Stinging nettle for hair growth.
Stinging Nettle, or Urtica dioica, is a flowering perennial plant that grows in many areas all over this world. The plant has beaurifully heart shaped leaves and its leaves and stem are covered with those hard to miss rough “hairs”. It is exactly these fine hairs that will sting you when you touch them. When you happen to walk into them and “brush-up” against these hairs, then the tip of the hair will break off and that is what causes the stingy feeling and you suffer from skin irritation. Nevertheless ever since ancient times it has been praised for its medicinal properties.
A nettle plant is rich in certain essential vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin K, potassium, silica, and calcium. It is also a rich source of iron and omega-3 acid. As a herbal medicine it is used as a: natural anti-histamine/anti-allergy treatment, detoxifier, diuretic,…
The benefits also extend to their hair problem healing properties to cure hair loss and alopecia. Many studies have shown the nettle’s potential to stimulate hair growth and to encourage your hair to grow thicker and stronger.
Using nettle as a herbal therapy it also reduces inflammation and it is especially beneficial for treating inflammation of the scalp which is a very important factor when facing hair loss.
Chronic inflammation of the scalp can lead the cells in your scalp to not function optimally and start a self-destructive chain of reacties that will cause damage to the hair follicles which are the basis of healthy hair growth.
I came across the findings from a study performed by Riehemann et al. that explores the inflammatory properties of stinging nettle, which is often used holistically for subjects with rheumatoid arthritis.
The researchers experimented with the leaf extracts by taking several cell cultures and incubated each of them with concentrations of stinging nettle preparations, all this while stimulating an inflammatory reaction in the hair follicles. They discovered that the more stinging nettle extract they used to counteract the induced inflammation the less degree of inflammation it undergoes. Other research projects are said to have shown similar results.
There are several reasons why stinging nettle has such powerful anti-inflammatory power. First of all the flavonoids and phenols (also present in red wine) in the nettle are known as powerful antioxidants, and they are known to fight the impact of free radicals. When the destructive effect of these is stopped hair growth is being given a chance to grow again.
Stinging nettle also contain a good portion of vitamin C, which, if you have read my article about vitamin C (read it here), is also a very important ally for healthy hair and wrinkle free skin. So how can we use the power of this so-called weed to help us grow healthy hair?
How to use stinging nettle.
Solution 1: Make nettle tea.
You can simply infuse it in hot water and drink it as a tea. A lot of people don’t really like the spinach-like taste of nettles, so that is why I have created a special tea-blend to help you to enjoy it whilst also enjoying the power of other hair supporting herbs. Check my book “The complete guide to healthy hair. A 3-step program to healthy hair.” (available on amazon and bol.com in English and Dutch/Nederlands)
You can either buy dried nettle leaves in a health food shop or pick fresh plants in spring (only in that season!) making sure you pick them at a spot that is pesticide-free and not one that is next to a road since exhaust fumes make them unhealthy to eat. Make sure you wear gloves and protective clothing. I usually wear a jeans jacket and heavy jeans and boots to protect myself, but a plastic raincoat does the trick as well. Only cut the top 20 centimeters of the plant and leave the rest untouched so the plant can grow new, fresh leaves for a future use.
TIP: you can also use nettles in a delicious spring-soup. I will share the recipe on my blog later.
Method 2: take a supplement
Many health food stores sell capsules or tablets with stinging nettle extract. They are a big help when you don’t have the time to make your own potions.
Method 3: Make nettle oil or tonic
When you infuse oil or a mix of water and alcohol with nettles, you can use this to treat your scalp to repair the weak, damaged or slow-growing hair follicles.
For a treatment oil, I use this recipe:
- take about 20 heaped teaspoons of freshly chopped nettles (they are most powerful in spring) and put them in a clean jam jar (put it on the hot cycle in your dishwasher)
- pour oil over the nettles (about 1,5 cups) and make sure all the herbs are submerged in the oil
- close the lid
- leave the mixture for a month making sure you regurlarly shake it to make sure the leaves are covered with oil to avoid mold
- after a month pour the liquid through a fine sieve or cheese cloth and squeeze well so all plant extracts get into the oil
- put the mixture in a squeeky clean jar with a clean lid (boil pot and jar to be sure or put them in the dishwasher at highest tempurature)
- enjoy the oil as a scalp treatment. The mixture, if stored well, should keep for a couple of months
If you don’t like the hassle of preparing your own nettle infused products then a health food shop in your neighbourhood might sell a tonic or oil that contains the herb. I really love the Dr.Haushka hair lotion and I have recommended it with success to many people. (they also have a great hair oil!)
I will give some brands in another article for you to try out. If you know a good product yourself or if you have a great tip, then I welcome your ideas by mail or below in the remarks for this article!7