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Freeze-Dried Nettle Powder for Allergies and Hay Fever

Young leaves of the stinging nettle have been used as a folk remedy for allergies and hay fever for a long time, but how do the claims about the allergy-relieving effects of nettles stand up to scientific scrutiny? Read on to find out.

Nettle for Allergies
The company Oregon's Wild Harvest sells nettle leaf capsules that contain only two ingredients: organic vegetarian capsules and freeze-dried tops of certified organic nettles. Available here through Amazon.

Important notice: Before you start supplementing your diet with nettle preparations, talk to a qualified health care professional first, especially if you have any medical problems or are taking any medications.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence suggesting that nettle powder and capsules can bring relief from symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. And, turns out, there is also some scientific evidence backing up the claims about the allergy-fighting properties of freeze-dried nettles.

A double-blind, randomized study that evaluated the effects of a freeze-dried preparation of stinging nettles on hay fever symptoms reported that the nettle preparation was rated significantly higher than the placebo in the global assessments that were recorded after one week of treatment. The sixty-nine participants that completed the study also kept daily symptoms diaries—however, in the diary data, the nettle preparation was rated only slightly higher than the placebo. This study appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Planta Medica.

So, what could explain the beneficial effects of freeze-dried nettle leaves in people suffering from seasonal allergies?

A groundbreaking study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research suggests that the anti-allergic effects of stinging nettles may be related to their ability to inhibit several inflammatory reactions that cause the symptoms associated with hay fever. According to this study, the mechanisms responsible for the allergy-fighting properties of nettle extract may include its ability to prevent histamine from binding to its receptor and its ability to inhibit the release of a host of pro-inflammatory mediators.

To sum up, not only do anecdotal reports support the use of nettles in the treatment of hay fever, there is also some scientific evidence suggesting that freeze-dried nettle preparations might help ease symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. However, it is important to keep in mind that research investigating the ability of nettles to fight allergies is still in its infancy, and more studies are needed before any definitive conclusions can be made.

Stinging Nettle

In the meantime, if you suffer from hay fever, why not give nettles a try? If you don't have any other condition or disease, and are not taking any medications that could interact with nettle preparations, there's not much you can lose! In fact, even if it turns out that nettle powder and capsules won't ease your hay fever symptoms, nettle powder still has many other potential benefits. For example, nettle powder may help promote hair growth because it contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. It is also rich in a wide range of other nutrients, and research suggests stinging nettle may even beat spinach in terms of nutritional value.

Just keep in mind that also natural remedies can have side effects and cause adverse reactions, so stick to the recommended doses, and stop using if you experience any side effects.

Where to Get Freeze-Dried Nettles

Look for freeze-dried nettle leaf powder and capsules in well-stocked health food and supplement stores, or buy them online. If you don't know which brand to pick, try Oregon's Wild Harvest. Their nettle leaf capsules, available here from Amazon, have only two ingredients: organic vegetarian capsules and young, tender tops of certified organic nettles that have been harvested in the early spring and freeze-dried immediately to maximize their nutritional and medicinal value. Because nettles have been shown to absorb heavy metals from the soil, this company only harvests organic nettles from an approved site at a higher elevation, rather than foraging nettles near roads.