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Nettle Root Used For Acne – Helpful or Redundant?

You may recognize nettle root as something to be avoided at all costs. Certainly, your parents or grandparents may have advised you to run like the wind whenever you see this plant, as it may cause your skin to react severely and painfully. Well, now that you are no longer a child, you may forget everything you know about this natural gift.

Indeed, nettle root can be somewhat beneficial to your skin, especially if you happen to suffer from acne. Everything you can do with this plant may bring you benefits – from feasting on its wild form, trough boiling it into tea, to taking it as a supplement. One of the best things about nettle root? It’s cheap and astonishingly widely available! You can see it in fields and forests, and even in cities and around parks and playgrounds.

Using stinging nettles to your skin may clear your acne and eczema and it can also make your hair thicker and shinier with more hair growth as well.

What is nettle root’s value? Its primary benefit lies in the generous supply of antioxidants1, phytonutrients and minerals that it can provide to you and your skin. Still, you might think that using such a ‘dangerous’, stinging plant can’t possible be good for you. Think again! In actuality, plants that have defense mechanism are usually the ones that are worth defending due to their naturally beneficial components. Indeed, not many plants can beat the inflammation-fighting properties of nettle root, as well its ability to suppress DHT. Let us delve into the science behind the plant and find out whether it’s worth using it in your fight against skin irritation.

What Are The Benefits Of Nettle Root?

Various studies have confirmed the benefits that nettle root can bring to your skin. One experiment confirms2 that a hydro-alchoholic infusion of nettle root can decrease irritation – even when it comes to diabetes. 50 persons suffering from this condition, both male and female, were tested after ingesting this extract. Two months later, it turned out that their inflammation was decreased dramatically – both in terms of their c-reactive protein, as well as in terms of their interleukin 6. This study alone is able to prove that acne inflammation can be decreased by this natural gift.

Another experiment went after the leaves of the plant, rather than its root. Still, the results were impressive. The study tested rats, who experienced an increase in their antioxidant content, as well as a decrease in their inflammatory NF-KappaB. What is more, the learning abilities of the rodents improved, which speaks volumes about the vast abilities of this plant.

What is more, nettle root has been proven to be able to reduce histamine, which is the element that causes allergies. This means that it can even suppress irritation caused by allergic reactions, such as ones from various vegetables. Basically, what the plant does is diminish mast cells’ activity, therefore decreasing histamine. Furthermore, prostaglandins, cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclooxygenase-1 were also diminished according to one study3, after the use of nettle root. Indeed, this is significant on its own terms, as painkillers, in particular, subdue cyclooxygenase-2, decreasing pain. This means that if you happen to be getting acne as a result of your painkiller usage, you might be able to stop relying on the medicine in question, and instead, be able to opt for the harmless nettle root.

Last but not least, the plant boosts your glutathione4, as shown in an experiment where rats saw their glutathione increased after it was previously diminished by mercury. This further benefits your skin, and restores the shine and elasticity of your complexion.

Nettle Root And DHT

Nettle root has great potential to combat androgens. This was discovered when a prostate-benefit-exploring study investigated5 nettle root’s ability to subdue the activity of 5-alpha reductase. The plant successfully ranked higher than 9 other plants in terms of this ability. This is the element that produces DHT from testosterone. Basically, nettle root could fight inflammation by decreasing DHT in one’s system. This way, the activity of the sebaceous glands would be minimized, effectively lowering your skin’s oil levels.

All of this sounds great, except the fact that nettle root also subdues the activity of the sex hormone that is binding globulin (SHBG). This protein works its way around the testosterone in your blood, as well as to your DHT levels – effectively, inhibiting their activity. This happens due to the plant’s lignan antioxidants. These are pinoresinol (the only one that did not really affect DHT), neoolivil, dehydrodiconiferyl alcohol, secoisolariciresinol, 3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran and isolariciresinol. Indeed, a 10 percent infusion of nettle root has the potential to diminish the binding power of DHT to SHBG6 by almost 70 percent.

What does this mean for your skin? Essentially, the DHT and SHGB in your system would thus combat each other until neither of them has an effect on you. In fact, you might even experience a slight surge in DHT, leaving you with oilier skin than before.

The good news? Such experiments work with much higher doses than you would probably ever ingest in terms of your fight with acne. A dose of about 120mg would likely not affect your hormones (like DHT) much.

Nettle Root VS. Other Natural Products

Another component which can successfully decrease your DHT is saw palmetto. This is entirely due to its high levels of stigmasterol. Indeed, saw palmetto can diminish your DHT7 by more than 30 percent. This is a much stronger effect than nettle root. Licorice root has a similar effect – its glycyrrhizic acid diminished testosterone by almost half – causing DHT levels to plunge, as well. Significantly, the main idea here is not the fact that these plants are better at regulating these elements than nettle root. The key notion is that the workings of both of these plants are much more clear than those of nettle. It has been proven that they both achieve their effects by subduing testosterone. If you are looking to permanently do this, you should instead opt for increasing your fruit intake – the phytonutrients in them can benefit your skin immensely. Indeed, it appears that there are other natural products which beautifully reduce your DHT – without forcing you to ingest enormous doses of them.

Moreover, importantly, you should probably only focus on lowering your testosterone levels if you are a female. Otherwise, make sure to consult your doctor before opting for such treatments.

Nettle Root And Acne

Nevertheless, there are various benefits that nettle root can hold in terms of helping you manage your skin. Making nettle tea or steaming it may lead you to enjoy many of these, without having to injure yourself by eating entire pieces of the plant. Specifically, nettle root’s vitamin A is incredibly beneficial for your complexion. What vitamin A does is diminish the oiliness of your skin, making sure that excessive amounts of sebum don’t get stuck in your pores, leading to pimples. Nettle root also contains a good amount of vitamin C which can also improve your skin. Still, you can achieve the same effects by eating a lot of sweet potatoes, for instance.

What is more, magnesium is also unbelievably helpful in the fight against recurring breakouts. Nettle root contains about 10 percent more magnesium than celery and broccoli. As nettle root doesn’t contain oxalates, it allows the human system to very easily absorb the magnesium we need to boost our skin’s health.

Calcium is another beneficial element that is carried by nettle root. While it doesn’t hold too much value in terms of skin health, calcium is an excellent remedy for unhealthy bones, teeth and nails.

Perhaps the most important ingredient of nettle root8 is its antioxidant content. Various antioxidants such as isorhemnetin, violaxanthin, rutin, kaempferol, quinic acid, terpenes and quercetin make nettle root their home. Lignans like isolariciresinol can also be found in the plant. Moreover, as you may know, stress is a significant cause of acne. Luckily, this natural remedy can provide you with certain amounts of serotonin, as well – therefore, successfully decreasing your stress hormones by at least a little bit.

Indeed, nettle root is a beneficial but not an overly-powerful ally against acne. It contains various health-boosting ingredients, without overwhelming you with its nutritious value.

Nettle Root For Acne – Yay Or Nay?

In the end, what can be said about nettle root in line with its effect on your skin condition? Indeed, this plant can be of little help to you if your pimples happen to be caused by oily skin. If this is your case, you’d better opt for saw palmetto, licorice or even buckthorn oil.

You might gain some benefit in terms of vitamin A and antioxidants. Still, even a simple plant like the dandelion can boost your vitamin A9, much more than the nettle root.

If you do insist on going for nettle root, your best bet is to cook the plant to your liking. As you may know, nettle can sting you and contains various chemicals. Basically, a bunch of very small hairs, that are also, surprisingly, hollow, are what brings you the sting of the nettle. Each of these hairs carry chemicals like formic acid, acetylcholine and histamine. The way in which nettle stings you is via direct contact. When you touch a particular leaf, its hairs essentially pop, unmasking a bunch of sharp growths that expel the poison onto you, somewhat in the way of syringes.

Luckily, if you want to ingest nettles, all you have to do is cook them for about 5 minutes. While this might slightly lower the antioxidant and calcium content, you will still be left with all of the plant’s vitamin A. An easier option is to simply purchase ready-made nettle tea and enjoy the benefits of this natural remedy without the risk of being stung!

References:

  1. Otles S., Yalcin B. Phenolic Compounds Analysis of Root, Stalk, and Leaves of Nettle. The Scientific World Journal. 2012.
  2. Namazi N., Tarighat A., Bahrami A. The effect of hydro alcoholic nettle (Urtica dioica) extract on oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences. 2012;15(2):98-102.
  3. Roschek B. Jr., Fink R.C., McMichael M., Alberte R.S. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytotherapy Research. 2009;23(7):920-6.
  4. Siouda W., Abdennour C. Can Urtica dioica supplementation attenuate mercury intoxication in Wistar rats?. Veterinary World. 2015;8(12):1458-65.
  5. Moradi H.R., Erfani Majd N., Esmaeilzadeh S., Fatemi Tabatabaei S.R. The histological and histometrical effects of Urtica dioica extract on rat’s prostate hyperplasia. Veterinary Research Forum. 2015;6(1):23-9.
  6. Hryb D.J., Khan M.S., Romas N.A., Rosner W. The effect of extracts of the roots of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on the interaction of SHBG with its receptor on human prostatic membranes. Planta Medica. 1995;61(1):31-2.
  7. Fagelman E., Lowe F.C. Saw Palmetto Berry as a Treatment for BPH. Reviews in Urology. 2001;3(3):134-8.
  8. Wolska J., Janda K., Szkyrpan S., Gutowska I. The influence of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) extracts on the activity of catalase in THP1 monocytes/macrophages. Pomeranian Journal of Life Sciences. 2015;61(3):315-8.
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dandelion. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (Journal). Accessed 2019.
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