Lately I’ve been finding continual inspiration in the glowing green seeds of late summer. By green seeds, I mean the seeds that are formed and developing on plants, but are not quite ripe yet. Therefore they are green instead of brown, soft and yielding instead of hard, moist instead of dry. I like to think of green seeds as developing embryos. They carry the sacred information that makes up the blueprint for a plant or tree of the future.
There is something both precious and vulnerable about them. They are building up the materials and knowledge needed to nourish themselves. Once fully mature, they will be ready to sprout independently into a new plant, abundant with life force.
The embryo holds the core. The young spinal cord and its fluids, as well as its nearby organs, all tender and tiny, dwell in development within. Minerals and salts, proteins and oils comprise a rich fluid that surrounds it, providing it with essential food and protection.
Developing seeds have the ability to nourish us deeply, on a core level, reaching the most precious and vulnerable parts of us. They also protect us by strengthening our immune systems. And they do this largely by feeding our nervous systems. A strong nervous system responds to stress with quick, resourceful agility as opposed to an uneasy sense of needing to escape. There is an underlying calmness that comes from the sense that we have everything we need to survive and thrive. We feel safe.
In herbal medicine, some green seeds have long been known for their effects on the nervous system. Milky (or immature) oat seeds are a classic example. They’re often given to people recovering from a long period of stress or illness. People who need consistent, gentle support that restores deeply and gradually. Oat seeds carry a nutrient rich, milk-like fluid that is easily absorbed and is considered a “trophorestorative” (an agent of deep, nutritive restoration) for the nervous system. A delightful addition to tea blends, milky oats can also be very effective when preserved fresh as a milky-textured tincture.
Nettle seeds are remarkable agents of the kidneys and adrenal glands. They are useful in cases of adrenal fatigue, which results from excessive stress–a challenge familiar to many these days. In turn, they support hormone and immune function, as well as the nervous system when used as both a food and a medicine. I’ve seen marked improvements in the vitality of pregnant women adding small amounts (a pinch to a 1/4 teaspoon) of nettle seeds daily to their diet.
Even for those not in need of adrenal support, nettle seeds are a nutritious “super food”. I dry them on the stalks, and then grind them over a sieve to remove the stinging nettle hairs. Then I store them in jars for use throughout the winter. I like to sprinkle them onto my hot cereal, or onto soups or stews. Some people enjoy taking a small amount on a spoon with honey.
Lambs quarters also bulge with rich green seeds at this time of year. This summer has been an impressive growing year for lambs quarters in our gardens. We’ve been enjoying eating the deep green, spinach-like leaves all summer long. The leaves and seeds are high in vitamin C, minerals and proteins.
I like to blend them into pesto, along with our garden basil. The young seeds, with sunflower or pumpkin seeds make a pleasant (and more affordable!) replacement for pine nuts.
Plantain’s seed head somewhat resembles a spinal cord. I like the energy I get from chewing on the seeds, fresh from the stalk. I imagine their oils and minerals feeding the fluids between my vertebrae, and flowing along the nerve channels from there. One of my favourite teachers and authors, Matthew Wood, talks about the signature (resemblance) of a nervous system that can be seen in a plantain leaf’s vein structure.
Plantain reduces inflammation throughout the body. It boosts immunity and reduces allergic response. It’s a classic support for the core organs (the ones that develop first in the embryo) such as the kidneys, lungs and bladder, clearing infections, soothing irritations and restoring tone and function. I consider plantain to be among the safest and most reliably effective herbal medicines available.
Thus here I am in early September, finding myself drawn in to view up close the green, plump little clusters on the wild leafy plants. Miraculously storing sunlight, water and gifts of the soil, each in its own tiny package, green seeds are the bearers of light and hope. The care packages for the next leg of the journey, supporting a safe and vibrant future. With allies like them, I move forward with confidence and joy.