Dead nettle (for that matter even white nettle) is a flowering plant belonging to the family Lamiaceae. The scientific name of both these nettle varieties is Lamium album. These plants are found growing naturally in an assortment of habitats including open meadows, woodlands, usually on damp and fertile soils.
The white variety of dead nettles is found flourishing next to walls, on the banks of water bodies and several other common places. These plants are native to the mountainous regions of western Asia and Eastern Europe. Over the years, these species have spread to various people along with people. They have spread across Europe to reach the southern regions of Finland mixed via hay, soil, manure and seed mixes. The seed of these plants remain viable for a prolonged period and possess the ability to germinate successfully even after lying dormant for a millennium!
In the wild, white nettle seeds are dispersed by ants. However, this is certainly a very sluggish means to spread over large distances. Perhaps, the white dead nettle has spread by design in the form of a tincture prepared from the flowers, which is employed for treating several health conditions. In Finland, the habitats of this plant don't correspond to farming. Aside from the therapeutic uses of the plant, white dead-nettle is also used for ornamental purposes. In addition, this species is also quite nutritious.
Dead nettle is a perennially growing herbaceous plant, which reaches a height of anything between 50 cm and 100 cm. The plant has a green four-angled stem. The leaves of this plant measure about 3 cm to 8 cm in length and anything between 2 cm and 5 cm wide. The leaves are triangular, while their base is rounded. They are mildly hairy and have a serrated margin plus a petiole that is roughly 5 cm long. Similar to several other plants in the family Lamiaceae, apparently dead nettle is akin to the stinging nettle (Uritica dioica). However, dead nettle plants do not sting. This is possibly the reason why the species is known as "dead nettle".
The flowers of this species are white in color and they appear in whorls or "verticillasters" on the top portion of the four-angled green stem. Individually, the flowers are anything between 1.5 cm and 2.5 cm in length. Dead nettle is a good bee plant. In addition to bees, several insects also visit these flowers.
White dead nettle offers a number of health benefits. This plant is known to possess astringent and demulcent properties. As a result, this herb is mainly used in the form of a uterine tonic with a view to stop inter-menstrual bleeding and also to lessen excessive flow during menstruation. In traditional medicine, white dead nettle is commonly used for treating unusual vaginal discharge. In addition, it is also used internally to provide relief from excruciating periods.
The flowering tops of white dead nettle possesses astringent, antispasmodic, diuretic depurative, cholagogue, sedative, tonic, expectorant, styptic, vulnerary and vasoconstrictor properties. An infusion prepared from the flower tops is used for treating problems related to the kidneys and bladder. This infusion is also effective for treating diarrhea, menstrual issues, and hemorrhage following childbirth, prostatitis and vaginal discharges.
The external use of this herb includes applying it as compresses to piles, vaginal discharges and varicose veins. The flowers and leaves of dead nettle yield distilled water that is a wonderful medication for eye problems. This distilled water is used effectively in the form of an eye lotion to alleviate conditions related to the eyes. This plant is also used to prepare a homeopathic remedy, which is used for treating amenorrhea and conditions related to the kidneys and the bladder. White dead nettle can be harvested during the summer months, dried and stored for future use.
The flowers of white dead nettle enclose certain chemicals that are effective in reducing swellings and also breaking up mucus. Various extracts obtained from this plant are employed for skin care.