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Passion Flower

Passion Flower
Passion Flower

About Passion Flower

  • Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a tropical herb which has been used since the 19th century for nervous conditions. Modern research supports traditional usage and clinical trials have demonstrated the relaxing and anti-anxiety effects of Passiflora. Passiflora is often recommended to treat anxiety and reduce tension and is also very useful in reducing the withdrawal symptoms of recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Medical analysis has shown that Passiflora contains flavonoids which are responsible for its calming and anti-anxiety effects.
From the National Library of Medicine

Passionflower is a plant. The above ground parts are used to make medicine.

Passionflower is used for sleep problems (insomnia), gastrointestinal (GI) upset related to anxiety or nervousness, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal.

Passionflower is also used for seizures, hysteria, asthma, symptoms of menopause, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness and excitability, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, and pain relief.

Some people apply passionflower to the skin for hemorrhoids, burns, and pain and swelling (inflammation).

In foods and beverages, passionflower extract is used as a flavoring.

In 1569, Spanish explorers discovered passionflower in Peru. They believed the flowers symbolized Christ’s passion and indicated his approval for their exploration. Passionflower is found in combination herbal products used as a sedative for promoting calmness and relaxation. Other herbs contained in these products include German chamomile, hops, kava, skullcap, and valerian.

Passionflower was formerly approved as an over-the-counter sedative and sleep aid in the U.S., but it was taken off the market in 1978 because safety and effectiveness had not been proven. However, passionflower may still be available alone or in combination with other herbal products.

How effective is it? (Per the NLM)

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for PASSIONFLOWER are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Anxiety. There is some evidence that passionflower can reduce symptoms of anxiety, sometimes as effectively as some prescription medications.
  • Relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal, when used in combination with a medication called clonidine. This combination seems to be effective in reducing symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, sleep problems (insomnia), and agitation. However, passionflower plus clonidine is no better than clonidine alone for physical symptoms such as tremor and nausea.
  • Relieving symptoms of a psychiatric disorder known as “adjustment disorder with anxious mood” when used in a multi-ingredient product (Euphytose, EUP). Other herbs in the product are crataegus, ballota, and valerian, which have mild sedative effects, and cola and paullinia, which have stimulant effects. It’s not clear, though, which ingredient or ingredients in the mix are responsible for decreasing anxiety.

News About Passion Flower

Every Herb Has a Story: Passionflower Benefits

By Randy Buresh (Reader Contribution)

Passionflower is an herb whose uses have little to do with its name. Rather than inducing feelings of passion, this herb is much more likely to make you calm, relaxed, and even sleepy. Passionflower gets its name from the beautiful flowers’ radial filiments, which Christian missionaries likened to the crown of thorns used in Christ’s crucifixion.

Known for its fragrance and unique colorful flowers, passionflower was traditionally used as a calming herb. Today, the properties in passionflower still make it useful as a soothing sleep-aid and in supporting relaxation in times of stress. Scientists believe that passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA reduces the activity of some brain cells, inducing a greater state of relaxation. Passionflower is often combined with other herbs used for relaxation such asvalerian, lemon balm, skullcap, or kava. Some people apply a poultice of the root of passion flower to the skin for use as a topical remedy for healing of the skin.

Since passionflower is a nervine, meaning that it has an effect on the nervous system, it can intensify the effects of prescription sedatives. The two should not be taken simultaneously.

Nervines like passionflower are considered complementary herbs to use along with adaptogens, like ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a unique herb in that it can have a very calming effect, but it can also energize a person when needed—the best of both worlds, all in one little herb.

Herbs like passionflower, ashwagandha, skullcap and kava are able to help with stress because they improve the body’s physiological response to stress, which decreases the demand placed on the adrenal glands and helps to lower cortisol levels. Lower cortisol levels help to improve sleep patterns and health in general. The roles that stress and the systems of the body play in your health are interrelated.

It’s an herb with a story—and a long history. An herb to remember when the stress of the season keeps you from enjoying it, or from sleeping as well as you’d like. We can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can help our bodies better adapt to stress by using the many herbs available to do just that. So get passionate about your health; add a little passionflower!

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