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Archive for Nervous system

Simples: Passionflower

As I have shared a number of times before, my first introduction to herbal medicines was as a young mother of three suffering from allergies. The effective, but sleep-inducing over- the- counter medications were not an option for me if I wanted to stay awake during the day, so I considered it a gift when a good friend introduced me to herbs. I used those herbs faithfully and considered the wisdom of my friend invaluable. I went to her many times with questions, and I do not think she was the least bit surprised when this tired mom went to her with the question of “what do you have for sleep?” Anybody with me on this? 😊

Passionflower was exactly what I needed.

Passionflower is a nervine due to its ability to strengthen the nervous system, particularly the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us relax and sleep more soundly. In a world where we face a great deal of mental and emotional stress, having this natural supplementation can mean a better night’s sleep.

Native to Eastern and Central United States, the Passionflower plant or Passiflora Incarnata has a perennial root from which a trailing vine of up to 20 feet can grow. It derives its moniker from characteristics in the plant’s blossoms that resemble a crown of thorns in the center and cross and wounds on other parts of the flower. All reflections of the Passion of Christ.

Written history has Passionflower first introduced into medicine around 1840 in the New Orleans Medical Journal. From there, many works were written to record the many benefits that include “induced sleep from Passiflora is a peaceful, restful slumber, and the patient awakens quiet and refreshed”.

Along with calming actions, Passionflower also has anti-spasmodic and hypotensive properties, making it a great option for muscles spasms and elevated blood pressure. It can be used alone, but can also be added to other herbals for effective blends:

  • For sleep: Passionflower blends very well with other nervine herbs such as Hops and Valerian.
  • To help combat Anxiety: Make a tea infusion of Passionflower and Lemon Balm.
  • For Muscle Tension: Mix with Lobelia
  • It has even help with a fast heart rate by combining with Hawthorne Berries.

Passionflower can be purchased in capsules and bulk form. To make a tea add 1 cup of boiling water to two teaspoons of dried Passionflower. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Enjoy.

Health and Blessings,

Kim Anderson
Natural Health Practitioner

Healthy Body Systems: Nervous

Again, we’ve completed a full year in which we covered the very important topic of how to cleanse each body system to allow it to function at an optimum level, free of toxins and sludge buildups.  Now this year, as we look at the proper functioning of these systems, we’ll consider “what does it take to allow the systems to have the nutrients to allow them to stay healthy.

This month, we’ll consider “care and feeding” of the nervous system. The basic function of the nervous system is to trigger and monitor all communication processes in the body. The Central Nervous System is composed of the brain, (which is the master controller, weighs an average of three pounds, uses 20% of the body’s total energy supply, and contains around ten billion cells) processes signals from the peripheral nervous system; the peripheral nervous system, which is a network of nerves branching out from the spinal cord and reaching throughout the body sending the electrical impulses; and the spinal cord, which collects the electrical impulses.

Neurons look like small squids with a large “head” section and a tail. The head receives message signals from other cells and pass then along to other cells through the “tail”. There are billions of nerve cells throughout the body, and these cells transmit their messages at the speed of about 400 feet per second. That is faster than we think! For example, think about touching a hot stove – we pull our hands back from the heat even before we recognize it burns!

A note from research done in the year 2000 said that prescriptions for antidepressants had increased over 100% in the previous five years. So how can we help to keep ours healthy? Here are some ideas:

  • Protect it from injury. Sports injuries, motor vehicle injuries, falls, and military type injuries account for many such nerve problems.  We should encourage safe practices and the regular use of protective gear where it is appropriate. Remember, some nerve damage may not be repairable!
  • Work “brain food” into your diet. One resource stated that green, leafy vegetables are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. And their research suggests that these plant-based foods may slow cognitive decline. Ensure you’re getting the omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish like salmon, cod and sardines. The flavonoids in colorful berries help improve memory and a Harvard study showed that strawberries and blueberries delayed memory decline by up to two and a half years. Caffeine from moderate consumption of tea and coffee also helps to solidify new memories. And walnuts, which look like small brains have helped in studies help improve memory!
  • And, of course, we recognize a number of supplements that enhance the function of the nervous system. Among them are B-vitamins which help support the system function; alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant known to relieve uncomfortable symptoms in the legs and arms; acetyl-l-carnitine which may raise energy levels, create healthy nerve cells, and reduce pain in people with neuropathy; n-acetyl-cysteine medically treats neuropathic pain and inflammation; curcumin is a favorite in the herbal world for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties; and fish oils!

Common problems associated with the nervous system include memory trouble, depression, insomnia, headaches, and other nervous disorders. If you have nerve issues, talk to us about supplementation that may be an answer for you.  We have a staff of five Naturopathic Doctors who would be willing to talk with you via a brief phone conversation if you live far away, or a private in-store consultation if you are local. Find the herbals that will work for you, and we’ll be glad to mail them to you. We offer 10% discounts to those who mention our blogs/podcasts and free shipping on orders over $50.

Add “nervous” to your list of Healthy Body Systems!

–  Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030 and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.