Use of Stinging Nettle in Hair Loss Remedies
Stinging nettle (urtica dioica) is a common perennial plant, native to the temperate and subtropical zone of the northern hemisphere. As its name suggests, it is best known for its ability to deliver a considerable sting, which occurs when small hairs on its leaves and stem brush against skin, causing a burning sensation and a rash which can last up to 24 hours. The plant has, for centuries, been used in many cultures as a traditional folk medicine to treat various conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, anaemia, kidney problems, inflammation of the urinary tract, etc. In addition to becoming a popular healing plant, stinging nettle has, in some cultures, been used as a vegetable and, due to its high nutritional value, is often compared with spinach.
For our purposes, the most significant application of stinging nettle today is the use of its root extract to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is believed to have the same root cause as hereditary hair loss. Nettle root extract has been observed in some studies to relieve symptoms of BPH and, hence, it is believed that it is able to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to follicle-harming dihydrotestosterone (DHT). However, no clinical studies have been conducted to date into nettles' ability to combat hair loss and its mechanism of action in regards to treating BPH remains unknown. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, nettle root extract has become a popular ingredient in a number of herbal and natural, hair loss treatments alongside other assumed DHT blockers such as saw palmetto and pygeum africanum. In one recent study, the ability of nettle to relieve the symptoms of BPH was compared with pygeum africanum and it seems that it needs to be used in significantly higher dosages in order to achieve the same benefit. Caution is advised to patients using nettle root extract since the whole plant is known to be allergenic to a lot of people. Other than that the risk of adverse events during nettle root treatment is low, as is its toxicity.
In summary, stinging nettle is not a proven DHT inhibitor because its mode of action is not known. It cannot be considered as a proven hair loss treatment either since it has never been used in any clinical hair loss study. In addition to the lack of scientific evidence supporting its use as a hair loss remedy, there is also no empirical evidence available, as no relevant consumer reports exist of it being beneficial in promoting hair growth. However, this lack of clinical and empirical evidence does not automatically imply that it is ineffective in treating hair loss. Due to its low health risk profile, it can be used safely by those patients who are, for whatever reason, seeking an alternative to the medicinal DHT inhibitors such as finasteride, or as an experimental supplement to your existing hair regrowth regimen.