Determining the Parameters of the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) Hydrolate Distillation Process

Molecules. 2022 Jun 18;27(12):3912. doi: 10.3390/molecules27123912.


Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) is a common perennial herb well known for its therapeutic, cosmetic and food use. Despite the popularity of nettle hydrolate, there is currently no literature describing its composition; likewise, there is still a lack of research describing in detail the parameters of hydrolates in general. U. dioica hydrolate fractions were obtained by industrial steam distillation of fresh herb. Total stinging nettle hydrolate was prepared by mixing an equal volume of each fraction. The volatiles were isolated from hydrolate samples by liquid-liquid extraction with diethyl ether, and analysed using GC-FID-MS. Over eighty volatile compounds were identified in U. dioica hydrolate. The main group of constituents were oxygenated compounds, mainly alcohols (e.g., (E)- and (Z)-hex-3-en-1-ol, carvacrol) and oxides (e.g., caryophyllene oxide). The content of volatiles in the representative sample of total hydrolate amounted to 58.2 mg/L. Some qualitative and quantitative changes in the composition of U. dioica hydrolate were observed during the progress of distillation. The content of low chain aliphatic alcohols ((E)- and (Z)-hex-3-en-1-ol) decreased, whereas the percentage of some monoterpene alcohols (carvacrol and α-terpineol) increased. The total content of volatiles in hydrolate also changed and decreased (128.0-6.2 mg/L) during distillation progress. According to our results, to produce stinging nettle hydrolate of good quality, the proper relationship between the amount of hydrolate and raw plant material should result in obtaining 0.74 L hydrolate from 1 kg of fresh stinging nettle herb. Therefore, it may be assumed that the high alcohol content may increase the microbiological stability of the product.

Keywords: Urtica doica L.; Urticaceae; hydrolate; secondary metabolites; stinging nettle; volatile compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohols
  • Urtica dioica*
  • Urticaceae*


  • Alcohols

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.