You can get a cheery mood and energy boost from nettle leaf and particularly from raw dried nettle seed (technically fruits and seeds), rubbed through a sieve to remove the irritating hairs.
The ‘feel-good’ factor from eating raw dried nettle fruits/seeds is caused by the neurotransmitters acetylcholine nd serotonin, with choline and histamine also found in uncooked nettle venom. In herbal medicine they are used as an adrenal tonic for people who are burnt-out, run down, fatigued and low in energy, zest for life and libido.
Acetylcholine is the most abundant neurotransmitter in our brains. It stimulates the nervous system (ANS), improving mood and heightening sensory perception, attention span, vigilance and intuition. Acetylcholine disruption may be a primary cause of depression and possibly Alzheimer’s and muscle degeneration.
Serotonin is mainly found in the gut and it also acts on the nervous system (CNS). Its main functions include regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep, and it influences memory and learning.
HOW TO USE IT
Nettle seed is used therapeutically both as freshly picked seed and as fresh nettle seed tincture.
Chew 5-20 grams of fresh green nettle seed well, as a refreshing stimulant. You can take 1 to 2 tablespoons a day.
Some people experiment with nettle seed for recreation but I advise against exceeding this amount.
Be careful too, if you boil fresh nettle fruit/seed in a ratio of 1:12 (eg 50 grams fruit/seed to 600 ml of water), a large wineglassful (250ml) may keep you wide awake for 12-36 hours!
Serotonin in nettle spines causes pain when you pick them! Its abundance in many seeds and fruits may be to stimulate the gut to expel the seeds, and it can cause diarrhoea in quantity.
Incidentally, the prescence of acetylcholine in nettle venom may well explain the reason behind the ancient practice of urtification (being whipped with nettles for pain relief)! Anything that increases the presence of acetylcholine in the synaptic space is found to produce analgesia (pain relief). Benzodiazepines for example act as analgesics through their action of enhancing acetylcholine release.
NETTLE FOR DINNER
Nettle seed also tastes delicious toasted and can be used instead of poppy seed in crackers, bread and sprinkled with chopped nuts into salads. So enjoy and remember to wear gloves when you pick them!
by Monica Wilde
Wychmoss Herb Farm