Can Children Take Nettle?
Stinging nettle is a medicinal plant that commonly appears in cold and asthma medications for children. Although stinging nettle is generally considered safe for use by healthy adults, no safe or effective dose has been established for children, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 1. Only give your child nettle products under the supervision of a licensed pediatrician.
Stinging nettle has been used historically to prevent or treat conditions such as eczema, gout, anemia, urinary tract infections and joint pain. While sometimes incorporated into blends and mixtures, stinging nettle can also taken by itself in the form of a tincture or tea. Creams and compresses made of nettle are used as folk medicine remedies for treating sprains, strains, insect bites, joint pains and tendonitis in children.
Nettle and Children
Despite its potential medicinal uses, the effect of nettle in children has not been extensively tested. While extracts of stinging nettle may appear in combination formulas used to treat colds, asthma and allergies in children, the effect of nettle products is still largely unknown. Like many herbs, stinging nettle is not evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its safety, effectiveness or purity, and some products may be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Drugs.com advises keeping all nettle medicines out of the reach of children.
Stinging nettle is available in teas, tinctures, fluid extracts, freeze-dried leaf capsules and creams. Talk to your pediatrician to determine which of these products may be safe for your child’s age and constitution, and in what dosage. Both the root and leaf of the stinging nettle plant have diuretic properties that may cause dehydration in some children, leading to negative side effects such as dry mouth, sunken eyes and lethargy 4. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening 4. Stinging nettle may also affect blood clotting in some individuals, making it more difficult for wounds to heal. Seek immediate medical attention if your child accidentally swallows more than the recommended dosage of a nettle product.
Nettle as Food
Due to its high content of calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins A, C and K, stinging nettle may be suggested as an ingredient in some recipes 5. Nettle also is sometimes recommended as a pregnancy tonic by herbalists due to its vitamin and mineral content, notes the American Pregnancy Association. However, the Natural Medicines Database rates nettle as “likely unsafe” to use when nursing or pregnant, the association notes. If preparing meals for kids, avoid nettle in favor of other leafy greens such as kale, chard or mustard greens.
- The University of Maryland Medical Center: Stinging Nettle
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Nettle
- Drug Information Online: Nettle
- MedlinePlus: Dehydration
- Mariquita Farm: Nettle Recipes
- Cameron, M. and Chrubasik, S. Top herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;5:CD010538. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010538.
- Johnson, T.; Sohn, J.; Inman, W. et al. Lipophilic stinging nettle extracts possess potent anti-inflammatory activity, are not cytotoxic and may be superior to traditional tinctures for treating inflammatory disorders. Phytomedicine. 2013 Jan 15;20(2):143-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.phymed.2012.09.016.
- Nahata, A. and Dixit, V. Ameliorative effects of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on testosterone‐induced prostatic hyperplasia in rats. Andrologia. 2012:44(s1):396-409. DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0272.2011.01197.x.
- Nyamai, D.; Arika, W.; Rachuonyo, H. et al. Herbal Management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. J Cancer Sci Ther. 2016, 8:5 DOI: 10.4172/1948-5956.1000404.
- Qayyum, R.; Din Qamar, H.; Khan, S. et al. Mechanisms underlying the antihypertensive properties of Urtica dioica. J Transl Med. 2016;14(1):254. DOI: 10.1186/s12967-016-1017-3.
- Roschek, B.; Fink, R.; McMichael, M. et al. Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis. Phytother Res. 2009 23(7):920-6. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.2763.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images