Passionflower, also known as passiflora incarnata, maypop, apricot vine, water lemon or wild passion vine is a fast-growing perennial, which gardeners love growing.
Its large flowers have 5 long stamens and 5 white petals, magenta to blue. According to tradition, it is called passion vine because its floral parts represent the elements of the Crucifixion (3 styles for the 3 nails, 5 stamens for the 5 wounds, the ovary for the hammer, and the corona which resembles Jesus’ crown of thorns).
Passionflower was brought to America from Peru by spanish explorers in 1569.
It was commonly known as ‘ocoee’ among the Cherokees in the Tennessee area (the namesake river and valley were actually named after it). In 1919, it was declared the official state flower of the state of Tennessee. Nowadays, Passionflower grows in Southeastern American riverbanks, roadsides, and railroads, from Florida to Texas, as well as throughout Europe, thriving in sunny areas and is tolerant to drought.
This amazing flower is valuable for its pharmacological properties and is frequently prescribed to treat several disorders, such as upset stomach, irregular heart rate, high blood pressure, burns, and hemorrhoids even epilepsy, and hysteria. It is also applied on cuts, earaches and inflammation.
What’s in passion flower herb?
Passionflower herb contains flavonoids, sterols, cholorogenic acid, volatile oil, and traces of alkaloids (including harmine, harman). The methanol extracts of leaves, stems, flowers, and whole plant exhibit anti-anxiety effects. The roots are practically devoid of anti-anxiety effects. This means the leaves seem to contain the most concentration of the active ingredients.
Passion Flower and anxiety, help with relaxation
A double-blind randomized trial compared the efficacy of passion flower extract with oxazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. The study was performed on 36 out-patients diagnosed with anxiety allocated in a random fashion: 18 to the passion flower extract 45 drops/day plus placebo tablet group, and 18 to oxazepam 30 mg/day plus placebo drops for a 4-week trial. Passion flower extract and oxazepam were effective in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Significantly more problems relating to impairment of job performance were encountered with subjects on oxazepam. The results suggest that passion flower extract is an effective herb for the management of generalized anxiety disorder, and the low incidence of impairment of job performance with passion flower extract compared to oxazepam is an advantage.
Oral preoperative administration of Passiflora incarnata suppresses the increase in anxiety before spinal anesthesia without changing psychomotor function test results, sedation level, or hemodynamics. J Anesthesia. 2011.
Passion flower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam.
J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001.
A double-blind randomized trial compared the efficacy of Passion flower extract with oxazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. The study was performed on 36 out-patients diagnosed with GAD using DSM IV criteria. Patients were allocated in a random fashion: 18 to the Passion flower extract 45 drops/day plus placebo tablet group, and 18 to oxazepam 30 mg/day plus placebo drops for a 4-week trial. Passion flower extract and oxazepam were effective in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. No significant difference was observed between the two protocols at the end of trial. Oxazepam showed a rapid onset of action. On the other hand, significantly more problems relating to impairment of job performance were encountered with subjects on oxazepam. Passion flower extract is an effective drug for the management of generalized anxiety disorder, and the low incidence of impairment of job performance with Passion flower extract compared to oxazepam is an advantage.
Sedative and for sleep, use for insomnia
Indian J Pharmacol. 2013. Efficacy and safety of a polyherbal sedative-hypnotic formulation NSF-3 in primary insomnia in comparison to zolpidem: a randomized controlled trial. To assess the efficacy and safety of NSF-3, a polyherbal sedative-hypnotic (containing standardized extracts of Valeriana officinalis, Passiflora incarnate and Humulus lupulus), in comparison to zolpidem in primary insomnia. NSF-3 is a safe and effective short-term alternative to zolpidem for primary insomnia. It remains to be explored whether the benefits are sustained and whether there is dependence liability with this formulation upon long term use.
Phytother Res. 2011. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Forty-one participants (18-35 years) were exposed to each treatment for a week, whereby they consumed a cup of the tea and filled out a sleep diary for 7 days, and completed Spielberger’s state-trait anxiety inventory on the seventh morning. Ten participants also underwent overnight PSG on the last night of each treatment period. Of six sleep-diary measures analysed, sleep quality showed a significantly better rating for passionflower compared with placebo. Our initial findings suggest that the consumption of a low dose of passion flower, in the form of tea, yields short-term subjective sleep benefits for healthy adults with mild fluctuations in sleep quality.
Pharmacological studies on the sedative and hypnotic effect of Kava kava and passiflora extracts combination.
Kava kava extract, passion flower extract and a combination of both extracts, administered to mice, caused a significant decrease of the amphetamine-induced hypermotility and significant prolongation of sleeping phase induced by subcutaneous injection of barbiturates. Due to a synergism of both extracts, simultaneously administered the pharmacologically registered effect in both in vivo experiments was found to be superior over the sum of the single separately administered extracts.
The consumption of passionflower tea yields short-term subjective sleep benefits for healthy adults with mild fluctuations in sleep quality. Phytother Res. 2011.A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality.
However, everyone should bear in mind that Passionflower may interact with medications, as well as cause unwanted side effects when interacting with other herbs. As a result, it would be wise to avoid taking Passionflower during pregnancy or breastfeeding and follow the instructions of a health care provider.