Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Nettles to treat arthritis

Posted on by royvickery |

P-LA contains many records of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) being used to treat or prevent arthritis, typically:

For arthritis – well, for pains in the kneees – I’ve always heard that you should walk into a bunch of stinging nettles, but it’s a sort of old wives’ tale really.

Is this remedy, which was formerly widespread throughout Europe, still used today? Does anyone know of anyone who still uses nettles to treat or prevent arthritis and similar conditions?
Please send any records or comments to


1. From a man attending a meeting of the Preston Society, 9 October 2017:  ‘I’ve used nettles to treat arthritis.  I had two fingers which were really swollen with arthritis.  I tried to sting them with nettles, but couldn’t.  I could sting the other fingers, but not the big ones.  But the arthritis went.  A sort of coincidence.’

2.  From David Keane, July 2018:  ‘In the summer of 2010 I was walking a section of the Tunbridge Wells Circular, a 25 miles circular walk in the country around Tunbridge Wells.  I think it was near Pembury where I met a man of around 70 who was collecting a bag of stinging nettles from the roadside which he said his wife would put on affected limbs to relieve arthritis.’

3.  From a woman attending an event at the Streatham Common Community Garden, London, 3 March 2019:  ‘Liverpool.  In the 1960s and 1970s my mother (b. 1933) had rheumatoid arthritis and would thrash her knees with stinging nettles, and feed herself and family nettle soup.’

Updated 3 March 2019.

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