Gathering Nettle Seed

Kelly Baker, Clinical Herbalist.

My fingers are tingling, warm, and many points are the epicenters of vibration, rhythmic pulsing. It feels good actually! And, I now have a bag full of Nettle seed, picked with my own bare hands. The seeds are not yet brown, still quite green and some are flowering. I gathered these in my friend’s back yard where the Nettles are 6 feet tall, have their own garden box and heavy with seeds every 2 inches up and down the stem. This sensation is therapeutic, the blood is being rushed to the area where nettle’s formic-ish acid needle breaks off into the skin, it feels like a frenzy of vital force to those specific areas. Nettles don’t really hurt, but because it is different and therefore uncomfortable, I think many people put the sensation in the pain box. But really, try it, don’t label it, and you might like it!  Applying fresh Nettles (flogging them on your arthritic joints), needles and all is actually a remedy for rheumatism and arthritis- to activate and move the circulation and acts as a local anti-inflammatory (with no damaging effects to your liver). Michael Moore states: The old tradition of stinging a rheumatic joint with fresh Nettles seems to have some validity (aside from the fact that it has been done independently in dozens of traditional cultures). A recent British clinical trial (alright, twenty-seven patients) showed great improvement over a placebo when the base of rheumatoid thumbs were stung repeatedly for a week. Stay tuned. 

Michael Moore also says that the seeds are ‘an excellent lung astringent, particularly useful after bronchitis and such, to return tone and capillary strength to the bronchial mucosa.’ As well as a ‘good scalp conditioner and growth stimulant to the hair’, ‘because of the oils and traces of formic acid.’

Rosemary Gladstar states: The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated more acres of nettle than any other crop, and they used it extensively as food and medicine as well as in clothing. She says the seeds are a general tonic and for increasing stamina and energy, and includes them in a prostate tonic formula along with nettle root and leaf. 

Henriette Kress states: I’ve use nettle seeds for run-down, overly tired, burned-out, or just bone-weary people — folks who would do things if they just had the energy for it. Nettle seeds are adaptogens. They help with the general stress response, they strengthen the adrenals, and they’re loaded with minerals and trace elements. They are also known to have kidney trophorestorative action.

Henriette recommends running the seeds through a sieve to rub the stingers off before eating. But I just carefully chewed some up, the texture became quite mucilaginous, and no stings! I think the key here is to not swallow them whole. Some people find the fresh green seeds to be very stimulating and the dried seeds to have a more gradual effect. I will be using some of the fresh seed to tincture and then dry the rest for adding to yogurt or smoothies or soups..or…

I am also dreaming up a sort of hugelkultur type bed with buried branches and logs to cultivate a nettle patch as it loves moisture and our soil in Snowmass is pure shale, and dries out very quickly. Here’s to a lush, happy, healthy nettle patch growing in our back yard!

Thank you Nettle!

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