Just add water

(things to do with nettle seeds)

In the beginning, there was a seed. A small, unassuming thing, that contained all of the potential in the world. A seed of knowledge, a seed of intention, a seed of change.

I often picture the web of life as a series of movements and pauses– potentials, probabilities, things reaching their pinnacle and then starting all over again. With seasons, Fall and Spring are seasons of intense movement, whereas Summer and Winter are seasons of pause. There is movement towards the dark, and movement away from the dark, and then there is darkness and the absence of it. Or light and the absence of that; I’m not particular about how you choose to look at it. Then there are plant parts. Roots and seeds contain the movement, the potential, the change. They contain the sex, the creativity, the expression before its been expressed. By the time something is in flower, its potential is being expressed and there is a pause. And then the flower turns to seed, and seed bursts out and settles in the dark earth, and seed meets water, and seed meets sun and then, given the perfect conditions, something extraordinary can happen. The seed as the still point, the seed burning at the centre of the world, the seed that provides everything that is to come.

Of course I think its the same with people. But I compare people and plants a lot. People as cultivated roses and resilient dandelions and echinacea species that won’t germinate unless they’ve been frozen, or manzanita that needs trial by fire to reach its full potential. People as blackberry, or skullcap, or pine. Given the great propensity for diversity in the plant world, and how different we all are, I don’t think we could run out of variety when comparing us all. Except then, of course, there’s the whole ‘ish’ thing. You know, how a rose is rose-ish, but most of us try to not be us-ish at all. For some reason people strive to be great but they never strive to be themselves, and personally I think this is a silly oversight because if you’re not as yourself as you can be then how can you claim said greatness? But I ramble. Back to the seed. And back to potential.

Seeds contain the blueprint for the potential of the entire plant’s life, and its children, and its children’s children. If you have something that is a seed but also a trophorestorative (restores function to certain body systems or parts) then you have something very powerful indeed. Seeds, like roots, often nourish the deeper parts of the body, in some way or another. Schizandra seed, for example, which sucks the energy in like a tight corset for someone who is leaking outside themselves. Or milk thistle which nourishes and restores function to the liver. Or oat seed, which nourishes and restores function to the nervous system. Or nettle seed, which I have a massive jar of next to me, that I keep reaching into and nibbling on, which restore kidney function. But they do more than that. They nourish the adrenals, give an energy boost and mental clarity boost, they help with handling stress. They nourish and restore the body on a very basic level.

I gather a lot of nettle seeds every year, because I use the tincture in an exhaustion formula. But I’m always left with a lot too, and one of the things I always make is very simple: nettle seed salt. Because nettle seeds taste green and slightly salty already, having the two mixed together and sitting somewhere I can see it means I use it (whereas if I keep a little jar of nettle seeds that I’m supposed to nibble on, I forget). Sprinkled over scrambled eggs, or onto soups, or even over the top of hummus or other dips. It adds an interesting, green, nettley flavour that I personally am rather fond of. You can mix it with cayenne (if you’re a cayenne kind of person) or dried lemon rind (if you’re a lemony kind of person). I personally, do both. And then its there, and incredibly good for you (if you’re the type of person who tends towards being exhausted, stressed out, dried out, anxiety-prone and like your reserves are desperately in need of reinforcement), and you’re taking your medicine without even thinking about it…

For more information on nettle seeds. 

If you can’t find nettle seeds to make your own, I make a nettle seed and seaweed salt, and sell it in my shop HERE.

Nettle seed salt

1 cup nettle seed

grated rind of 3 lemons

a few good shakes of cayenne

1/4 cup salt

Those are my general quantities. Put everything in a blender or spice grinder and grind until its a uniform size. Then put in a salt shaker and keep somewhere you’ll use it.

  • Lisa from Iroquois

    How do you know when nettles are ready to be gathered? Is it just the time of year? Are they particularly dry or plump? Do the leaves stop ‘biting’ when you brush them? It’s an interesting notion – nettle salt.

    • elisa

      Good Morning!

      I cannot answer the ‘ripeness’ question. I CAN answer with a solution to the ‘bite’!
      If you are NOT allergic to salicylic acid (aspirin), you can masticate(chew) about 5 willow leaves, I used weeping type and have not tried any others, yet. Then spit the paste with the juice and the spit onto the ‘bitten’ areas. It removes the sting and so far for me, has prevented the little blisters one can get when trompting through nettles. Leave the paste on the area till it is dry or it falls off.

      I am not a doctor nor a medical professional. :)

      • fairybekk

        Ha! Yes, dock leaves work really well too, and I think that is the first plant ID pair I ever learned as a kid in the UK!

    • fairybekk

      Hi Lisa, for the leaves, they’re tastiest when young, before going to seed. Though I will eat them year round (I have a big patch in my garden). As far as the seeds go, I gather them when they’re bright and fluffy, and let them dry like that.

      The leaves don’t stop biting until they’re cooked :).

  • Wild Plant Forager

    What a LOVELY post! I enjoyed every single word of it. Thank you so much for sharing <3

  • elisa

    It sounds like, after following the link above, and several others in the information trail, that the seed may act as a steroid, like prednisone. If this is the case, much like the use of licorice root, one might need to be cautious if one had underlying use of any sort of corticosteroids or steroid, as this can actually cause the adrenals to stop producing altogether. It would also be icky to have any of the side effects from too much. The manic/euphoria being one of them. I didn’t find or see yet, of a ‘dose’ amount that marks efficacy and efficiency either. Personally, I must use such steroids for autoimmune and COPD issues, thus must be very cautious about dosing so as not to flare me or to cause me to taper too quickly because I am getting it in a form that comes within a food source. Thanks for the knowledge, it was interesting to research it.

    oh, PS. I did NOT cross check to see if steroid has any action on Creatine levels at all, I just noted the suppressant/replacement effects on Lupus patient in a case study and on the cancer patients, also used in the studies. I was not able to grab onto the statistical study size nor to determine how the study was done, as to double-blind and controlled and so on.

    • P

      Hi elisa,

      Having dealt with steroids for many years in the past for asthma treatment, and now having used nettle seeds on and off for years, I can completely attest to the fact that nettle seeds are NOT steroid-like (or licorice-root like) in action. In fact, using nettle seeds has been key in helping my body stay OFF of the need for steroids for many years now. The difference is that steroids take OVER the adrenals, so your own kind of forget what to do. Nettles, on the other hand, FEED the adrenals so that they once again have the strength to do what they were designed to do. The key phrase here is trophoRESTORATIVE. Steroids don’t restore ;-)

      Dosage-wise, it’s very, very small. Sprinkles, as Rebecca is talking about. I don’t find a precise dosage is needed because it’s very individual. Start small, build as needed. These don’t give the manic/euphoria that steroids due (nor the swing the other way after coming off of them), nor do they give the long lasting immunosuppressive effects of steroids (leaving you constantly getting sicker). They don’t buzz you up like caffeine, causing you to run around like the energizer bunny and burn your adrenals even more. What they do do is make you realize at 3 in the afternoon that you’re not completely on the FLOOR like usual, but you’ve managed to stay functioning. The only caution is that one not use nettle seeds without also honoring the need for rest/restorative behaviors (including the rest of one’s diet). Outside of that, though, these have been a key part in keeping me off meds, and much healthier & happier.


      :-) P

  • Aisling Blackburn

    great post, I collected nettle seed for the first time this year. After a few false starts I managed to gather a fine quality of seed. One youtuber stated that to remove the seed from the green husk. Is this what you do? It sounds like you are using both seed and husk. Love the seasoning recipe.

    • fairybekk

      Yep, I keep them together– maybe you need to remove the seed for planting? I have no idea. But I have never had a problem with keeping the seeds in their husks, and am really not a fan of extra work!

  • Desert Rose

    Perfect timing since I have been thinking a lot about seeds lately! My holy basil gave me tons of seeds this year and I was wondering if there was any benefit to using just the seeds… Maybe I will blend them in with the salt recipe.
    I had just recently ordered some nettle seeds to imitate the salt you sent with last spring’s surprise box. You inspire me <3

    • fairybekk

      Oh gosh, O, I bet that’d be really tasty. And I bet the tulsi seeds are kinda mind blowing… let me know how it goes?

  • Erin

    I have read your posts for a long time, and always greatly enjoy your perspectives and wonderful info. Yet, I’ve been wondering if there is a reason why someone would not be able to ingest nettle. You see, I have an odd health condition which no one has ever been able to figure out. However, there are certain things which tend to aggravate it more than usual. Nettle is one; apple cider vinegar is another. I’d love to take nettle, but even small doses make me loopy/dizzy. Any ideas? I’ve been gathering pieces about my weird condition, so when I saw this post I just thought I’d ask. Using nettle in a salt is such a creative idea, and I love all your reflections, too! Thanks!

  • Lynn

    Would love to hear about your exhaustion formula using nettles. Can you share? It’s funny how one can stumble upon items at just the right time. 110% exhausted from personal items and work, I turned on my computer to research supporting the adrenal system and your post was in my in box. I’ve heard about harvesting and using wild nettles (read about Hank Shaw’s nettle pasta) but am not familiar with this plant. Informative post and interesting comments.

  • Kevin

    Awesome post! I love the comparison of those changing times in spring and fall to seeds and roots–transition zones.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Amy

    Hi there!

    I love this blog. I am very passionate about healing with whole foods and herbs, and this is one of the better resources I have come across – so informative and in depth.
    I was wondering if you might recommend some required reading for me. I have been considering attending a school of natural health to take a course in Western Herbalism, but my budget does not permit it at this time, and I would like to do some research of my own while I decide where to go from here. Considering an internship if possible, and it would help to have a good primer.
    I have ordered Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, but would appreciate some additional suggestions, including one specifically regarding herbalism.
    Thank you!

    • fairybekk

      Soooo, I started a conversation on facebook that you can find here:

      Asking people about what herbs they’d recommend for people wanting to get into formal learning.

      If you’d like to email me to discuss schools and teachers I’d be delighted to give you a list of awesome people, too.

      And I think a book list is a good idea. Am planning on re-doing this website in the next month or so and I think I’ll make a tab for that :).

    • fairybekk

      Oh, and one more thing. Plant Healer Magazine is bloody brilliant, and has a whole range of articles from inspirational to technical, from beginner to advanced. Its really a wonderful publication and is in my opinion at the forefront of herbal thinking in the modern age.

  • Cynthia

    I loved the plant-person reflection and the conditions each of us need to thrive, makes me wonder how I never thought about that before. Oh, and nettles of course. Who doesn’t love nettles?

  • Laura

    Any idea how long the seeds keep unrefrigerated (oops)?

    • fairybekk

      Oh they’re fine for ages– I have a bunch dried too, and they work just as well.

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  • sarah

    Rebecah. You and your work, your shop and lifepath have made an inspiring mark on me. Oh and the nettle salt recipe! Have you tried nettle milk? Soaked for a few hours, blended then stained. It is to be drunk a shot at a time or added to some good pancakes.

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