Urtica dioica L. (Urticaceae)
Urtica gracilis Ait., U. major Kanitz., U. urens maxima Blackw.
Brennesselwurzel, common nettle, csalángyökér, gazaneh, grande
ortie, greater nettle, grosse Brennessel, Haarnesselwurzel, Hanfnesselwurzel,
hhurrayq, Nesselwurzel, nettle root, ortica, ortie, ortiga, pokrzywa, qurrays,
racine d’ortie, raiz de ortiga, stinging nettle, tsuknida, zwyczajna
A herbaceous perennial with erect, green to purplish square stems, 30–150cm
high, with creeping roots; whole plant covered with stinging hairs. Leaves opposite,
cordate at the base, oblong or ovate, finely toothed; upper surface dark green
and underside paler. Flowers incomplete, small, green, dioecious (plant has
either male or female flowers in separate inflorescences) and occur as racemes
in axils of upper leaves; male or barren flowers have a perianth of 4 segments
and 4 stamens, which are bent inwards at bud stage; female or fertile flowers
have similar perianth surrounding a single 1-seeded carpel, bearing 1 style
with a brush-like stigma. Fruit an achene
Plant material used
dried roots and rhizomes
In addition to thin-layer chromatography for qualitative analysis, enzymelinked
immunosorbent assay and high-performance liquid chromatography methods have
also been developed to determine the concentration of Urtica dioica agglutinin
in Radix Urticae. However, concentration limits need to be established
Major chemical constituents
A large number of compounds of different polarity and belonging to various chemical
classes, including fatty acids, terpenes, phenylpropanes, lignans, coumarins,
triterpenes, ceramides, sterols and lectins, have been isolated from Radix Urticae.
Among these are oxalic acid, linoleic acid, 14-octacosanol, 13- hydroxy-9-cis,11-trans-octadecadienoic
acid, α-dimorphecolic acid (9-hydroxy- 10-trans,12-cis-octadecadienoic
acid), scopoletin, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, homovanillyl alcohol, β-sitosterol,
stigmasterol, 24-R-ethyl-5α-cholestan- 3β,αa-diol, campesterol,
daucosterol (and related glycosides), secoisolariciresinol- 9-O-b-D-glucoside,
neoolivil, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, Urtica dioica agglutinin and polysaccharides
Uses supported by clinical data
Symptomatic treatment of lower urinary tract disorders (nocturia, polyuria,
urinary retention) resulting from BPH stages I and II, as defined by Alken,
in cases where diagnosis of prostate cancer is negative.
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well established
As a diuretic and for the treatment of rheumatism and sciatica.
Uses described in traditional medicine
Treatment of asthma, coughs, dandruff, diabetes, diarrhoea, eczema, fever, gout,
haemorrhoids, nose bleeds, scurvy, snakebites and tuberculosis. The plant has
also been used to stop uterine bleeding after childbirth, increase lactation
and promote hair growth, and as a vermifuge
Radix Urticae is contraindicated in cases of known allergy to plants of the
Urticaceae family. Owing to its effects on androgen and estrogen metabolism,
the use of Radix Urticae during pregnancy and lactation and in children under
the age of 12 years is contraindicated.
Radix Urticae relieves the symptoms associated with BPH but does not have an
effect on the size of the prostate. If symptoms worsen or do not improve, or
in cases of blood in the urine or acute urinary retention, contact a physician.
Pregnancy: teratogenic effects
Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
No information available on general precautions or precautions concerning drug
interactions; drug and laboratory test interactions; or carcinogenesis, mutagenesis
and impairment of fertility.
Clinical studies have shown that extracts of Radix Urticae are well tolerated
in humans. A few cases of minor transient gastrointestinal side-effects, such
as diarrhoea, gastric pain and nausea (32, 35), and allergic skin reactions,
have been reported.
Crude drug for infusion; hydroalcoholic extracts. Store in a well-closed container,
protected from light and humidity.
(Unless otherwise indicated)
Daily dosage: 4–6 g crude drug or equivalent preparations as an infusion;
600–1200mg dried 20% methanol extract (5: 1); 1.5–7.5ml 45% ethanol
extract (1: 1); 5ml 40% ethanol extract (1: 5)