World Wide Words logo

Urtication

Pronounced /ɜːtɪˈkeɪʃən/Help with IPA

Your favourite word site may be accused of nearing the knuckle (a British idiom meaning verging on the indecent), since urtication — flogging with nettles — has been advocated for erotic stimulation in various cultures. But it’s known best as a method of provoking inflammation, a folk remedy for several ailments.

Nettles

Have you urticated yourself today? People have been doing it for a couple of thousand years to relieve arthritis pain, hives, rashes and even sciatica. To perform urtication, all you need is a nettle plant and a glove. Put on the glove, pick up the plant, and smack yourself repeatedly. ... Urtication is not recommended.

The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, by James A Duke, 2000.

The word can be traced back to Roman times. Latin urtica is the stinging-nettle, a name in turn taken from the verb urere, to burn. The medical term urticaria refers to a condition of the skin that’s also called nettle rash and hives.

Romans are said to have performed the nettle-flogging technique with other aims in mind than easing arthritis:

Dreading the English climate, [Romans] brought nettles to plant around their first camp in Kent, intending to use them as food, animal fodder and, more bizarrely, as a quick heating system. A flogging with nettle stems was, they had discovered, just the thing for warming chilly limbs. Enthusiasts might like to know that it’s called urtication.

Independent, 22 Sep. 2001.

Page created 8 May 2010

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-urt1.htm
Last modified: 8 May 2010.