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Benefits of Nettle Powder and Tea for Hair

Stinging Nettle

Nettle preparations containing dehydrated and powdered leaves or roots of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) as well as nettle leaf tea have been promoted as natural remedies for hair loss. Because of its purported hair and scalp health boosting properties, stinging nettle extract is also used as an ingredient in many commercial hair care products, especially shampoos and hair rinses designed for oily hair.

But, is there any scientific evidence to back up the claims that nettle preparations can boost hair growth?

Nettle Root and Hair Loss in Men

According to one theory, some compounds found in the root of the stinging nettle can interfere with hormones, and therefore help fight hormone-related hair loss and baldness in men. And, there could be some truth to this, though much more research is still needed. But, research does show that nettle root extract can inhibit the conversion of testosterone into dihydro-testosterone (DHT) and have an effect similar to a drug called finasteride, at least in animals (1). Sold under the brand names Proscar and Propecia among others, finasteride is commonly used to treat prostate enlargement and scalp hair loss in men.

In natural remedies for hair loss in men, nettle root extract is often combined with saw palmetto extract which is made from the berry of the saw palmetto tree. Like nettle root extract, saw palmetto is thought to fight male-pattern baldness by blocking the enzyme that is responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT (2).

Nettle Leaves Are Rich in Hair Health Promoting Nutrients

Also the leaves of the stinging nettle might help support hair growth because of they are packed with a wide range of nutrients. In fact, research suggests that nettles even beat the nutritional heavyweight spinach in terms of nutritional value. Some of the nutrients that are found in nettles in significant amounts and that play a role in keeping your hair healthy include:

  • Calcium. Nettle leaves are a concentrated source of calcium (3), a mineral that plays an important role in many processes within the body, including healthy hair growth. However, increasing your calcium intake might not be enough to boost your calcium levels: your body needs help from magnesium and other nutrients in order to be able to absorb calcium. Lucky for us, nettle leaves also contain a good amount of magnesium (3).
  • Iron. Leaf for leaf, nettle contains much more iron than many other edible leafy greens. As we know, an adequate intake of iron is important for healthy hair, and several studies confirm that low iron levels can cause excessive hair loss in women (4). However, iron is not easily leached out of the leaves into water, so nettle tea is not a particularly good source of iron. And, given that the recommended daily dosage for nettle leaf powder is typically only 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon, you won't be getting that much iron from nettle powder, either. If you need to boost your iron levels, a better natural strategy would be to make sure you are eating enough red meat. Or, start infusing your beverages and soups with the Lucky Iron Fish! (See: What on Earth is the Lucky Iron Fish?)
  • Zinc. Nettle leaves also contain appreciable amounts of zinc (3, 5). Severe zinc deficiency has been linked to baldness, and moderate zinc deficiency can cause decreased hair and nail growth (6). Because of the importance of zinc in keeping your hair healthy, this trace mineral is often added to dietary supplements designed to boost hair growth and prevent hair loss.
  • Copper. Research shows that nettle leaves also contain a significant amount of copper (6). Although only needed in tiny amounts, copper plays an important role in keeping your tresses strong and beautiful. An inadequate intake of copper has been linked to hair loss and thinning hair, and copper is also thought to help delay graying of hair because it helps your body produce melanin, the pigment that gives your hair its color.

The Bottom Line

To sum up, little research has been conducted to investigate the potential benefits of nettles for hair, but nettle root extract has been shown to fight hair loss in male rats by acting much in the same way as the drug finasteride. What's more, nutritional analysis shows that nettle leaves provide a wide range of minerals that play a role in keeping your hair healthy.

So, if you don't have any medical condition and are not taking any medications that could interact with nettle preparations, why not give nettles a try? There's not much you can lose. Just keep in mind that also nettle preparations can have side effects and cause adverse reactions—just like other foods and supplements—so stick to the recommended doses, and stop using if you experience any side effects.


  1. H. Moradi et al (2015). The histological and histometrical effects of Urtica dioica extract on rat's prostate hyperplasia. Veterinary Research Forum, 6(1): 23-29.
  2. Y. Cho et al (2014). Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
  3. Nettles, Raw. Fineli, The National Food Composition Database in Finland. National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland. Last accessed: Oct 21, 2018.
  4. D. H. Rushton (2002). Nutritional factors and hair loss. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, Aug 20, 2002.
  5. N. Mahlangeni et al (2016). The distribution of macronutrients, anti-nutrients and essential elements in nettles, Laportea peduncularis susp. peduncularis (River nettle) and Urtica dioica (Stinging nettle). Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part B, 51(3):160-9.
  6. Minerals and Skin Health. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. Last accessed: Oct 21, 2018.