Evaluation of a root extract gel from Urtica dioica (Urticaceae) as analgesic and anti-inflammatory therapy in rheumatoid arthritis in mice

  • Jia-Cheng Liao
  • Zhao-Xia Wei
  • Zhong-Ping Ma
  • Chang Zhao
  • Dao-Zhang Cai
Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis, Urtica dioica, Stinging nettle, Anti-inflammatory activity, Analgesic activity, Herbal therapy


Purpose: To develop and characterize an herbal gel prepared from methanol root extract of Urtica dioica (Urticaceae) (Stinging nettle) for the treatment of arthritis in mice.
Methods: A methanol root extract from Urtica dioica was prepared, and a gel was then prepared using Carbopol 934. The prepared gel was subjected to various physical tests (color, appearance, pH, texture, viscosity) and in vivo evaluation, including primary skin irritation, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory tests, in arthritic mice and compared with 2 % indomethacin gel, which was used as standard.
Results: The prepared herbal gel was of light gray color with a smooth texture. It showed a pH of 7.1 and a viscosity of 21.2 cps. The gel exhibited pseudoplastic rheology, as evidenced by shear thinning with increased shear rate. It was non-irritating to the skin in primary skin irritation test in mice and showed 55.05 % inhibition of paw edema in a carrageenan-induced hind rat paw edema model, comparable to that of the standard gel (53.93 %), after 24 h. The gel showed 58.21 % analgesia, versus 61.19 % analgesia for the indomethacin gel standard in writhing test.
Conclusion: The topical gel from methanol root extract of U. dioica may be an efficacious and safe alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis but this requires further investigations to ascertain its safety and clinical efficacy.

Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis, Urtica dioica, Stinging nettle, Anti-inflammatory activity, Analgesic activity, Herbal therapy


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-9827
print ISSN: 1596-5996