Alternative medicine and herbal remedies receive more attention nowadays for the treatment of various bodily disorders. Herbs like stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) offer therapeutic effects, especially for women who aim to balance hormones. It’s an herb that has been a staple ingredient in herbal medicine since ancient times.
Cultures in Asia, Europe, and Africa have used nettle for thousands of years. Some healers created nettle tinctures to remedy lower back pain, while others used it to increase bodily warmth during winter. Fresh nettle causes a stinging reaction upon contact, but cooking or drying the leaves cancels out that stinging effect.
Nettle Is Nutrient Dense
According to several studies, stinging nettle exhibits antioxidant effects in the body. Antioxidants work to protect the cells from oxidative stress, which can increase the risk of cancer, cognitive decline, and early signs of aging. Researchers found that stinging nettle extract works to raise blood antioxidant levels. It’s also rich in calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, beta-carotene, lutein, carotenoids, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, and K.
The Use Of Nettle For Women
Many studies concluded that nettle can positively impact female hormones. In general, two substances are necessary for keeping hormone levels check. Nettle works to balance hormones by influencing aromatase and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). The former is an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen, while the latter is a protein that the liver makes. SHBG carries three hormones, estrogen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone, in both men and women. High SHBG levels mean that there is not a lot of testosterone available for bodily tissues. Low levels of SHBG indicate high testosterone levels, which can increase the risk of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hair loss, depression, and more in women.
Benefits of Nettle For Women
Managing Aromatase and Estradiol
Unlike men, women experience extreme hormonal changes, specifically during menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause. Hormones can change as a result of taking birth control pills as well. Nettle root can help reduce the harmful effects of estrogen metabolites in a woman’s body. By decreasing levels of estrogen metabolites, a woman can reduce the risk of certain cancers, according to several studies. Blocking aromatization, a process sex hormones undergo, it effectively reduces several primary causative factors of hormone-induced breast cancer and uterine cancer.
Encouraging Thyroid Health
Stinging nettle contains iron, and iron deficiency can affect the production of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Without sufficient production of TSH, it’s easier to experience hypothyroidism, which can cause weight gain or make weight loss difficult. The thyroid needs iron and iodine, but iodine often receives more attention when it comes to optimizing thyroid health. The pituitary gland produces TSH, and the thyroid cannot receive the necessary signals for T3 and T4 hormone production if TSH production isn’t optimal. Nettle leaf is a rich source of iron, which is a nutrient that can enhance thyroid function.
Relieving PCOS Symptoms
Three primary characteristics of PCOS include irregular menstrual cycles, excess male hormones (testosterone), and cysts in the ovaries. It’s one of the leading causes of infertility in women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS typically have higher levels of testosterone, which causes hormonal imbalance. In a 2014 study, young women received 300-600 milligrams (mg) of dried nettle extract daily for 16 weeks. The results indicated that the women experienced a reduction in testosterone and improvement in menstrual cycles. Additionally, many naturopathic doctors work with nettle to help women with PCOS.
Helping Control Blood Sugar
It’s estimated that about one in nine adult women in the U.S. has diabetes. Various human and animal studies found that nettle has the ability to help lower blood sugar levels. One of nettle’s primary compounds may mimic the effects of insulin. In a three-month study, 46 participants took 500 mg of nettle extract three times daily. The results indicated that everyone experienced lower blood sugar levels. Finally, the antioxidants in nettle may help assist with glucose-lowering activity.