Does Stinging Nettle Increase Testosterone Levels?

Stinging nettle (scientific name: Urtica dioica) is a medicinal plant with a wide range of health benefits. The plant is named “stinging nettle” because its stems and leaves have hairy structures called trichomes, which cause a stinging sensation on touching.

Stinging nettle is about 80 percent water and 5 percent protein. It contains numerous fatty acids and a variety of amino acids including glutamine, beta-alanine, leucine, phenylalanine and histidine.

It is also rich in bioactive nutrients such as polysaccharide lignans, glycosides and sterols. These nutrients affect the human body in several ways and help boost health.

Medicinal properties of stinging nettle

Stinging nettle has been used to treat a wide variety of health problems ranging from cardiovascular diseases to cancer. It has been extensively used in traditional folk medicine to treat conditions such as:
• Dysentery
• Muscle wastage
• Chronic skin eruptions
• Intestinal Worms
• Hair loss
• Prostate swelling

Stinging nettle is also found in many testosterone boosting supplements. Here, we will find out if it is effective in boosting testosterone and what scientific research says.

How does stinging nettle boost testosterone?

Stinging nettle is believed to boost testosterone by three mechanisms. It inhibits aromatase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Stinging nettle also inhibits 5a-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It binds with Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a protein, which binds to testosterone and makes it inactive.

What do the studies say?

Several animal and human trials have been conducted to understand how stinging nettle supplementation may impact testosterone levels. Here is a look at what some of these studies have revealed.

Study: Ameliorative effects of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) on testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia in rats

This study was conducted to understand the effects of stinging nettle on benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in rats induced by testosterone. The subjects were divided into various groups: one group received no treatment, the second received testosterone, the third received testosterone and drugs used to treat BHP and some received testosterone plus varying concentrations of stinging nettle root extract for 28 days.

Results:

The groups receiving stinging nettle had significantly higher testosterone levels compared to those receiving only testosterone treatment. The affect was attributed to inhibition of the enzyme 5a-reductase in the nettle groups (full study).

Study: Aromatase inhibitors from Urtica dioica roots

This study was conducted to find out if compounds extracted from stinging nettle could inhibit aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. The researchers isolated five different compounds from stinging nettle roots and mixed them each in a solution with biological material that contained aromatase.

Results

Each of the compounds isolated from stinging nettle root was effective in aromatase inhibition (11-24 percent).

Study: Lignans from the roots of Urtica dioica and their metabolites bind to human sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)

The study investigated the potential interaction of plants compounds known as lignans with human sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that transports and stores testosterone and other sex hormones. This interaction is important to study because once SHBG is bound to testosterone, it cannot be used by the body.

The research involved isolating multiple lignans from stinging nettle root extract and testing them separately in a solution containing dihydrotestosterone and SHBG, one of the sex hormones.

Results:

  • Except one, all lignans bound to SHBG. It resulted in less SHBG that could bind with DHT.
  • 3,4-divanillyltetrahydrofuran was found to be the most potent lignan as it could prevent 95 percent of DHT from binding.

Study: Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study

The research was conducted to investigate the effects of stinging nettle on the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It involved 558 patients of BPH. 287 patients were given stinging nettle extract, and 271 were given placebo for six months. After six months, the patients who received the placebo were switched to stinging nettle.

At the end of 18 months of medication, researchers found:

• Improvement in International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) and the maximum urinary flow rate (Qmax) with medication
• Serum Prostatic- Specific Antigen (PSA) and testosterone levels remained unchanged

Stinging nettle dosage for increased testosterone

There are no recommendations for correct dosage of stinging nettle for increasing testosterone. However, most supplements recommend 250-750 mg.

Potential side effects of stinging nettle

Stinging nettle may cause some minor side effects such as sweating and an upset stomach. It is largely considered safe and well-tolerated, with very low toxicity.

Overview

We don’t have enough conclusive evidence in support of stinging nettle’s efficacy as a testosterone booster. Most of the studies conducted on humans are in vitro, i.e., they have been performed on isolated cultures and not on humans themselves.

The only study that has been conducted on humans has failed to show any positive results. So, we cannot really call it a strong testosterone booster unless more scientific research is conducted.