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Calming Down with the Passion Flower

Colin Stuckert

Passion flower, known botanically as Passiflora incarnata L. and a part of the Passifloraceae family, is equally flamboyant in appearance and unique for the benefits. It’s almost alien-like in appearance, but quite striking, with five stamens and three stigmas that protrude from the center, resembling antennae.

Passion flower is most widely utilized in the US and Europe for its supreme calming effects.

Traditional use can be dated back to prehistoric times and today there’s a long-established application to help reduce anxiety, hysteria, and other nervous mental ailments. Some studies have even found that while it didn’t treat mental disorders as quickly as certain drugs, it did so with a reduction in side effects that drugs usually induce on the consumers.

Most parts of the herbaceous plant are used in the treatment of different conditions, including its leaves, stems, and flowers. The intake of passion flower raises the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical in the brain that induces relaxation, thus making the herb an effective solution for the alleviation of several conditions, such as the following:

Anxiety

Passion flower is believed to activate brain receptors that induce relaxation, thereby lowering anxiety in patients. As already mentioned, certain studies have found that the plant was just as effective as oxazepam in treating symptoms of the disorder. While it took a few days longer (seven versus oxazepam’s four), job performance was not hindered as with the drug.

Insomnia

Especially anxiety-induced insomnia and for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the relaxing effect that passion flower induces can help patients get better sleep quality. It is important to note, however, that long-term effects of the herb are still unknown.

High Blood Pressure

Passion flower extracts are presumed to be able to lower blood pressure, but those who take it should be wary of possible interactions with other blood pressure-lowering medications as this might cause the blood pressure to drop too low. We advocate the use of all-natural treatment remedies, but always consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment program.

Menopause

By activating the brain receptors responsible for relaxation, passion flower extracts can help alleviate the experience for menopausal women, particularly with regards to symptoms such as hot flashes, irritability, anxiety, and depression.

ADHD

One study found that the use of passion flower matches the effects of usual ADHD medication and with considerably less side effects. The study admits its limitations, however, and further studies of larger capacities should still be carried out.

Diabetes

Taking passion flower supplements has been proven to improve blood glucose control in diabetic patients.

Passion flower is available in many consumable forms including tinctures, liquid extracts, teas and infusions – which can easily be made by steeping a teaspoon of dried herbs in hot water for 5-10 minutes.

You may also try different combinations of the passion flower and other herbs such as valerian root and St. John’s wort or chamomile flowers for added benefits. For additional flavor, we recommend adding some honey.

Passion flower is recognized as generally safe for consumption, but it is still important to consult a specialist before taking a dose of passion flower, especially for children. Interactions with other treatments, such as sedatives and blood thinners should also be considered. For women who are pregnant or nursing, the intake of passion flower is not advisable.