Stinging nettle seeds are a nutritious powerhouse with numerous healing benefits that have been used in herbal medicine since ancient times. Learn when and how to forage them and quick and simple recipes you can try at home.
With its wide array of benefits, it is no wonder why stinging nettle seeds continue to be used in herbal medicine today.
Even though it is autumn, don’t ignore nettles as you can still benefit from their nutritional value. While nettle leaves are best to forage in early spring, seeds and roots are best to collect in early autumn.
I like stinging nettle leaves to prepare a detox smoothie or soups, or I just use nettle to make wild herb butter. Nettle seeds, on the other hand, I use differently.
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In this article you will learn
- Why are nettle seeds nutritious and their benefits for our health
- How and when to forage them
- Harvesting techniques
- How to use them
- Recipes with nettle seeds
Nettle seeds - a nutritious powerhouse
The most nutritious part of the nettle is hidden in its seeds. While the whole plant contains vitamins (A and C) and minerals ( iron, magnesium, calcium, and silicon), nettle seeds are also rich in fatty acids and vitamin E. Therefore very beneficial for our skin and nervous system.
BENEFITS OF NETTLE SEEDS
Nettle seeds are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and polyphenols which help protect cells from damage due to free radicals.
Rich in Nutrients.
They are a good source of minerals and vitamins, including iron, magnesium, and vitamins A and K.
Nettle seeds contain triterpenes that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis.
Additionally, nettle seeds can help reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, which can help relieve congestion.
It may lower blood pressure.
The antioxidants present in nettle seeds may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
The anti-inflammatory properties of nettle seed can help promote healthy skin by reducing redness and irritation.
It may ease Enlarged Prostate Symptoms.
This study confirms the clinical use of nettle seed extracts for kidney issues and renal dysfunction. Today, many people use it to treat urinary tract infections during the early stages of an enlarged prostate (called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) which can lead to significant discomfort during urination.
Nettle seeds May Treat Hay Fever
They contain quercetin and rutin, which have been found to have anti-allergic properties. As a result, they can help reduce hay fever symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
Stimulant to improve mood, appetite and sleep.
In folk medicine, Nettle seed supports the adrenal glands and endocrine system, stimulates the body, and acts as a nourishing tonic when one is exhausted, tired, or burned out.
According to Research herbalist and forager, Monica Wilde - Seeds stimulate the nervous system and may help to improve mood, appetite, and sleep. They also influence memory and learning.
They are also used as an aphrodisiac that helps enhance libido.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions:
Nettle seeds are generally considered safe when used correctly. However,
some people may experience an allergic reaction to them. If you are unsure if you are allergic, it is best to consult your doctor before using them.
Additionally, nettle seeds can have adverse effects when taken in large amounts or combined with certain medications, so it is essential to speak with a healthcare professional before using them.
Nettle seeds are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women as they can act as a diuretic.
Stinging nettle may change the effects of medicines that affect blood pressure. These include diuretics and anti-hypertensives.
Harvesting nettle seeds
As the Latin name of nettle (Urtica dioica) suggests (dioica means two houses) they produce two kinds of plants - male and female. Male plants produce pollen to fertilize the female plants, which in turn, make the seeds.
Both plants are edible, but when it comes to harvesting the seeds, one must be careful to search for female plants as their seeds are full of nutritional goodies.
The female nettle is more massive and longer, and its seeds are pointing down, overhanging in slatted arrangements. The male flowers with four stamens are shorter, with stringier flowers that point out the corners. We only want to collect the seeds from female flowers as these are nutritious seeds we need.
Sometimes both flowers occur on one plant and the nettle is monoecious.
3 ways to harvest
- Either you can gather each seed cluster individually, holding the whole plant in one hand with gloves and using the other hand to remove the clusters one by one. The seeds are not stingy, so I didn’t use a glove on the other hand as it was faster.
- The second technique is to remove the leaves and then strip the entire stem with seed clusters into a cardboard box or bowl. That method was faster.
- The third technique is to strip the stem with leaves and seeds on the parchment paper that filters out the leaves.
The best time to harvest the seeds
Harvest the seeds in their unripe green stage when they contain the most oils and alkaloids. Once they turn brown, the seeds are of no use. This is usually during the summer month of July and August to early September, depending on the climate.
When fresh, they have the best nutritional value and can last up to 3 months. You can dry them and extend their shelf life to up to one year.
This time of the year I also harvest the nettle root that I use to make nettle extract.
Drying the clusters of seeds
I dried the whole clusters, simply spreading them on parchment paper and letting them dry for two days in a sunny place.
Then I pressed them through a sieve. Finally, with my hands, I rubbed them in between my fingers to remove the little stems. See the video for visualization.
When you go to harvest the seeds, take garden gloves to avoid any little stings.
Uses of nettle seeds
- A treasure of protein source, nettle seeds are easy to add to any smoothies, yoghurt, granola or oatmeal. They are very nutritious; one day, a teaspoon is all you need.
- If you want to make sure you use them daily, add them to sea salt and use them on salads or meals you don’t cook. Cooking will destroy most of their benefits.
3. I also like to add them to raw honey and spread them on toast, waffles or pancakes
4. They taste delicious and add to homemade crackers or nettle bread.
5. Substitute them for other seeds, such as poppy or chia.
6. I recently made these homemade pralines, and they taste wonderful. The recipe is easy; you need 100 g of homemade marzipan (made of almond flour and honey), two tablespoon of nettle seeds, 1 tablespoon of any other seeds such as poppy seeds or elderberry powder and 40 g of dark chocolate 70%.
a) Mix marzipan with poppy and nettle seeds and shape balls the size of cherries.
b) Dissolve the chocolate in a water bath.
c) Soak the balls in chocolate and leave them on baking paper to harden.
7. Nettle seeds can be made into a tincture, macerate them in 40% ethanol or infuse them in vinegar (ratio 1:5 - seeds: liquid). Crush the seeds before soaking them in liquid for four weeks. Then, strain them through cheesecloth and use 2 ml three times a day.
To stimulate the health benefits of highly nutritious nettle seeds, use 1-2 tablespoon a day. For many people, one teaspoon a day is sufficient.
When fresh, store them refrigerated for up to 3 months in an airtight container. When dried, use an airtight container and keep them out of direct light for up to 1 year; no need to refrigerate them.
The green nettle seeds have a crunchy texture with a pleasantly salty, nutty taste; this makes them easily addictive. In addition, they are softer and easy to eat, unlike other seeds.
Wow! I had never even considered harvesting the nettle seeds before! Now I'm going to be on the look out for them. Thank you so much for sharing this. And I loved the video - made the process super easy to follow!
This is so great! I know that nettle leaves are great for you, but never thought about the seeds. I need to keep an eye on places it grows wild to forage them next year!
Ekpenyong ofem inah says
This is great, learning, experiencing nature to the best of man kind.more ideas on the leaves and roots.
Tessa Zundel says
I just started growing nettle last year and have loved having it fresh for sun tea, etc. I didn't realize the seeds were so important - thank you! It looks like I have a male plant, so I think I'll carefully expand my patch and try some new seed to see if I can get a female plant in the mix.
Jarod Shuler says
Be sure that any herbal drying you do is NOT done in direct sunlight! Choose a room with good air circulation but away from the direct rays of the sun....
Hi Jarod, thanks for your advice, I used the sunny spot just for the photoshoot, not real drying:)