Stinging Nettle Root and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Two parts of the same plant, two different uses!
Stinging Nettle is an herb that has a long history of use. It’s latin name is Urticae, or Urtica dioica. You may have heard about nettle as an effective treatment of hayfever, or for arthritis. It is also used for urinary disorders, including the treatment and prevention of kidney stones.
But when you go to the shelf to pick up a bottle, you might notice that there are often two different products available. One is the leaf (Urticae folium), or "above ground parts" (Urticae herba), and the other is the root (Urticae radix).
What is the difference, and which do you want to purchase?
There does seem to be a difference. The roots are known to contain certain sterols (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol, etc.) and lignans which, it seems, are not present in the leaves.
These are the compounds that are thought to contribute to the root’s beneficial action in relieving the symptoms of BPH.
As Donald Brown, N.D. reports in the Summer 1999 edition of healthnotes,Vol.6, No. 2, "As awareness of the efficacy of the liposterolic extract of saw palmetto berry for the treatment of mild to moderate BPH continues to grow, an impressive body of literature has also accumulated on the combination of saw palmetto and nettle root. The [following] study,... while flawed due to the short duration and lack of a placebo-control group, adds to previous studies on this combination that have been greater than six months in duration and have demonstrated efficacy similar to finasteride over a one-year treatment period."
In a multicenter, open-label study, 102 men (average age 63.2 years) with mild to moderate benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and maximum urinary flow of < 20 ml/s were treated with a saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Sabal serrulata) and nettle root (Urtica dioica) combination for 12 weeks. Each capsule of the product (PRO 160/120, Prostagutt forte) contained 160 mg of a liposterolic of saw palmetto and 120 mg of concentrated nettle root extract The dosage was one capsule twice daily. At baseline, patient examination included ultrasound, urine flow measures (maximum urinary flow, average urine flow, volume), residual urine, and rectal examination of the prostate, as well as blood chemistries and CBC. Patients were also asked to give subjective feedback using a visual analog scale WAS). Urine flow measures, ultrasound, and VAS were repeated at the onset of treatment (week 0) and at weeks 4, 8, and 12. Rectal examination and laboratory blood measures were repeated at week 12. Patients began treatment following a one-week washout period. Eightyeight patients completed the study.
At 4 weeks, there was a notable increase of maximum urinary flow (mean, 1.73 ml/s) and this continued to improve at 12 weeks (mean, 4.11 ml/s). Average urine flow (mean, 2.38 ml/s) and urine volume (mean, 35.24 ml) also increased between baseline and week 12. Ultrasound measures also demonstrated a notable reduction in residual urine by an average of 25.85 ml, with the greatest drop occurring in the first four weeks of treatment. Subjective feedback on the VAS demonstrated a notable decrease in both daytime and nighttime urinary frequency, pain, and dribbling, as well as an improvement in onset of urination. Two adverse events were reported. One was unrelated to the test medication (sudden hearing loss) and the other was nausea and vomiting.
(Jenner R, Haertel S. Sabal fruit and stinging nettle reduce residual urine and increase urine flow. Urologie Nephrologie 1998; 10:48-5 1.)
Dr. Brown contines: "A large, post-marketing surveillance study in Germany has also demonstrated the successful use a