The chemicals of stinging nettle trichomes are generally neurotoxins. It based on the data from the report of the research team from Australia who studied the chemical content of Dendrocnide excelsa and Dendrocnide moroides. Their data is not much different from the report of compoundchem.com using Urtica dioca as a subject.

In general, if you look at the symptoms after being stung, the chemicals in the trichomes tissue looks don’t seem much different. What is most miserable are some of the neurotoxic toxins that enter the skin through the pores. The difference is possible in concentration and quantity in each species.

The leaves and stems are full with the trichomes. Very large in number and small in size. Trichomes on the Pulus, needle-like, with a sharp tip. But at the very top, there is a small round structure with a base that breaks easily. This trichome is actually a tube structure containing a concentrated liquid of various chemical compounds.

The Chemicals of Stinging Nettle (Pulus) Trichomes And Responsibility For The Pain Are:

  • Histamine
  • Acetylcholine
  • Serotonin
  • Formic Acid
  • Oxalic acid
Chemicals of stinging nettle

Histamine

Our body producing histamine regularly in the normal concentration. The body will produce compounds when we have an allergy or infection. This compound is an organic nitrogen compound that functions as a neurotransmitter related to the inflammatory response and itching that we feel on the skin of the body.

The function of histamine is to protect the body by activating the immune systems against allergies or infections. In addition, histamine also plays a role in the digestive process in the stomach.

What if the excess histamine concentration is much higher than the normal threshold? Especially when the Pulus trichomes sting our skin. Immediately our body reaction similar to an allergic reaction. Starting from itching, rashes, headaches, shortness of breath, skin redness, and weakness. These symptoms are typical of all peoples I saw when they stung by the Pulus trichomes.

Acetylcholine

Acting as a neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine functions to stimulate muscles to contract and signals from one other cell in a chain. In addition to this, Acetylcholine also functions in widening blood vessels, increasing the secretion process, and reducing heart rate. Due to its vital role, all cells in our body contain this compound. And under normal conditions, the concentration will be within a reasonable threshold. What if the body suddenly gets additional acetylcholine from the Pulus trichome? What happens? Visually, the skin will become a rash, redness, blisters, and peeling.

Serotonin

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that correlates with mood. Stress and depression will happen when the serotonin is at a low level. The nervous system in the body plays a role in producing serotonin in reasonable amounts. Serotonin functions are to regulate blood circulation, the balance of body temperature, digestive system, respiratory system, to nerve and brain cell functions.

However, what will happen when our bodies immediately receive a surge in serotonin concentrations?. Our body will immediately react such as headaches, muscle spasms, trembling, nausea, cold sweat, and hallucinations.

Formic acid

The easiest thing to remember when we mention formic acid is ants. A compound produced by ants and some Hymenoptera. formic acid itself comes from Latin (Formica = ants). Ants produce this compound for the defense system against predators and increase the pain effect besides the bite.

When formic acid enters the skin, it causes a burning and painful sensation. Formic Acid is one of the chemicals present in the Pulus trichome. Many people asking about how the feeling after sting by the Pulus? The illustration is like an ant bite you. Let’s just say that one ant is one trichome, and there are tens or hundreds of trichomes that just have to multiply the pain.

Oxalic acid

Oxalic acid is corrosive to tissues and causes a burning sensation. With a concentration of only 71 mg / Kg, this chemical compound is already fatal to the human body. Apart from the effects of burns, other effects of this compound are nausea and skin irritation.

When The Body Exposed By 5 Of These Chemicals

Imagine when the concentration of these Chemicals of Stinging Nettle. 3 neurotransmitters immediately increase simultaneously with the 2 concentrated acid compounds. Our bodies will definitely be in shock and the impact will feel immediately. Finally revealed the body’s reaction when stung. The impact will directly feel; intense itching, burning, and pain.

If one trichome is already painful, just imagine when tens or hundreds of trichomes sting our skin. All these chemical compounds are in high concentrations. The chemicals will stay in the cells for a long time until they absorbed by the water in the cells.

Illustration when stung by Dendrocnide stimulants

Heat, itching, and pain will continue and send to the brain until the concentration of these neurotransmitter compounds returns to normal. How long will it take?. It’s depending on how much and how high the concentration of these compounds when stinging the body. If only a few, in a matter of hours it will recover.

I felt this when I was stung by Pulus in the forest around Mount Galunggung, Tasikmalaya. Even though the one affected is quite wide. But after 3 hours, the symptoms had disappeared. The same thing was when I was stung in the forest around Mount Canggah, West Java.

How Long The Pain Caused By Chemicals of Stinging Nettle Will Disappear?

In contrast to the condition when he was stung by Pulus in the north of Burangrang mountain valley, West Java. In general, the effect is 2 weeks before completely disappearing. But once, the effects of itching and heat lasted for 2 months. One hypothesis is that even at the same location, the concentration and quantity of the chemicals of Stinging Nettle in the trichomes are high at that time. And it is mostly in the rainy season.

The impact is gradually diminishing. However, when the skin area that was stung is exposed to water, the pain will appear again. This is likely because all of these compounds dissolve in water. So that when water enters through the body’s pores, these chemicals will work again. This symptom will continue until the concentration of these compounds disappears.

References:

  • https://www.compoundchem.com/2015/06/04/nettles/
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464617300944
  • https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/769719/Formic_acid_PHE_GI_070119.pdf
  • https://www.ontariobee.com/sites/ontariobee.com/files/document/OA%20safety.pdf

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses

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