Nettle is an amazing plant which gives us medicine throughout the year. In spring we harvest the leaves to make nutritious pestos and soups, full of minerals, replenishing ourselves after the winter. As summer progresses, the nettles start to flower and we can no longer harvest the leaves. However, by August the female nettle seeds are plump and ready to harvest. They are touted as an adrenal tonic, encouraging the adrenals to secrete hormones like epinephrine, helping people who are low in energy. They also stimulate the neurotransmitters to release acetylcholine and serotonin, improving mood, regulating sleep and memory. Dopamine levels are also said to be affected, promoting happy feelings. The seeds are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which our bodies use to make omega 3 and 6. They are used for their anti-inflammatory actions and to nourish the kidneys. Some recent research has indicated that nettle seeds may have some effect on boosting the body’s immune system.
Harvesting nettle seeds
The seeds are found on the female plant, and once the male plants fertilise the female plants, the flowers die. Male flowers tend to be quite stringy with a purple tinge and are sparse, pointing straight out. Female flowers drop downwards and tend to hang heavily down with their many clusters of seeds. The seeds are almost pyramid shaped and can be gathered when they are green. You can use them fresh or dried.
Nettle seeds can be used in cooking by adding them to salts, crackers, oatcakes, nut and seed butters or putting them into energy balls.
For some people they can be very stimulating so start out with a small amount, and it is generally recommended to have no more than 30g as they might keep you awake at night.
Nettle seed ointment for joints
One of my teachers makes an old Roman herbal ointment with nettle seeds and rosemary - both potent topical anti-inflammatories. Rosemary also stimulates circulation without creating a lot of heat. It is used very effectively to ease inflammation and pain especially in small joints.
Put hazelnuts, nettle seeds, cinnamon powder, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cocoa powder to taste and dates in a blender. After blending, your mixture should easily stick together. Make ball shapes and put them in the freezer to harden. Once solid keep refrigerated.
Nettle seed salt
Put 4 tablespoons of nettle seeds, a tablespoon each of sea salt and black pepper, 2 tablespoons each of Rosemary and thyme and a pinch of cayenne into a grinder and power. Use as a herbal seasoning in salads, when cooking in place odd salt, or on rice.