Stinging Nettle & Testosterone

stinging nettle testosterone benefits

How Does Urtica Diocia Effect Hormones?

LAST UPDATED: September 2018.

Author: Ben has a long standing interest in research and understanding how natural ingredients can affect hormone levels.

After graduating from university in 2005 Ben worked in the capital enrolled on corporate graduate schemes.

However, it was years in the gym and using different supplements to improve his strength training regime that kick-started him to put his proven analytical abilities to a better use.

Supporting evidence is cited at the bottom of this page.

Testosterone and nettle

Stinging nettle and testosterone does not necessarily sound like it should go hand in hand.

However, many natural testosterone boosters do include the extracts of nettle in their ingredients profile.

We want to understand why nettle is included and what health benefits it may have.

After all, nettles are nothing but a constant problem if you like walking in the countryside.

In fact just a couple of days ago I was stung on my legs having a nice walk in the evening down some pathways.

So, can the pest of the plants really increase our testosterone levels?

In this article we shall look at the following:

  • What is stinging nettle?
  • The science behind nettle
  • Stinging nettle benefits
  • Unwanted side effects of nettle

What is Urtica Diocia?

Okay, so we have established it has more than one name. The more common name is nettle or stinging nettle but the it is also widely known as urtica diocia.

It is common across Europe, Asia, North America and Northern regions of Africa.

It is a tall green plant with leaves that have tiny hollow hairs that act like a needle injecting histamine which causes irritation. [1]

The sting is not usually too painful but can cause annoyance and will make your skin red as well as causing it to go slightly lumpy like a rash.

However, it will only cause a rash if it is eaten or touched raw and straight from the ground.

And, for many years it has been used as food, tea and also for medicinal purposes.

However, if you do want to live on the wild side there is a raw stinging nettle eating championship which is held annually in Dorset, south west England.

While the World Nettle Eating Championship is not for everyone and was initially a dispute between farmers, the nettle is found to be rich in a number of nutrients. [2]

These include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Calcium
  • Protein

As a result, it is much more favored to be eaten as a puree or even a soup when the stinging effects are removed once cooked.

Historically it has also been used as a medicine since the 10th century in Britain to encourage lactation [3] and has been used in Austria to treat problems from gout to influenza. [4]


Stinging Nettle Science

So, as we know, the nettle is an inflammatory when raw and out in the wild.

It can cause slight pain and irritation in the form of a red rash.

However, once prepared and cooked or boiled it can be eaten, used as a tea and as a medicine.

But what is the science behind nettle? Can it cure, treat or help us in anyway?

The initial research seems to be positive with studies relating to many beneficial medical effects. [5]

These range from a reduction of inflammation, a reduction of aromatase, inhibit and decreased prostate growth and to be a natural alternative for sinus allergen relief.


Stinging Nettle Benefits

Let’s start with its effects on testosterone levels first. After all, that’s why you are here…

So, how can urtica dioica help with natural hormone production?

Testosterone and Stinging Nettle

Actually, the number of studies outlining nettle as being able to increase testosterone are low to non-existent.

That does not sound particularly promising you may think.

However, one study does confirm the effects of urtica dioica on the male sex hormone. [6]

‘…the serum testosterone level was increased by nettle…’

However, we have to consider a different approach.

Scientific studies have discovered that nettle can prevent the process of complex estrogens being formed. [7]

This is key, because, if there is too much estrogen it will have a negative effect on the production of testosterone, and potentially cause a hormone imbalance which can have a negative effect on the following physiological aspects [8]:

  • Body composition
  • Mood
  • Libido
  • Bone density
  • Cognitive health

Therefore, it is important to ensure that our levels of testosterone are not inhibited by estrogens.

To add further weight to the benefits of controlling estrogens further studies have proven that to increase testosterone you do not necessarily need testosterone.

As a result, the benefits of aromatse inhibition are starting to take shape as testosterone replacement therapy can be controversial.

Studies from as far back as 2004 have demonstrated that preventing the aromatse of estrogens can be as effective at treating low testosterone with testosterone therapy. [9]

Using aromatase inhibitors as a form of treatment for men with low testosterone has also proven safe. The results from trials have come back with no adverse effects concerning cardiovascular health, lipid profiles or inflammation. [10]

Prostate health

Stinging nettle is not particularly well know for its effects on testosterone levels per se.

The effects that stinging nettle has on prostate health is well regarded and as a result, more people are aware of the connection.

This is because a fairly large scientific study involving over 550 patients demonstrated that stinging nettle can reduce the size of the prostate with little to no ill side effects. [11] [12]

Furthermore, it is concluded that the hormone inhibitors at work that help control and treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. [13]

Inflammation

Many years ago the action of rubbing raw leaves in to the joint areas was thought to help fight inflammation and rheumatism.

However, it does seem that certain joints benefit more from the topical use of application of nettle. [14]

In addition, another study offers the theory that a cream using the root of the nettle instead of the leaves offers more benefit. [15]

Sinus Relief

Trials have offered promising results for people who suffer from sinus allergies.

In fact, almost half of those subjects involved in the trial expressed that 600mg of nettle found the effects to be better than products available over the counter. [16]

Again, the anti-inflammatory qualities are being hailed as the reason behind the results.


Urtica Dioica Side Effects

All scientific research points towards safety of use.

Studies have demonstrated a high tolerance in subjects, and the pain from being ‘stung’ by the nettle is nothing more than a harmless irritant.

When the nettle is prepared to eat or drink, the cooking process destroys the stinging effects rendering it harmless to ingest.


Video Summary


Conclusion

While we may all curse in annoyance when we brush past stinging nettles either walking or gardening, their overall benefit is far greater than the irritation caused by touching them.

At worst the nettle may annoy you for a short while and create a red rash.

However, the studies have confirmed that stinging nettle can increase testosterone as well as control estrogen levels, which in turn, allows stimulation of testosterone production.

This has provided a ‘back door’ approach to testosterone therapy.

Furthermore, nettle can reduce inflammation of the joints and of the sinus.

It would also be churlish to not appreciate the benefit that nettle has on treating prostate growth.


References

[1] http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74146.html

[2] Hughes, R. Elwyn; Ellery, Peter; Harry, Tim; Jenkins, Vivian; Jones, Eleri (1980). “The dietary potential of the common nettle”. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture31 (12): 1279–86. doi:10.1002/jsfa.2740311210PMID 6259444.

[3]  Westfall R.E. (2003). “Galactagogue herbs: a qualitative study and review”Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice2 (2): 22–27.

[4] Vogl, S; Picker, P; Mihaly-Bison, J; Fakhrudin, N; Atanasov, AG; Heiss, EH; Wawrosch, C; Reznicek, G; Dirsch, VM; Saukel, J; Kopp, B (2013). “Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria’s folk medicine – An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs”J Ethnopharmacol149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007PMC 3791396PMID 23770053.

[5] https://examine.com/supplements/stinging-nettle/

[6] The histological and histometrical effects of Urtica dioica extract on rat’s prostate hyperplasia. Moradi HR, Erfani Majd N, Esmaeilzadeh S, Fatemi Tabatabaei SR. Vet Res Forum. 2015 Winter;6(1):23-9. Epub 2015 Mar 15. PMID: 25992248

[7] Aromatase inhibitors from Urtica dioica roots. Gansser D, Spiteller G. Planta Med. 1995 Apr;61(2):138-40. PMID: 17238068

[8] High estrogen in men after injectable testosterone therapy: the low T experience. Tan RS, Cook KR, Reilly WG. Am J Mens Health. 2015 May;9(3):229-34. doi: 10.1177/1557988314539000. Epub 2014 Jun 13. PMID: 24928451

[9] Effects of aromatase inhibition in elderly men with low or borderline-low serum testosterone levels. Leder BZ, Rohrer JL, Rubin SD, Gallo J, Longcope C. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Mar;89(3):1174-80. PMID: 15001605

[10] Effect of aromatase inhibition on lipids and inflammatory markers of cardiovascular disease in elderly men with low testosterone levels. Dougherty RH, Rohrer JL, Hayden D, Rubin SD, Leder BZ. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2005 Feb;62(2):228-35. PMID: 15670201

[11] Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Safarinejad MR. J Herb Pharmacother. 2005;5(4):1-11. PMID: 16635963

[12] Ameliorative effects of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia in rats. Nahata A, Dixit VK. Andrologia. 2012 May;44 Suppl 1:396-409. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0272.2011.01197.x. Epub 2011 Aug 2. PMID: 21806658

[13] https://researchgate.net/publication/51537882_Ameliorative_effects_of_Stinging_Nettle_Urtica_dioica_on_testosterone_induced_prostatic_hyperplasia_in_rats

[14] Randall C, et al. Randomized controlled trial of nettle sting for treatment of base-of-thumb painJ R Soc Med. (2000)

[15] Rayburn K, et al. Stinging nettle cream for osteoarthritisAltern Ther Health Med. (2009)

[16] Mittman P. Randomized, double-blind study of freeze-dried Urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitisPlanta Med. (1990)

2 comments

  • bradley

    There’s not much proof that this will increase T

    Where do you get your research from?

    2
    • Ben

      I discuss the lack of T boosting evidence early on, but that is not the point of stinging nettle.

      There’s one study that does confirm it can raise test levels, or at least did so in that test.

      However, nettle is a powerful estrogen inhibitor. This stops estrogen levels getting too high which will then create an imbalance of hormones suppressing testosterone production.
      So, in effect, it is a key ingredient to have included in a T booster supplement.

      Please not all references are reliable and reputable sources such as government research sites or university, medical establishments etc.

      0

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