Why are dock leaves used on nettle stings?
Although it is taken as gospel by just about everyone, the dock-leave antidote for nettle stings has never been proved scientifically. However, there are three reasons why it probably does work. First, the juice from dock leaves may contain soothing agents such as “natural antihistamines”. But this theory has been rubbished by cynical authorities who allege that these leaves contain “no pharmacologically relevant properties”. Second, it may be the act of rubbing, rather than the dock leaf, that relieves the sting; “counter-stimulation” is a common technique in pain clinics. And third, it may be a placebo effect: everyone expects the trusty leaf to provide instant relief, so it does.