With so many “new” and exotic herbs on the market it’s easy to forget about the basic yet powerful plants that we can use for our hormones. And that’s why today’s post is all about using stinging nettle for hormones.
Stinging nettle (latin name urtica dioica) is basically a weed that is native to Europe, but grows worldwide these days.
When you brush up against fresh nettle leaves, they release a chemical that stings.
But luckily that stinging effect goes away once they’re dried or cooked!
And that allows us to benefit from the many benefits that nettles have to offer.
So, in this post we’re going to cover the various ways in which stinging nettle could help to boost energy, support the thyroid, improve hair loss and so much more.
And then we’ll wrap things up by looking at one of the single best ways to add nettles to your diet.
Note: this post contains affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use them to make a purchase.
NETTLE TEA BENEFITS FOR HORMONES
1. Good Source of Iron for The Thyroid And Entire Body
Did you know that iron deficiency can impair the production of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and contribute to hypothyroidism?
Yep, thyroid health isn’t just about iodine; you need iron too.
So, what is TSH? Well, it’s a hormone produced by the pituitary gland.
And the pituitary is always in communication with the thyroid. Without proper TSH production, your thyroid won’t receive the signals that are necessary for the production of T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).
In fact, reports indicate that patients undergoing thyroid hormone replacement therapy get better results when they’re given iron (as opposed to thyroid hormone therapy by itself).
And it just so happens that nettle leaf, which is a rich source of iron, has traditionally been used in the treatment of anemia.
So, adding nettles to your diet could be a good way to naturally boost iron and support the thyroid.
2. Balances Blood Sugar Levels
Various human and animal studies show that nettle leaf can lower blood sugar levels.
And it does this in a very interesting way…by mimicking insulin.
You see nettle contains compounds that enhance glucose uptake.
So, those compounds basically act like insulin and as a result, they improve blood sugar levels.
This is a major benefit for hormone health because symptoms and conditions like PCOS, weight gain and systemic inflammation are strongly tied to elevated blood sugar levels.
3. Supports Liver Function
Glutathione is a major detoxifier that your body relies on for getting rid of toxins.
And glutathione is made in the liver.
Some animal studies show that the compounds in stinging nettle can increase glutathione levels, while also protecting the liver from toxins and inflammation (1, 2). Both detoxification and liver health happen to be essential for overall hormone balance.
Now, even though more studies are necessary to confirm this effect in humans, it highlights the potential that nettle has when it comes to supporting the hormone production system.
4. Fights Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s natural way of fighting off stress.
That stress could be emotional or from our diet (refined sugar, hydrogenated fats, pesticides, dyes and so on).
Regardless of the source, stress always triggers the inflammatory response,
During the inflammatory response, various things happen in the body, such as:
- the adrenals release cortisol
- blood sugar goes up
- thyroid function goes down
This is fine in the short-term, but if stress lingers for a long time, that means we have chronic inflammation.
And chronic inflammation means everything I just listed above becomes your body’s new “normal.”
So, lowering inflammation is essential to balancing your hormones naturally.
And nettles can be a great ally because they are anti-inflammatory.
Nettle leaf lowers inflammation in two ways:
- First, nettles support the liver which means your body can get rid of toxins. Less toxins equals less inflammation.
- Furthermore, research shows that nettle can relieve joint pain and inflammation, including the pain associated with conditions like arthritis (source)
5. Major Source of Important Nutrients
Generally speaking, herbs are very nutrient dense. And stinging nettle is no exception!
It’s an excellent source of:
- Vitamins A, C and K
- Fatty acids (raw material for making sex hormones and adrenal hormones)
- Minerals like iron, calcium, potassium and manganese.
In addition, nettles are high in chlorophyll (which gives it its dark, green color). And chlorophyll is great for detoxification!
Furthermore, stinging nettle is loaded with various types of antioxidants including carotenoids, flavonoids and phenolic compounds.
Within those antioxidant categories, some notables ones are:
- Lutein: great for eyes.
- Beta carotene: supports immune system, vision and healthy skin.
- Quercetin: anti-inflammatory, improves allergies, lowers blood pressure.
- Rutin: improves circulation, prevents blood clots, lowers pain
Oh, but wait…there’s more!
Nettles also provide you with B-vitamins, vitamin E, proteins and a whole lot more.
This weed is a nutritional powerhouse and one research paper even states:
“We recommend fresh or processed nettle as a high-protein, low-calorie source of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins particularly in vegetarian, diabetic, or other specialized diets.” (source)
6. Helps With Hair Loss and Skin Health
Many of the nutrients and hormones that affect our hair and skin can be positively affected by nettle leaves.
Here are just a few of the ways in which nettles could be beneficial for hair loss and the skin:
- First, we have the protein, collagen, which is a major component of hair and skin. Not only does nettle contain amino acids (the building blocks of collagen) but it’s also rich in vitamin C (which stimulates collagen production).
- Second nettle is abundant in various trace minerals that are needed for hair growth and preventing wrinkles. And in particular, nettles contain silica which is used for collagen production and is responsible for making hair shiny and resilient.
- Next there’s the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is an androgen (male hormone) that contributes to alopecia, as well as baldness in both women and men. And one promising animal study shows that stinging nettle is able to block the enzyme that makes DHT, thereby improving hair growth.
- High androgens are also a factor in PCOS symptoms acne and excessive facial hair growth. So, once again nettles can help provide some relief when consumed regularly.
- Lastly nettles contain B-vitamins which work together with collagen to keep hair and skin healthy.
- Since nettles help with detoxification and reducing systemic inflammation, they can be helpful for inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema.
By the way, if you do a quick search on youtube, you will find videos from women who use nettle tea internally, and as a hair rinse, to regrow hair.
7. Natural Energy Booster
When our hormones are out of whack, fatigue and exhaustion usually follow.
Nettles might be able to provide a natural boost of energy thanks to their iron and amino acid content.
You see the body uses iron and amino acids to make hemoglobin, which is a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body.
So, by ensuring that you have enough hemoglobin (which is low when you’re anemic) you get more oxygen.
More oxygen leads to more energy.
In addition, the body uses amino acids to produce energy.
If you’re not getting enough of the essential amino acids, you can experience more fatigue.
Basically, stinging nettle could help to naturally increase your energy, without having to rely on strong stimulants.
NOTE: my personal experience is that nettle definitely makes me more alert and awake, without any type of jitteriness. It’s one of my favorite things about this herb!
8. Natural Remedy for Heavy Periods
If you’re struggling with heavy menstrual bleeding, stinging nettle just might be a real lifesaver.
Not only is nettle a rich source of iron, but it also contains vitamin K.
This is a huge plus because the body uses vitamin K for blood clotting, which is a necessary step in reducing any kind of excessive bleeding.
HOW TO MAKE NETTLE TEA FOR HORMONE BALANCE
When it comes to making herbal tea, the basic formula to use is:
- 1 tsp dried herb (1 tbsp) fresh herb
- 1 cup boiling water
Steep for up to 15 minutes and that gives you a basic, pale tea like the one shown above.
However, there’s a much more powerful way of making this.
And it’s a method that herbalists have been using for a long time.
It’s called a nettle infusion and it produces a significantly darker tea as a result of the higher concentration of nutrients.
Here’s what the infusion looks like:
Quite different from the regular tea, right? 🙂
The infusion recipe I’m sharing comes from Susun Weed, who’s a well known herbalist and expert on women’s health. She’s been doing this for about 50 years so the lady knows her stuff!
Here’s her basic formula for making a nettle tea or rather, nettle infusion, for hormonal imbalance:
1 ounce dried nettle (fresh isn’t recommended for this)
1 quart jar
- Place the herbs in the jar.
- Fill the jar with water.
- Cover and seal the jar.
- Allow to sit on counter top for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
- Strain out the herbs.
- Store in the fridge and drink within 24 hours.
Below is Ms Weed’s video on making nettle infusion.
She also recommends this strong infusion over a regular tea because the long steeping time gives you significantly higher amounts of the nutrients, such as:
- 1000mg of calcium
- 15000 IU of vitamin A
- 760mg of vitamin K
Not too shabby for something as simple letting herbs sit in a jar overnight!
A few things to keep mind about this nettle tea:
- When you strain the leaves through a sieve, use a spoon to press down on the leaves. There’s always extra liquid in those leaves and you don’t want to waste it!
- It has a very grass-like flavor. So, I strongly recommend sweetening it with raw honey. I’m always amazed at how much honey completely changes it!
- You can drink it cold or warm.
- Aside from making you feel more energized, I’ve noticed this infusion gives me a greater sense of clarity. Especially after a long day. Great for clearing the mind and unwinding.
Now, to try this for yourself, just make sure to buy your herbs from a quality provider.
And ideally get organic so that you’re not exposing yourself to more toxins.
Here’s the organic nettle that I like for this infusion.
SIDE EFFECTS OF STINGING NETTLE
If you happen to be around a nettle plant, avoid touching it because it has hair-like structures that can cause a rash and itchiness.
Also, pregnant women should avoid this herb because it may contribute to miscarriage.
In addition, nettles can have a diuretic effect which can lead to dehydration. Drinking more water may not always be enough. Just make sure to eat enough other foods to balance minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and so on.
Furthermore, check with your doctor before using stinging nettle with drugs like:
- blood pressure medication
- diabetes medication
- blood thinners
Stinging nettle is a “simple” herb that has a lot of potential when it comes to boosting energy, supporting hormones and serving as a natural source of key nutrients.
I hope you try this infusion and I’d love to hear what you think about it.
Feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or feedback you have 🙂