Stinging nettle root (Urtica dioica) is an herb with a long history of medicinal use, especially in Europe. For centuries, men with urinary tract problems have turned to this plant with an ominous name to relieve pelvic pain, urinary pain, burning, and other urinary symptoms. Stinging nettle soothes the urinary tract and also helps men with prostate problems. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, stinging nettle is a diuretic, and both of these characteristics make it a good candidate for prostate issues, including prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which share some of the same urinary tract symptoms. While stinging nettle for prostatitis treatment may be used alone, it also works well when combined with other natural supplements.
Stinging Nettle for Prostatitis treatment — Does It Work?
Stinging nettle is a Tier 2 supplement for prostatitis, meaning that there are significant clinical studies and research for using stinging nettle for prostatitis and similar prostate conditions. Research shows that this herb can help both men with chronic bacterial prostatitis and men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS).
It seems that when stinging nettle (along with other supplements) is combined with antibiotics to treat chronic bacterial prostatitis that the elimination of symptoms and long-term outcome is better than taking just an antibiotic alone.
Some studies that involve using stinging nettle (and other supplements) for bacterial and nonbacterial types of prostatitis include the following:
- Researchers conducted a prospective, randomized study on men with chronic bacterial prostatitis to determine the therapeutic effect of saw palmetto, stinging nettle, quercetin, and curcumin extracts compared with the antibiotic prulifloxacin. A total of 143 men were split into two groups: Group A (106 men) received both prulifloxacin (600 mg daily) plus the herbal ingredients for 14 days; Group B (37 men) received only the antibiotic. After one month, 89.6% of men who received the herbal formulas had no symptoms of prostatitis compared with only 27%of the men in the antibiotic-only group. Six months after the intervention portion of the study ended, no patients in Group A had recurrent of prostatitis compared with two patients in Group B. The authors concluded that the association of saw palmetto, stinging nettle, quercetin, and curcumin extracts can improve the clinical efficacy of prulifloxacin in men who have chronic bacterial prostatitis (Cai 2009).
- In a six-month trial including 620 patients, 81% of patients who took stinging nettle reported improved lower urinary tract symptoms compared with only 16% of men who took a placebo (Safarinejad 2005).
It is also useful to look at studies that involve using stinging nettle for BPH because sometimes prostatitis patients also experience lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and may take the same medications as BPH patients. Laboratory studies have shown that stinging nettle is comparable to Proscar (finasteride), a drug commonly used to treat BPH, in inhibiting the growth of certain prostate cells. Scientists theorize that stinging nettle contains chemicals that have an impact on the hormones testosterone and estrogen, while another theory suggests the plant’s components work directly on prostate cells. Here are some studies involving stinging nettle and BPH.
- In a clinical trial, 257 patients were randomized to receive a combination of 160 mg daily of saw palmetto plus 120 mg of stinging nettle twice a day or placebo. The double-blind segment of the study was followed by an open control period of 24 weeks during which all patients were administered the natural ingredients. The tolerability of the natural supplements was comparable to the placebo, and the authors concluded that the natural formula was clearly superior to the placebo for the amelioration of LUTS as measured by the International Prostate Symptom Score. (Lopatkin 2007).
- In another study, a subgroup of 431 patients with early stage BPH was evaluated from a randomized, double-blind, multicenter clinical trial that involved 543 patients. The men were randomly given a fixed herbal combination of saw palmetto extract and stinging nettle root or the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor Proscar (finasteride). After 24 weeks, the mean maximum urinary flow rate increased by 1.9 ml/second in men who took the natural supplements and by 2.4 ml/second in the Proscar group. Men in both groups showed similar improvements in prostate size and in their values on the International Prostate Symptom Score. A safety analysis of 516 patients showed that more men in the Proscar group reported adverse effects than did those in the natural supplement group. The authors concluded that the efficacy of the natural supplement formula and Proscar was similar and unrelated to prostate volume, but that patients tolerated the natural supplement formula better compared to Proscar (Sokeland 2000).
- Researchers in a European study asked 134 patients to take capsules containing extracts of stinging nettle and another prostate supplement called pygeum. After 28 days, symptoms of urine flow, residual urine, and nighttime urination were significantly reduced. Both pygeum and stinging nettle contain large amounts of beta-sitosterol, another prostate supplement.
Uses and Side Effects of Stinging Nettle
There have been various doses of stinging nettle used in clinical trials. Adults can take 240 to 500 mg a day of Uritica dioica root (or 2 to 4 grams of dried leaf) three times per day. It is best taken with some food and can generally be combined with other supplements.
Stinging nettle can cause occasional mild side effects such as stomach upset, rash, and fluid retention. Sweating and diarrhea are possible as well. Men who suspect prostate problems should check with their doctor and not self-treat with stinging nettle. Also, check with your doctor if you have bleeding disorders, kidney or bladder issues, low blood pressure, or diabetes. It may reduce effectiveness of warfarin or interfere with lithium. Elderly persons should use stinging nettle cautiously. Also talk to your doctor if you are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) because stinging nettle can enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of the drugs. While that may enhance pain relief, you need to check with your doctor to make sure it is safe.
References for Stinging Nettle for Prostatitis:
Cai T et al. Serenoa repens associated with Urtica dioica and curcumin and quercitin extracts are able to improve the efficacy of prulifloxacin in bacterial prostatitis patients: results from a prospective randomized study. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2009 Jun; 33(6): 549-53
Lopatkin N et al. Efficacy and safety of a combination of Sabal and Urtica extract in lower urinary tract symptoms—long-term follow-up of a placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial. Int Urol Nephrol 2007; 39(4): 1137-46.
Safarinejad MR. Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Herb Pharmacother 2005; 5(4):1-11.
Schneider T, Rubben H. Stinging nettle root extract (Bazoton-uno) in long term treatment of benign prostatic syndrome (BPS). Results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled multicenter study after 12 months. Urologe A 2004 Mar; 43(3): 302-6
Sokeland J. Combined sabal and urtica extract compared with finasteride in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia: analysis of prostate volume and therapeutic outcome. BJU Int 2000;86:439-442.