuncture.
  • Also, it makes you focus on this pain and forget about your RA pain.
  • It irritates the painful spot, so there’s pain over pain.

Either way – nettles seem to be one of the best herbs when it comes to hiding existing pain.



#2. Anti-Inflammatory

Now – science doesn’t have a clear answer to nettle’s anti-inflammatory proprieties.

There were some studies with positive results, but there’s still more evidence needed. 

So here’s what we know so far:

  1. In animals, nettles reduce the level of inflammatory hormones.
  2. In humans, creams with stinging nettles reduce arthritis pain.
  3. Some people felt better after taking a supplement with nettle extract.

Now – most studies were focused on osteoarthritis and knee pain.

And those are totally different from RA in terms of causes.

However – to me it’s pretty clear that nettles aren’t useless for inflammation.

Just like with some other herbs – science needs a lot of data before it can recognize their benefits. But that doesn’t mean they’re less effective.

Top 3 Benefits Of Nettle For Rheumatoid Arthritis



#3. Fights Oxidative Stress

As it contains lots of natural compounds, nettles are also antioxidants.

What exactly means this? Here’s the thing:

  • Decrease the level of free radicals
  • Prevent them from damaging the joints
  • Delay the aging process

Now – don’t imagine that a cup of nettle tea will keep you young forever. And it’s the same for any other antioxidant.

However, they surely help on the long term. And I’m not talking just about aging. 

This may not seem such an important benefit for arthritis, but oxidative stress also affects the joints.

So any herb with antioxidant proprieties is more than welcome for arthritis.



Top 3 Side Effects Of Nettles

Now that you know what it can do, it’s time to find out the negative side as well. 

So what side effects should you expect from nettles? Don’t worry – there are no major issues.

#1. Obvious Rashes – it’s probably the most common problem with nettles:

  • irritates the skin
  • causes allergy and red spots

Now – it depends a lot of how you’re using the nettles.

If you’re just buy the powder, you can touch it as much as you want – you won’t get any rash.

It’s just the fresh plant alone that irritates the skin.

#2. Dehydration – this effect is pretty rare:

  • nettles have diuretic proprieties
  • so they increase water and fluid elimination
  • but they can only cause dehydration when associated with a diuretic drug

Don’t worry – diuretics are only given by medical prescription.

But if you’re following a treatment with this kind of drugs, give up using nettles.

They can increase water eliminated and make you really dehydrated. And that can have the opposite effect for your joints.

#3. Stomach Problems – these are only some minor issues, and they’re very rare.



4 Ways To Use Nettles For RA

So these herbs are indeed useful for arthritis – but how exactly should you use them?

Do you have to cut off the fresh plant and boil it? Well, not necessarily. 

Instead, here are the alternatives you have:

Top 3 Benefits Of Nettle For Rheumatoid Arthritis

#1. Capsules Or Tablets – that’s one of the most convenient ways:

  • no stinging 
  • no bad taste
  • you can find many brands selling them
  • pretty cheap (around $15-$20 per bottle)

The only downside is if you’re taking some other supplements. I personally wouldn’t take more than 6 pills daily, even if they’re different.

#2. Tincture – this is another comfortable form:

  • you have to solve a few drops in water
  • the taste isn’t too pleasant
  • you can find it in most herbal stores

Though I personally don’t like tinctures too much (because of their taste), this could be the easiest way to use nettles.

#3. Tea/Infusion – in this case, you have 2 options:

  • either use tea bags that are ready made
  • make an infusion from fresh leaves

I highly advise you to go for the first. However, an infusion from fresh leaves would probably be more concentrated.

#4. Whole Leaf – this form can help most of all, when it comes to relieving pain:

  • apply the fresh leaf on the painful spot
  • let it sit for a few minutes

Obviously, your skin will get irritated and painful. But at least your RA pain should get better.



My Verdict – Are Nettles Good For RA?

Short answer: They’re good enough – but not amazing.

Top 3 Benefits Of Nettle For Rheumatoid ArthritisTheir biggest benefit is that they can take your mind off the pain.

Now – they are indeed anti-inflammatory, but not as good as other herbs (turmeric, Boswellia).

So here’s what I think:

  • If you like nettle tea, you should use it
  • If applying a nettle leaf soothes your pain, continue to use it
  • But if you only do it for its benefits in RA, don’t use it

As I said – nettles can help, but they’re not among the best remedies.

So if you only use them for the sake of getting better, they’re probably not going to help. 

But if you enjoy their taste or if you see a great effect – you should continue to use them.

So overall – I have a good opinion about nettles and rheumatoid arthritis. But it’s surely not a great one:

  • they’re not a great remedy for RA
  • they don’t treat the cause too well (inflammation)
  • also, they couldn’t do much alone

For this reason – if you want a real relief for your RA, go for something more powerful. Supplements are my top recommendation in this case.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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