Did you ever come home from a hike with your skin stinging and burning? Well, you must have brushed past some stinging nettles. Stinging nettle is a weed that robustly grows along streams and riverbeds. Its leaves and stems have tiny spiky hairs that can irritate your skin. But, did you know that nettle has great therapeutic value? Nettle shoots and roots have active molecules that boost hair and skin health. Dried nettle or nettle extracts are said to help combat dandruff, scabs, hair loss, and baldness. Read on to find out how nettle promotes hair growth and how to use it the right way.
Table Of Contents
What Is Stinging Nettle?
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a non-woody plant and weed commonly found in parts of America and Europe. It is infamous for the bristly hairs on its leaves and stalks. These fine hairs sting when rubbed against the skin. They cause an acute burning sensation and a temporary rash (1).
The stinging hairs are designed to act as a natural defense mechanism to ward off insects and pests. However, nettle leaves are rich in several biologically-active compounds, vitamins, and minerals like iron and sulfur (1).
Along with the leaves, nettle flowers also contain potent antioxidants (1). Despite being classified as a weed, these potent biochemicals make stinging nettle a therapeutic and cosmeceutical herb.
What Are The Benefits Of Nettle For Hair?
When used the right way, stinging nettle can be a great nourisher, particularly for hair and skin.
- Anti-inflammatory Effects: The active biomolecules have potentanti-inflammatory properties that help in the treatment of skin and scalp conditions like eczema (1).
- Controls Hair Loss And Baldness: By controlling and maintaining a clean scalp, nettle extracts prevent hair loss (1). Nettle may also strengthen hair anchorage by clearing clogged cuticles, thus preventing baldness. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove the same.
- Antimicrobial Effects: Nettle leaves and flowers have shown antimicrobial effects against bacteria and fungi like coli and Candida albicans (1). So, you can use this herbal extract to manage scalp infections often caused by such microbes in humid conditions.
- Heals Bleeding Wounds: Turkish ancient medicine uses a combination of thyme, licorice, common grape, and nettle to stop bleeding and blood loss (1). This may also effectively heal painful bleeding wounds and scabs on the scalp too.
- Manages Dandruff: Massaging nettle oil into the scalp or using a shampoo containing nettle is said to control dandruff and flaking on the scalp (2).
Now that you know all about the benefits of nettle for your hair, find out how to use it in the next section.
How To Use Nettle For Hair – DIY Methods
1. Nettle Extract Salve
This salve uses nettle leaves and seeds that are rich in nutrients and polyphenols. These active molecules nourish the scalp and strengthen the hair fibers. Applying this salve may help prevent baldness and dandruff.
You Will Need
- Dried nettle seeds
- Surgical spirit (alcohol/ethanol): enough to cover the seeds
- Nettle herb: 1 part
- Olive oil: 3 parts
- Muslin cloth or sieve
- Rosemary or lavender essential oils (optional)
- Glass bowls or mixing bowls (small or medium-sized)
What To Do
- In a bowl, steep 1 part nettle herb in 3 parts olive oil for 7 days. You can lightly cover the bowl at this step.
- Moisten the dried seeds with alcohol in a glass bowl.
- Blend the seeds and treated herbs together.
- Leave the mixture to resettle and filter the contents into a fresh bottle or bowl.
- Add a few drops of rosemary or lavender essential oil.
- Rub this mixture into your scalp. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes.
- Wash it off and continue with your hair care routine.
2. DIY Herbal Rinse
This nettle-based hair rinse uses herbs like rosemary, sage, and lavender. Rosemary leaves and lavender flowers improve the hair count and control hair loss and alopecia (3), (4). Sage has a characteristic camphor scent and potent anti-inflammatory effects – both of which may be beneficial for your hair and scalp (5).
You Will Need
- Nettle dried leaves: 10 teaspoons
- Dried lavender flowers: 7 teaspoons
- Dried sage herb: 6 teaspoons
- Rosemary herb: 5 teaspoons
- Filtered water: 2 cups
- Mixing bowl (medium-sized)
- Amber bottle (small/medium)
What To Do
- Add the dried and fresh herbs and flowers to a saucepan.
- Add 2 cups of water.
- Simmer the mixture for 10-15 minutes.
- Let the mixture cool down. Strain the contents into a bottle.
- Pour the mixture all over your hair after shampooing as a final rinse.
- Massage it gently into the scalp.
- Allow it to sit in your hair for about 4-5 minutes.
- Rinse it off and condition your hair.
3. Rosemary-Nettle Anti-Dandruff Rinse
Rosemary extracts can easily penetrate the scalp to treat dry scalp and dandruff (6). When combined with apple cider vinegar and nettle leaves, it is said to effectively maintain scalp and hair health.
You Will Need
- Nettle dried leaves: 1 tablespoon
- Rosemary dried leaves: 1 tablespoon
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV): 2 tablespoons
- Filtered water: 2 cups
- Glass or ceramic pot with lid
What To Do
- Boil two cups of filtered water.
- Place the dried herbs in a glass or ceramic teapot and pour boiling water over them.
- Cover the teapot and let it steep for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Let the herbs cool down.
- Strain the infusion through a non-aluminum strainer into another container.
- Stir in the apple cider vinegar.
- Use the mixture as a final rinse after shampooing your hair.
- Massage it into your scalp and wait for about 4-5 minutes.
- Wash it off and condition your hair.
- You can also store the rest of the mixture for about 24 hours in the fridge.
You can also nettle in other forms to improve your hair health. Check them out in the next section!
Other Ways To Use Nettle For Hair Health
Stinging nettle leaves are not limited to external use and topical application. They retain their nutrients even when cooked or boiled. Some Native American tribes eat nettle as the first green food of the season (7). Here are a few common ways to use nettle to improve your hair health. However, note that not all of them have supporting scientific evidence.
- Nettle Oil: Add a few nettle leaves – fresh or dried – to a container with olive oil. Let it infuse for about a month. Massage the oil into your scalp regularly before washing your hair. The active molecules in this oil infusion may help control hair loss.
- Nettle Tea: Boil a spoonful of dried nettle leaves in 2-3 cups of filtered water. Let it steep for 4-5 minutes. Strain and serve the tea warm or cold.
- Nettle Shoots And Roots: Blanch or boil tender nettle shoots and roots. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them. Add a dollop of butter and combine well. This can be a nutrient-dense side-dish or salad as the toxic chemicals in nettle are deactivated during the cooking process (8).
- Nettle Supplements: Not a fan of nettle leaves? Try nettle supplements. They come in the form of capsules or tablets that retain all the nutrients of fresh nettle. No more fear of stings, rashes, or irritation!
There are many other options to get your share of nettle nutrients. However, you should be cautious in choosing which ones you use and when and how you use them. The active molecules of this powerful weed could trigger side effects.
Does Stinging Nettle Have Risks And Side Effects?
- Not using proper equipment while harvesting or handling nettle can cause severe rashes and irritation.
- Pregnant and lactating women are advised against using nettle. It may induce abortion and uterine contractions (7).
- Nettle juice may cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal complaints (7).
- If you are on blood thinners, diuretics, blood pressure, or diabetes medication, consult your doctor before using nettle products.
Despite its not-so-friendly stings and side effects, stinging nettle provides excellent nourishment to your hair and skin. Its vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols strengthen the hair fibers, prevent hair fall, and boost hair growth. So, the next time you hike past lush and wild nettles, you know what to do!
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