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The Beginning of Something Beautiful

Rhoda-Mary Health

Welcome to the spanking new Hopsack web site. We hope you enjoy the site and find the information it contains useful and thought provoking. Please feel free to respond to our weekly blog. We’ll answer your comments and queries to the best of our ability. In our first ever blog entry, we blow a big kiss to Saint Valentine, patron saint of lovers! We’re not sure how a third-century celibate who sadly lost his head became the poster boy for love and romance. It may have been due to Pope Gelasius I, who recast the Ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia (15 February) as a Christian feast day to draw people’s attention away from (shhhh!) sex and to honour two saints called Valentine, who were martyred on 14 February. (Does that mean you can send more than one card?) Or it could have been thanks to English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, who penned a poem about birds finding love on Valentine’s Day to honour the engagement of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. Wherever the truth may lie, one thing is clear: it would be tragic to be an ascetic this Thursday. So go pagan and indulgeâΒ€¦ Food and love are intimately intertwined in Valentine’s Day tradition and offer tantalising possibilities for passion. Shamans, herbalists and nutritionists have long known that certain foods, supplements, herbs and essential oils act as love drugs, while others make you yearn to do the ironing. The dance between serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters in the brain, is crucial. When Greek love goddess Aphrodite bottled her power in the form of aphrodisiacs, she was thinking optimum nutrition, love energy and dopamine, the naughty neurotransmitter that languishes in scented baths and sucks oysters from their shells while briskly cheerful serotonin is seeing to the school run. Being a generous soul, Aphrodite liked to spread the love, so she showered Nature with hints to lure sweethearts to foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, iron and vitamin C, all of which enhance dopamine and boost libido. Relying on the Law of Signatures, which holds that foods resembling body parts also nourish them, she offered the Aztecs the avocado (or testicle) tree, its fatty, mineral-rich fruits hanging in pairs, and her Ancient Greeks the succulent fig, which they celebrated by greeting each new crop with ritual copulation. Believing ripe figs resemble the shape of female genitalia, Italian men to this day cry âΒ€ΒœChe figa!” when a gorgeous woman passes by. Figs are particularly rich in iron, magnesium and zinc. Oysters (same Law of Signatures as figs) are teeming with zinc and omega-3s, while dewy peaches ripe for the plucking contain some Vitamin C. Vanilla, from a type of orchid, is a time-honoured aphrodisiac for males and females. Asparagus, celery, cinnamon, cardamom, sage, basil, anise, fennel, lychees, grapes, mangoes, almonds and passion fruit also have their seat at the table of love. Even goddesses can occasionally get it wrong, though. Truffles, an expensive delicacy and a treasured aphrodisiac, smell like male pheromones. Female pigs are employed to harvest them because they can detect a scent that smells like hog pheromone emanating from the musty underground morsels. Unfortunately, human male pheromones and male swine pheromones are so alike that in a double-blind placebo-controlled study, women were aroused by the latter, taking the Law of Signatures a trotter too far. If digging around in the dirt is not your style, your local health food shop (I wonder which oneâΒ€¦?) may contain some Valentine’s Day treasures for you. Men have naturally higher levels of dopamine than women do, so it bodes well for the fair sex to boost dopamine levels on a regular basis while keeping serotonin within a nice, moderate range. How? By taking purified fish oil such as Eskimo-3 daily, eating loads of brightly coloured fruits and veggies, getting adequate protein and eating a few squares (not too manyâΒ€¦) of luscious dark chocolate a day. It also means going easy on serotonin spikers like caffeine, starchy and sugary foods, excess omega-6 fatty acids and trans-fats, and avoiding soya, the lover’s false friend, which binds up the free testosterone both guys and dolls need to get in the mood for love *. Maca, a Peruvian root vegetable known as âΒ€Β˜Nature’s Viagra’, boosts libido and fertility in men and women by regulating hormones naturally. But you don’t have to go to the Andes to find it. It is available, combined with âΒ€Βœman root” ginseng, in a supplement called Herbal V. The herb damiana, available in tincture or tea form, produces a warm, fuzzy feeling in women **. The aphrodisiacs Catuaba and Muira Puama (those saucy South Americans again) are also available in supplement form ***. Etheric oils, such as sandalwood and ylang-ylang, patchouli, jasmine, geranium, frankincense and rose make wonderfully sensual massage blends when combined with a carrier oil ****. So, with the delights of the world at your feet, you don’t have to travel too far to pay homage to the saints and goddesses this Thursday. A little trip to Rathmines might even do itâΒ€¦ For a taste of things to come, you could try sharing the following recipe with your loved one on St Valentine’s Day: Buy six of the plumpest, darkest fresh figs you can find. Cut a deep cross with a sharp knife from the top of each fig almost to the bottom of the fruit, and open it like a flower. Place three figs in two beautiful bowls. Drizzle with a little pouring cream (or cashews blended with some orange juice and agave nectar for a vegan version) and let the drippy juices blend with the cream. Decorate with a light sprinkling of crushed cardamom seeds and rose petals. SavourâΒ€¦ * See Marenna Lindberg, The Orgasmic Diet (London, 2007) for more information regarding dopamine, free testosterone and libido-enhancing nutrition. ** Do not take damiana when pregnant or if you intend to drive or operate machinery. *** All supplements mentioned in this blog entry are available from The Hopsack or can be ordered through the shop. It is imperative that you follow the instructions on the bottle and check with your doctor before taking supplements if you have a health condition or are taking medication of any kind. **** Do not use essential oils in pregnancy unless you are under the care of a qualified aromatherapist. The advice and information contained in the Hopsack website, forum and newsletters is intended as a guide only should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, especially if you know you have a specific health complaint. Our advice is that you find a GP or other qualified practitioner who is sympathetic to the usefulness of natural medicine. Last edited by Rhoda-Mary on Sat Feb 23, 2008 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total. Rhoda-Mary Posts: 33 Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:29 pm Top Re: Blog 1 14 February 2008....The Beginning of Something Beauti Postby aideen on Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:31 am Hello Rhoda and all at the Hopsack! Just checked out the website and your blog. Fantastic! I'm very impressed! Loved your article, interesting, funny and very well written! You'll see me over the next few days going through Rathmines with bags of figs and supplements from your good selves:-) I'm looking forward to reading more from you! Best Wishes, Aideen (ex Hopsacker) aideen Posts: 1 Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:24 am Top Re: Blog 1 14 February 2008....The Beginning of Something Beauti Postby Karl on Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:25 pm Soya! Kate? Karl Posts: 1 Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:22 pm Top Re: Blog 1 14 February 2008....The Beginning of Something Beauti Postby Kristen on Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:43 pm Kate, Finn, Am absolutely thrilled with the new forum. Exellently written - funny and informative. I'm saving it in my favourites :) Well done!! Kristen Kristen Posts: 1 Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:41 pm Top Re: Blog 1 14 February 2008....The Beginning of Something Beauti Postby Clodagh on Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:54 pm Great idea with the Blog!! Will definitely be keeping my eye on it in the future. AlthoughâΒ€¦above has probably ruined eating figs for me for lifeâΒ€¦ the pig/male thing on the other hand, is very insightful! Will be in soon to stock up!! X Clodagh Clodagh Posts: 1 Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2008 1:48 pm Top Re: The Beginning of Something Beautiful Postby Rhoda-Mary on Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:04 pm Hi Aideen, I'm sorry this reply is so belated. It took me a while to get familiar with the workings of the web site. Thank you so much for your kind words and for your email. It was great to hear from you ... our very first reply! I hope you're well. If you fancy writing to us again, any responses to blogs / controversies / viewpoints would be greatly appreciated! Or if you ever want to join Finn and 'an enquiring mind' on the recipe board, we can make your recipe and you can come in and eat it ... yum! Hope to see you soon :-) Love, Rhoda-Mary x

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