Every (Wo)Man’s Adaptogen: Nettle Seeds & The Adrenals
I’ve always been a bit intrigued by adaptogens (SUCH a trendy word), but the fact that they tend to come from far away lands combined with their often (for me) over-stimulating effects have kept me from using them very much personally. I do occasionally recommend Ashwaganda or Eleuthero root to others, but generally stick with my local allies in my practice. But I’ve been keeping my eye out for local nutritive tonics and adaptogens. It’s fairly unusual to find such a plant in the Gila, most of these plants seem determined to keep us cool, calm and disinfected (I’ve never met so many anti-infective plants in one place before!), we do have Wild Licorice here, but even that tends to run a bit to the bitter, cooling side in this ecosystem. And lately, people have been calling Nettle an adaptogen.
Now, I’ve loved Nettles for a long time and I’ve used her medicine in all sorts of ways, as a nourishing mineral packed infusion, as a vibrant bang of green tincture, as an itch soothing salve, as the worlds best green, as a garden fertilizer and even as an aid to awareness when I’ve obliviously stepped into her midst. Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot on her energy in soup, tincture and infusion form as an aid to my struggling adrenals. Nettles in any form taken internally seem to be an excellent aid in mineralizing the body, boosting energy, regulating blood sugar levels, calming allergies, draining dampness (water retention etc), reinforcing the immune system and even helping heal kidney and bladder problems as well as myriad other uses. What more could one ask for then? And yet, Nettles has even more to offer, much has been reported of late in its ability to treat BPH and severe Kidney dysfunction. Recently, Darcy Williamson wrote of an formula to be used in painful childbirth of two parts Nettle root to one part Nettle seed. She uses a tincture of fresh root and fresh seed for her preparations.
And yet, there’s more. About a year ago I read Henriette’s wonderful blogpost on using Nettle seed as an adrenal adaptogen, and then I saw Jim McDonald’s piece on using Nettle seed tincture for stress, and I thought to myself. “I NEED some of that stuff” so I’ve been pacing around waiting for the Nettles to come into seed this season. And here they are! About two weeks ago I went and gathered a handful of fresh nettle seeds, I carefully rolled them around and separated them from the the other plant bits (and hopefully broke all the stinging bits) and ate a pinch. I felt rather like I’d ingested some high quality amphetamines, heart racing a bit, a strange zooming sound in my ears and an overall semi-jittery “high” feeling. Nice, if you’re into that kind of thing but not what I hand in mind. Ryan Drum reports that a decoction made of the fresh green seeds taken to excess can cause one to experience days and nights of wide awakeness. I believe it
Then, Rebecca Hartman pointed out to me that perhaps there’s a difference between green and dried seed since she’d never felt overtly stimulated by her Nettle seeds. So hmmm, I spread my Nettle seeds out and waited for them to dry. Then I tried a pinch of nice dried seed, tasty. And no zooming sound! Instead, I felt rather rejuvenated, like I’d had several extra nights of good, deep sleep, and miracle of miracles I no longer nearly pass out every time I stand up from bending over or sitting down (incredibly inconvenient for gardening or wildcrafting, one second you’re happily plucking flowering Skullcap tops, you straighten up to check out an eagle overhead and the next minute you’re on your face in the dirt, ugh) like I have for oh, the last ten years. One pinch of Nettle seeds lasts me for about four to five hours I think, and banishes that buzzy, overheated, exhausted feeling I’ve been living with for so long (no matter how much sleep), as well as really really helping the insane carb cravings I’m prone to (being allergic to gluten and not eating many sweet things, this can be a problem). I haven’t yet had the chance to experience the effects over a long period of time, but I expect (in the way of Nettle) them to be nutritive and to build adrenal strength over time.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever taken any herb or food that gave me energy without worsening my chronic shakiness or heart palpitations (my name is Kiva, and I’m an adrenalholic, heh), so I was very impressed to find this quality in Nettle seed. It’s not replacement for proper nutrition, lifestyle changes and such but it’s certainly an amazing adjunct to these treatments. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to take with significant amounts of caffeine, but I haven’t tried it.
Other herbalists seem to use more towards a teaspoon of dried seed as a dose but a pinch does me very well. I’m excited to tincture the seed as well as making a honey paste/pills (a la Henriette) for further versatility. I can totally imagine a really lovely Nettle seed honey paste made with a wee bit of bee pollen, a smidge of cinnamon and a sprinkle of powdered Elderberries and Rosehips for an overall daily tonic, yummmm.…. One could add a bit powdered Cacao, unrefined Coconut oil and homemade Hazelnut butter for special occasions. Nettle seed truffles anyone? Coming right up
Something I have done that’s just lovely is ground dried Nettle seeds, blended with ground Kelp, Sesame seeds, Coriander, Cumin and a bit of Sea Salt: the best seasoning ever!
Oh, and that very lovely picture to the left is the birthday portrait Loba did of me that I promised to post! And to think, before I introduced her to watercolors, she claimed she couldn’t paint!