The medicinal power of glasswort

Great glasswort belongs to the nettle family, but it does not sting. It is a perennial herb plant that usually does not grow higher than 80 cm, but sometimes it can reach a height of one and a half meters. The plant originally grows in central and southwestern Europe and parts of Asia. Over time, its distribution area has shifted northward. The plant is rarely found in the Netherlands and Belgium. It settled in Denmark, but it does not occur in the British Isles. Great glasswort is an edible plant and also has a small number of medicinal uses. It is mainly used as a diuretic and as a means to remove kidney stones. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing Great Glasswort / Source: Chrizz, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)


  • History of use of glasswort
  • Traditional internal use
  • Traditional external use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Great glasswort and its companions
  • Great glasswort as a diuretic
  • Glasswort for urinary tract infections
  • Dose and safety

History of use of glasswort

Great glasswort was known to physicians of the first centuries of the Christian era, who gave it for coughs, sore throats, skin diseases and tumors. It was a celebrated healing agent against the formation of kidney stones until the Renaissance. It retained some uses until the eighteenth century but was written about very derogatorily in the nineteenth century. Therefore, it is little used today, despite a high number of favorable studies. In rural areas in Europe, such as large parts of France, people still have confidence in the plant.

Traditional internal use

Here is a traditional folk recipe for glasswort. It is a recipe to make your own infusion of Parietaria officinalis .

Inflorescence glasswort / Source: Kurt Stüber, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

It is used as a diuretic.

  • Use 10 grams of fresh herb, first wash thoroughly,
  • or 15-30 g of dried plants per liter of water,
  • season with lemon zest and/or fennel,
  • Boil the herb with its seasonings for 10 to 15 minutes.

Drink 4 cups per day of this infusion or tea for therapeutic use. This infusion helps with kidney stones, oliguria or too little urine production, bladder infection, kidney infection, dropsy, lung congestion and flu. It is considered a purifying agent and is used for rheumatic diseases. The juice is prescribed in folk medicine for certain nervous disorders; against epilepsy and fainting.

Traditional external use

A compress of crushed leaves has a soothing effect on superficial burns. Furthermore, it is applied externally to hemorrhoids, bruises, wounds, inflammations and ulcers.


In Latin, large glasswort is called Parietaria officinalis . A Latin synonym for this plant is Parietaria erecta . In Dutch it is called large glass herb or glass herb. The plant got this name because the leaf was previously used to clean glasses.

Active substances

The entire herb growing above ground is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following active substances: flavonoids including glycosides of quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin, tannins, mucilages, bitter substances, potassium salts, calcium oxalate and sulfur.

Great glasswort and its companions

Great glasswort is a mild diuretic. That is to say: it is a diuretic herb. In phytotherapeutic practice it is usually combined with other diuretic medicinal plants such as cat’s thorn, pendula, rough birch leaf, Javanese kidney tea or kumis kucing and juniper berry.

Great glasswort as a diuretic

The diuretic effect of glasswort is used for a large number of indications. Fluid retention has various causes. One of those causes is that there is too much waste in the body. These can be encapsulated by fluid accumulation. The waste products can develop into conditions such as kidney stones and arthritis and osteoarthritis. In phytotherapy, diuretic herbs such as glasswort are used for the following indications:

Parietaria officinalis / Source: Franz Xaver, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Edema or dropsy,
  • Reduced kidney function,
  • Oliguria or defective urine production,
  • kidney stones,
  • Kidney grit,
  • Rheumatic conditions such as osteoarthritis and arthritis,
  • Blood purification cures.

Glasswort for urinary tract infections

Great glasswort is a soothing and anti-inflammatory agent for the urinary tract. When a soothing effect on the mucous membranes is desired, this plant can serve as an excellent addition to a herbal mixture. It is mainly used by phytotherapists for:

  • Renal pelvic inflammation,
  • Cystitis.

Dose and safety

There are three ways to use this medicinal plant.

  • 40 drops of mother tincture three times a day.
  • Three times a day an infusion that has been boiled for 10 to 15 minutes of two teaspoons of dried herb per tea glass.
  • 1 to 2 ml of tincture three times a day (1:5 in 40%).

No side effects are known at therapeutic doses. This plant is a safe remedy. It can also be eaten as a vegetable.