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Stinging nettle trials for osteoarthritis

Trial 1

The effects of nettle as a possible local painkiller were examined in 27 people with osteoarthritis-related pain at the base of their thumb. Participants were told that the study was testing two types of nettle leaf but were randomly given either a nettle leaf or a placebo leaf to apply to the painful area daily for one week. Participants continued on their usual treatment during this period. They then stopped using the leaf for five weeks and used the other leaf for one week afterwards.

  • Participants using nettle leaves reported less pain and disability compared to those who used the placebo leaves.
  • The difference in pain reduction remained significant during the first week following treatment and then disappeared gradually thereafter.

Trial 2

The potential beneficial effects of stinging nettle were examined in 42 people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Participants were randomly allocated to apply either stinging nettle or another type of nettle (which isn’t thought to treat osteoarthritis) to their knees for one week.

  • Participants in both groups had a similar mild but insignificant reduction in pain scores.
  • Those using stinging nettle had only minor and short-term skin irritation.


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