Passiflora – Anxiety and stress

Stress is an increasingly common factor in modern day lives and impacts both physically and mentally causing muscle tension, sleeping problems, nervous anxiety and irritability.

The need in these situations is for a mild but effective sedative that will not cause drowsiness or addiction even if taken long term. There are a number of herbs that work effectively on the central nervous system but some interact with other medication and others are not suitable for long-term use.

Passiflora has traditionally been used as mild sedative and anti-depressant, has no side effects or contra-indications, and can safely be taken long-term. When mixed with other sedative herbs its effects are strengthened.

Due to its anti-spasmodic properties, Passiflora can also be given to relieve muscle tension and intestinal spasms (gastro-intestinal symptoms are often linked to stress).

passiflora

Passiflora Incarnata – Passion Flower

History

The passion flower was well known to the natives of South American as a herbal remedy. The plant was also often used in Brazilian medicinal folklore. The passion flower was discovered by the Spanish doctor, Monardes in Peru in 1569.

Forty years later, it was introduced to Europe as an ornamental plant, for, long before the passion flower was included in the Europe’s treasury of medicinal plants, botanists were fascinated by this climber’s inflorescence. In his book De florum cultura, published in 1633, the Jesuit Ferrari saw in the various parts of the flower all of the instruments of the Passion of Jesus Christ:

  • the three-lobed leaves represent the spear,
  • the tendrils the scourge,
  • the three styles the nails of the cross,
  • the stigma represent the sponge steeped in vinegar,
  • the corona at the centre of the blossoms resemble the Crown of Thorns,
  • the ovaries on a stalk represent the chalice,
  • the five stamens the five wounds
  • and the stemmed ovary (androgynophore) the cup or – according to other interpretations – the post to which Christ was bound during the flagellation.

The Jesuits also gave the passion flower its Latin name, which is made up of the words passio or ‘suffering’, flos, the ‘flower’ and incarnata which means ‘to make flesh’, re-incarnation respectively.

The passion flower began to be used as a herbal remedy in the second half of the last century and was introduced via American homoeopathy. It is a well known sedative in low doses. The remedy’s cardiotonic properties were only recognised in France and in Switzerland. During the First World War it was used as a nerve sedative to treat shell-shock.

Habitat

The over 400 species of the Passiflora family are to be found in a primarily tropical habitat; for this reason this plant is nowadays a highly endangered species. Most of the species were found originally in the Southern States of the USA as well as in Central and South America.

Botanists and plant lovers were responsible for the worldwide dissemination of the plant early on, so that today, species of the plant can be found in all tropical and subtropical parts of the world. Some species are less sensitive to cold weather and can survive European winters, provided it is growing in a frost-free area.

For this reason the plant can sometimes be found growing wild. Nowadays it is produced from specially grown crops. The main areas of cultivation are in India, Florida, Italy and Spain.

Milk Thistle – Liver Detox

It should be apparent that the liver is one of our most important organs and needs to be kept functioning properly. Indications that the liver is not in peak condition include bad skin, a metallic taste in the mouth, bad periods, unexpected weight gain especially around the abdomen and lethargy.

A pure, unadulterated diet of natural foods contributes to maintaining a healthy liver – an excellent counter to the overindulgence to which we are particularly prone at the festive season.

Many people know that it is a good thing to detoxify the liver – recommended is spring and autumn – but they are unsure what to use, or have heard horror stories about the impact of a radical detox. However, as ever, there is a herb which can help at any time of the year – Milk Thistle. It is commonly used to help build a strong and healthy liver.

Milk Thistle – Silybum marianum

Many scientific tests have shown that not only has Milk Thistle the ability to strengthen the liver, it also supports the detoxification process that is so very necessary in keeping healthy in our polluted world.

Milk Thistle Complex contains three herbs traditionally used for their action on the liver. The major additional herbs are Artichoke and Dandelion. Practitioners use these herbs to enhance liver and gall bladder function and improve digestion.

Milk Thistle Complex is an ideal tonic to help restore the liver to its optimum function. The liver is the detoxification centre of the body and performs many vital functions. It stores vitamins and minerals, produces bile which is required for the breakdown of fat and is the main organ involved in the metabolism of food, drugs and hormones.

It converts food into useable energy units for the whole body. An under-performing liver can result in a wide range of health problems such as headaches, weight gain, chronic fatigue, allergies, skin complaints, constipation and nausea.

Living in tension and fear can also upset the liver. So it is of benefit to stop every once in a while and take stock of ourselves and contemplate the best avenues open to us. Keeping cool emotionally may be the best service we could offer to our liver.

Thus, we have to combine a sensible diet with emotional control, a philosophy that governs sound health principles if we want to keep our bodies and minds at their peak.

No VAT on health supplements!

First the Sugar Tax – now the Health Tax!

Government wants it both ways on health. 

In news which has sent shockwaves throughout the entire health and vitality sector, the Minister for Finance is reported to be eyeing up placing a flat rate of VAT on the majority of health food supplements by March 1st, 2019.

Food supplements would include everything, from your common multivitamin to keep a little pep in your step to Glucosamine Sulphate to help with achy knees or Vitamin D which is recommended for babies and supplementation during our long winter months. With the need for over 55s to keep healthy and maintain employment for social and economic reasons, diet, exercise and nutritional supplements have become key areas in supporting general well-being.

Up to now all these products have been treated rather benignly by successive governments and they were not treated as luxury items – which is where most consumer purchases would incur VAT. Today however we have learnt that Revenue wish to treat supplements in the way that other luxuries are treated and that some degree of tax will be imposed upon their purchase, whether it be 13.5% or indeed the upper rate of 23%.

Given the historical statements of Leo Varadkar on the issue of resourcing preventative healthcare, this is seen as a somewhat contradictory stance for the government to take up now. Speaking on the Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2014, the then Minister for Health Leo Varadkar is quoted as saying –This particular measure is  the keystone of the Governments policy in the area of primary care…… we are shifting the focus of healthcare from hospitals to the community, and from treating illness to maintaining good health“.

Considering that these items are being purchased by people primarily to maintain good health and by extension relieve some of the stress on the already overburdened health system then the idea of taxing it is seen as a somewhat bizarre initiative.

Revenue have previously offered that the justification for this move was to harmonise our treatment of these products with European tax code.  Ciaran Hurley, tax advisor, says “this is just not the case. We have been here before with herbal teas with the same arguments. In that case the Government backed down from applying VAT”. Health food retailers say that their customers will see it to be more a case of the government looking for yet another easy way to tax the consumers pocket and they will vehemently resist this move.

While we wait for a formal announcement at Budget 2019 or the Finance Bill, it is certainly expected that yet again consumers are being required to pay more for something which the Government should encourage rather than tax.

Matt Ronan from Evolv Health Store in Enniscorthy says “we expect there to be a wave of customer anger when it’s explained to people that products which they consider to be necessary to maintain their health are now to be taxed by a government that is struggling to provide a decent healthcare system”. 

Alan McGrath, Health Stores Ireland, which represents the retail health food sector, said “the application of the Sugar Tax and the setting up of support bodies like Healthy Ireland demonstrate that maintaining good health is a clear policy for Government, this policy should not be contradicted by the taxation regime. Applying VAT to food supplements would be completely inconsistent with the way they are regulated and with current Government policy on health”.

Contact details to get involved:

  • Matt Ronan, Evolv Health Store, Enniscorthy,  087-2926182, evolvhs@gmail.com
  • Alan McGrath, Health Stores Ireland, 087-1006721, alan@healthstores.ie
  • Technical queries relating to VAT, please contact: Ciaran Hurley, CKH Fiscal Services, info@ckhservices.com, Tel: 01-8600444

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