St John’s Wort, effective in treating moderate depression

It is becoming more widely known that the herb St John’s Wort is as effective in treating moderate to severe depression as Seroxat, one of the prescribed options which has been known to provoke suicide and aggression. This is a serious endorsement of the humble herb.

Hypericum Perforatum, or St John’s Wort, as we more commonly know it; is a yellow flowered plant which contains many chemical compounds, including hypericin and hyperforin. The ancient Greeks were aware of its healing properties and used it to treat many ailments, including sciatica and poisonous reptile bites. In Europe it was, and still is, popular for the topical treatment of wounds and burns; ear infections, cold sores, and as a folk remedy for kidney and lung ailments; anxiety, as well as depression; and in other areas has long been used for mental disorders and nerve pain. Whatever the credibility of these traditional uses, we now do know that St John’s Wort is effective as a mild mood lifter and can help with SAD too. The standard recommendation for mild to moderate depression is 300 mg of St John’s Wort extract 3 times daily. Results can be noted as early as 2 weeks, and length of use should be discussed with a health-care professional. St John’s Wort is available as capsules, tablets and extracts.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

St. John’s Wort could, theoretically, make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, but this is rare when used at recommended levels. However, fair-skinned individuals should be alert for any rashes or burns following exposure to the sun. This shouldn’t be a problem in the winter in the UK. St John’s Wort can’t be taken with any other anti-depressants or with the contraceptive pill. So check with your doctor before use. Isn’t it good to know that there are natural, herbal products to help at such times. St John’s Wort is natural enough and can also give that added lift after a bereavement, or personal tragedy.

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Adam & Eve Pudding

 

Ready in 30 minutes

No added sugar

Gluten and wheat free

Low GI and GL

Serves 2

  • 1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced or two green apples *also works well with firm pears
  • 2 tbsp olive oil  
  • 2 medium free range eggs 
  • 100g ground almonds 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder 
  • 4 tbsp Sweet Freedom
  • crème fraîche to serve 

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4. 
  2. Grease and line the bottom of a 9 inch oven proof cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs for a few minutes until really fluffy and pale. 
  4. Lightly whisk in 3 tbsp of Sweet Freedom and the oil. 
  5. Whisk in the ground almonds, cinnamon and baking powder. 
  6. Arrange the apples over the bottom of the cake tin, drizzle with 1 tbsp of the sweetener then top with the almond sponge mix. 
  7. Bake for approx 30 minutes until springy on top.
  8. Turn out, slice and top with a spoon of crème fraîche. 

Chocolate Orange Truffles

  • No added sugar
  • Gluten and wheat free
  • Low GI and GL

Ready in 2 hours including chilling time

Makes 6 – 8 truffles

  • 40g ground almonds or cashews
  • 40g smooth unsalted peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp Sweet Freedom 
  • 40g Willie’s Venezuelan Black (100% Pure Cacao), melted or the darkest chocolate you can find which will have a small amount of sugar in.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder for dusting

 

  1. Place all ingredients except the cocoa powder in a food processor and pulse until smooth
  2. Roll into 3/4 inch balls
  3. Sprinkle the cocoa powder onto a plate and roll each truffle to coat
  4. Chill in fridge for two hours prior to serving

Buckwheat Pancakes

Ready in 15 minutes
Serves 4-6
No added sugar
  • 100g buckwheat flour 
  • 1 large free range egg 
  • 250ml your choice of milk 
  • 125ml water 
  • 1 tbsp Greek yoghurt 
  • groundnut oil to fry (you can use olive oil but this has a higher smoke point) 
  1. If using a blender, put all the ingredients into the bowl and pulse until smooth.
  2. If making by hand, whisk the flour, egg and milk together until you have a smooth paste. 
  3. Whisk in the water and yoghurt to make a smooth batter. 
  4. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, just enough to cover the base. 
  5. Add enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan and tilt pan to spread evenly.
  6. Cook until golden, then flip or turn over gently and cook on the other side.
  7. Repeat until all pancake batter is used up.
  • Gluten free
  • Wheat free (buckwheat is from the rhubarb family) 
  • No added sugar
Serving suggestions:
Stack pancakes, cover with sliced fresh berries and then drizzle the Sweet Freedom over the top.
Serve with fresh orange and lemon wedges, squeeze over the juice and then drizzle Sweet Freedom over the top.
Drizzle over a hot chocolate sauce.  
Version 1:  In a small bowl whisk together until smooth with no lumps; 2 tbsp boiling water, 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 2 tbsp Sweet Freedom.  Heat carefully in the microwave for approx 30 seconds, stirring at intervals until it has boiled or heat in a small pan, stirring on the hob until boiling point and it has thickened slightly.  
Indulgent version 2:  Break up 100g of 100% chocolate (or the darkest chocolate you can find which will have a small amount of sugar in it)  into a small pan and add 2 tbsp of Sweet Freedom, heat gently until melted and combined, stirring.
These pancakes also freeze beautifully, freeze in a stack with greaseproof paper between each one and defrost each one quickly in a dry pan on the hob or for a few seconds in the microwave as needed.

St John’s Wort – the herb associated with helping mild depression

It is becoming more widely known that the herb St John’s Wort is as effective in treating moderate to severe depression as a drug that causes concern over side-effects. Credibility of this practice was strengthened recently when researchers in Berlin compared the herbal extract WS5570 with the drug Seroxat (which can cause suicide, aggression etc). The results of the findings were first reported on BMJ (British Medical Journal) online.

Hypericum Perforatum, or St John’s Wort, as we more commonly know it; is a yellow flowered plant which contains many chemical compounds, including hypericin and hyperforin.

The ancient Greeks were aware of its healing properties and used it to treat many ailments, including sciatica and poisonous reptile bites. In Europe it was, and still is, popular for the topical treatment of wounds and burns; ear infections, cold sores, and as a folk remedy for kidney and lung ailments; anxiety, as well as depression; and in other areas has long been used for mental disorders and nerve pain.

Active Constituents

St. John’s Wort has a complex chemical makeup that includes hypericin and other dianthrones, flavonoids, xanthones, and hyperforin. While it was previously thought that the anti-depressant actions of St. John’s Wort were due to hypercin, and inhibition of the enzyme monomine oxidase,current research has challenged this belief. Recent studies have focused on other constituents, such as hyperforin, xanthones, and flavonoids.

New research suggests that St. John’s wort extracts exert their antidepressant actions by inhibiting the re-uptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin,norepinephrine,and dopamine. This action is possibly due to the constituent hyperforin. By making more of these neurotransmitters available to the brain, St. John’s Wort is able to act as an antidepressant.

How Much Is Usually Taken?

The standard recommendation for mild to moderate depression is 300 mg of St Johns Wort extract 3 times daily. Results can be noted as early as 2 weeks, and length of use should be discussed with a health-care professional. St John’s Wort is available as capsules, teas and extracts.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

St. John’s wort could, theoretically, make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, but this is rare when used at recommended levels. However, fair-skinned individuals should be alert for any rashes or burns following exposure to the sun. Preliminary evidence suggests there may be a risk of St. John’s wort interacting with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, such as Prozac; and causing side effects known collectively as serotonin syndrome. For those taking an SSRI who wish to start St. Johns Wort; please see a doctor.

Caution

Always check with your doctor if you are taking any other medication, as St John’s Wort can’t be taken with any other anti-depressants or with the contraceptive pill.

Springtime Immune Health

Anyone who has allergies or hay fever at this time of year will tell you that immune system problems don’t just go away once the winter is over. Our immune systems are constantly working to defend our bodies against a barrage of foreign invaders. It’s when our bodies go into immune overdrive that we suffer all kinds of symptoms, and springtime is no exception. So start taking action now, in time for the pollen season.

Are you…

  • Eating on the run?
  • Feeling tire more than usual?
  • Achy?
  • Doing too much work, or physical activity?

… then see below

These symptoms mean that you are on your way to compromised immune health.

Take a high potency multi-nutrient supplement, to safeguard nutritional intakes in your diet, if you are eating on the run, or having too many convenience foods.

Eat more nuts and seeds in your diet, which will increase your intakes of important antioxidant minerals; zinc, selenium, manganese and essential fatty acids.

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, especially berries, which are very rich in vitamin C. If you find this impractical or too acidic for your stomach, choose a low-acid vitamin C supplement of at least 500mg daily.

Increase your fibre intakes by taking psyllium – a clogged up digestive system will leave you lacking in energy.

Take time to rest. This is the key to a strong immune system. Have a long soak in the bath, using a spa system (which are relatively cheap) and scented bath products and use CDs or even candles to calm and relax you.

Do you have…

  • Real lack of get up and go?
  • Long term cough or cold – even in the spring/summer?
  • Headaches/achy joints or muscles?
  • Loss of concentration, real tiredness?
  • Feeling of being really ‘under the weather’?

… then see below

These symptoms are synonymous with people whose immune systems have been working overtime a long while.

Medical herbalism is very good for long-term immune stress. Ginseng is a popular remedy, as it helps the body to adapt to long term physical and mental stress.

Eat more nuts and seeds in your diet, which will increase your intakes of important antioxidant minerals; zinc, selenium, manganese and essential fatty acids.

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, especially berries, which are very rich in vitamin C. If you find this impractical or too acidic for your stomach, choose a low-acid vitamin C supplement of at least 500mg daily.

Increase your fibre intakes by taking psyllium – a clogged up digestive system will leave you lacking in energy.

Cut out caffeine and alcohol in your diet and replace them with low/no caffeine teas and coffees, cordials and non-alcoholic wine alternatives (such as presses).

Take a high potency antioxidant formulation, plus a supplement of fish oil and evening primrose oil. This will help to regulate inflammatory reactions in the body made worse by stress.

Extra vitamin C (2000mg daily) can help support both the adrenal gland and general immune function.

Do you…

  • Get inflammation of the nose and eyes?
  • Get itchy mouth, nose, eyes and throat?
  • Get sneezing, clear water nasal discharge?
  • Get headaches in the spring/summer?

…then see below

Echinacea can be used all year round. Use a tincture, or tablets if you are prone to hay fever. This will help to keep your immune system (which is under stress) strong.

These are all classical symptoms of hay fever/allergic rhinitis.

Preliminary clinical research has suggested that it is beneficial to hay fever sufferers.

In an isolated double-blind trial, nettle leaf led to a slight reduction in symptoms of hay fever – including sneezing and itchy eyes.

Homeopathy, which is based on the philosophy of treating ‘like with like’ can suit some people. Look out for remedies which mention ‘pollen’ somewhere in the product name.

Lavender and roman chamomile essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties.

Note: please be diligent and check with your GP to discuss a treatment plan before taking any supplements or remedies.

Natural Lifestyle © Natural Lifestyle

Honeybuns – Selling Like Hot Cakes

Even businesses that enjoy the sweet taste of success need to be reassessed as they grow, as the founder of Honeybuns has discovered. Tessa Gates meets her.

Eight years ago Emma Goss-Custard got on her bike to start a business, but today that bike stands redundant in front of her Dorset farm-based bakery. From small beginnings in Oxford she now employs up to 30 people and needs wholesalers to distribute the 5.5t of Honeybuns handmade cakes produced each week.

It’s no small feat for a woman of 32 who studied English, not cookery, at university and who admits to never having drawn up a business plan. “It’s ironic that we are currently being judged for a business award,” says Emma. “When I started out, I was a student and I just wanted to make enough money to pay the rent. I made sandwiches and cakes and delivered them by bike around Oxford.”

But with a talent for baking honed from childhood, her business grew and after college she moved with her partner Matt to Guildford, started employing staff and baking a wide range of individual-sized cakes.

The business was all-consuming yet her dream was to find a rural site where she could run the bakery and have the space and time to keep dogs and horses and enjoy the countryside. When Matt, who worked in IT, had the chance to work from home, it was the spur to find such a place. Naish Farm, Holwell, Dorset, seemed ideal.

FARMHOUSE

“It was on the market with 50 acres. We couldn’t afford that, but bought the 500-year-old farmhouse and outbuildings with five acres,” she says, adding that after giving many hours of his time, free, to Honeybuns, Matt now works for it, too.

The couple moved to the farm two-and-a-half years ago and the old cowshed is now the bakery. Fitted to meet all health and hygiene regulations, it nevertheless retains its character. “All our changes can be reversed. It was important to us that, we keep the place looking like a farm.”

Planning consent has not been a problem even though the farm is Grade II Listed. “We chose to be as transparent as we could and the planning department was very supportive.’ she says. Now the old milking stalls are a packing room and the big barn houses freezing equipment

“On the whole, local people have been very welcoming and the former owners are glad it was not sold to weekenders. Their son has become a friend and has even helped us do some of the renovation work”

A planning application is now under way to remove a galvanized building and replace it with a staff room and showers – “built in a charming and sustainable way”.. Selling like hot cakes In the bakery

The business, too, has under-gone some changes, although it still bakes scrumptious individual cakes, cookies and flapjacks, handmade in small batches with the finest ingredients.

Three lines have won gold medals at the Great Taste Awards: Snowy Hills – lemon frangipane made with local free-range eggs and butter from Denhay Farms, on a polenta and stem ginger base; Coppice Cake – a combination of cranberries, ground hazelnuts and chocolate; and the deliciously-dark Heathcliffe Brownie. All extremely moreish.

“If you are worried about calories have a small piece at a time, that’s what I do,” advises Emma. “I like to think of them as little slices of temptation in the fridge.”

When Emma first started out, she used the recipes her mother and grandmother had taught her. “My grandmother was Italian and her cakes used polenta and almonds rather than flour. Unknowingly, I was making cakes that people with coeliac disease – who can’t tolerate gluten – could enjoy. I was just interested in making tasty things.

“Now we have become very niche and the whole range is gluten- and wheat-free, although this is not how it is marketed. We don’t put gluten-free on the front of the cake. It’s an all-inclusive product and the first reaction we want is, ‘this is a great cake’,” says Emma. “Coeliacs will look on the back label for the gluten-free logo. Sales go down if it is separated to a basket of gluten-free products.”

The cakes are blast frozen and sold through wholesalers to a wide range of outlets including top London stores, health food shops, delicatessens, the House of Commons, Virgin and First Great Western trains. Honeybuns also has a strong regional following.

“Retailers defrost part of the order as they need it, and the cakes are sold from chill cabinets,” says Emma. “Our cakes don’t contain preservatives; you can’t have really long-lasting cakes without chemicals, although people don’t seem to realise that.”

Since moving to the farm, Emma has had to make some hard decisions. “I had run the company very idealistically. I did everything myself and the company had outgrown that. I had to draft in help and act grown up and restructure the business.

“We had 50 lines and people were always asking for new stuff and we would oblige. It was out of control. Now we have 16 lines and the confidence to stick to a range. If we launch a new product we pull another one out.”

Emma has reassessed her role, too. She has a great bakery team, and is happy to delegate now and concentrates on product development. “You need to know when to step back when you have a good team around you, “ she says. “Matt and I have just had our first three-week holiday away and the business didn’t skip a beat.”

Tessa Gates © Farmers Weekly 2005