The Stinging Nettle’s Medicinal Value

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Fungal infection which is also known as onychomycosis is a common problem that affects the foot. Most of those who suffer from this condition don’t look for treatment and most of the time it’s because they don’t know they have it. Perhaps one reason is that the fungus could be present for years in your system without causing any problem. It becomes more prevalent among people as they become older.

What are some causes?

A nail fungal infection is an infection of the nail bed and nail plate. It is caused by various fungi that thrive in a warm and moist environment. The most common of these fungi that cause nail infections belong to a group called dermatophytes. They can easily attack the nail and they feed off keratin which is the protein substance found in nails. Yeasts and molds may also cause nail fungal infections.

What increases the risk of nail fungal infection?

Several habits and factors affect the likelihood of getting infected with nail fungus. Walking barefoot in damp public places like pools, changing areas, and showers make you more vulnerable to the infection. Frequenting nail salons that use unsanitized manicure and pedicure tools may also cause nail fungal infections. Some people are also more susceptible to the infection such as those who are diabetic and have a weakened immune system and circulation disorders.

What are some symptoms?

There are several ways for nail fungus to change the appearance of your nails. These include nail discoloration, the nail becomes cloudy, chalky, and dull, the nail thickens and becomes distorted, the nail may separate from the nail bed, and a crack or cut may appear in one or more areas of the nail.

How is it treated?

It is quite tricky to treat a nail fungal infection. A doctor usually prescribes a nail fungus treatment that has to be consumed orally such as fluconazole (Diflucan®), terbinafine (Lamisil®), and itraconazole (Sporanox®). Topical medications may also be prescribed, but they are more effective when paired up with oral medications.

1All about the Roman Nettle

Stinging nettle (scientific name Urtica dioica) is a common plant that grows widely in the US, Europe, and Canada. It is known to grow in damp and fertile soil. Many species of the Urtica family are often referred to as stinging nettle. These include the following: Urtica galeopsifolia, Urtica gracilis, Urtica gansuensis, and Urtica afghanica. This plant has a long history of medicinal use. It was used in Medieval Europe as a diuretic (to get rid of excess water in the body) and as a joint pain treatment.

A stinging nettle comes with fine hairs which are found on the leaves and stems. They all contain irritating chemicals which are often released when they come in contact with human skin. Such hairs or spines of the stinging nettle are painful to touch. However, when they get into contact with a painful part of the skin, they reduce the severity of the pain. According to scientists, this may be because the stinging nettle reduces the levels of inflammatory chemicals found in the body. It has also been observed to interfere with the manner in which the body transmits pain signals.

The plant is also edible. Its young leaves are often used as an ingredient in herb soups, curries, and sour soups. The leaves are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidant compounds like carotenoids and polyphenols. Some other chemicals that have been discovered in this plant are the following: lignan, alkaloid, norlignan, secolignan, flavonoid, sphingolipid, triterpenoid, sesquiterpenoid, and sterol. The trichomes of the stinging nettle contain serotonin, formic acid, histamine, and acetyl choline.

As an Antifungal or Antimicrobial

Crude extracts of the stinging nettle have been studied for their antibacterial and antifungal activities. The crude extracts were tested against 28 bacteria, seven fungal isolates, and three yeast strains which include B. subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, B. cereus, Aspergillus niger, Candida albicans, S. epidermidis, and Trichophyton rubrum.

Other Health Benefits

The medicinal benefits of the herb are brought by the sharp hairs found on the leaves. The hairs possess chemicals that can cause itching, stinging, and swelling on the skin. The following are some of the other known health benefits of the stinging nettle:

Reduces seasonal allergies

Stinging nettle has been known to treat seasonal allergies. Allergies occur when a substance like pollen triggers the body to produce histamine which causes symptoms like itching, inflammation, and hives. Older studies revealed that the stinging nettle may hinder the body from producing histamine and causing inflammation. More recent studies however are required to support this.

Diabetes management

Some evidence has shown that stinging nettle may help treat diabetes. Two review studies showed that sting nettle supplementation could help people with type 2 diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels. The researchers, however, recommended more studies to determine if the stinging nettle could very well be added as a diabetes treatment. Before using the stinging nettle for this purpose, it is better to consult your doctor first and monitor your blood sugar levels.

Relieves Arthritis

For centuries, people have been using the stinging nettle as a remedy for various ailments. Some people claim that the plant can help treat inflammation, gout, and pain from osteoarthritis. An older study showed that the stinging nettle may possess anti-inflammatory properties that could help treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, further studies are required to establish such health benefits.

Treats Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous growth that takes place in males’ prostate glands. This may cause various symptoms that mostly involve urination. According to a review study, stinging nettle extracts along with other medications may help in treating BPH symptoms. This, however, requires more human studies to establish the health benefits of the stinging nettle in treating BPH.

Treats Hay Fever

A preliminary human study suggested that stinging nettle capsules help in reducing the sneezing and itching symptoms that are caused by hay fever. This is because of the stinging nettle’s antihistamine properties. Some doctors recommend consuming a freeze-fried form of the stinging nettle before hay fever starts to set in.

Preliminary studies were done on animals also showed that the stinging nettle may reduce blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

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