Passionflower - isn't she just the most beautiful?
While it's true that we are blessed with many useful and medicinal plants here in the Great North, I can't help but feel a tinge of jealousy for my southern neighbours whose gardens are graced with this stunning beauty. Gorgeous as I imagine she is in all of her real-life glory, lucky for us northern folk, we can still utilize the dried portions of passionflower - because this wondrous plant does so much more than just look beautiful!
Latin Name: Passiflora incarnata
Common Names: Passion vine, maypop, apricot vine, wild passionflower, maracuja, water lemon
Parts Used: Dried leaves; fruit is eaten as a food
Energy & Flavours: Cooling and relaxing. Leaves are bitter, cool; fruit is sour, sweet and cool
Biochemical Constituents: The leaves contain various alkaloids (harmane, harmine, harmol, and passiflorine), flavonoids, sterols, gums, and sugars
Medicinal Actions: Nervine, relaxant, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), analgesic (pain reliever), hypnotic (sleep aid), antispasmodic, and hypotensive (lowers blood pressure).
Medicinal Preparations: Infusions, teas, liquid extracts, tinctures
Habitat & Growing Conditions: Passion flower is a climbing vine native to the southeastern United States and Central and South America.
The History of Passionflower: Native peoples of the Americas have used passionflower as a sedative, which is how 16th century Spanish explorers learned about it and brought it back to Europe where it then became wildly cultivated.
Medicinal Uses: Passionflower is a relaxing nervine, often combined with other nervines to reduce stress and tension and to aid sleep. Passionflower leaves are used for insomnia - specifically intransigent insomnia - aiding the transition into a restful sleep without any 'narcotic' hangover. The mandala-like flower demonstrates the powerful signature of its use in circular thinking, especially during insomnia; passionflower is especially suited for folks who have a hard time letting things go, mulling them over incessantly in a repetitive manner (Source).
Passionflower may be used when an anti-spasmodic is required, as in Parkinson's disease, seizures, and hysteria. It may be used in asthma where there is much spasmodic activity, especially when there is associated tension. Passionflower can be very effective for nerve pain such as neuralgia and shingles, or when someone is hypersensitive to pain.
Other benefits of passionflower include treating headaches, agitation, transitioning from addictions, tics, hiccoughs, overstimulation, nervine tonic in preventing outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus, stress-induced hypertension, and menstrual cramps. (Source)
Specifically for Children: insomnia; trouble sleeping through the night; teething; colic; adjunct treatment in asthma; especially with panic around asthma attacks; whooping cough. (Source)
Food Uses: The dried herb is infused with alcohol to make tinctures, or prepared as an infusion for the purpose of drinking tea. The ripe fruits can be eaten fresh when they are starting to turn yellow and beginning to wrinkle. Some people eat the seeds inside while others spit them out.
Cosmetic Uses: 'Maracuja Oil' is created by pressing the fruit seeds of the passionflower. The resulting carrier oil is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A, phosphorous and calcium. This oil helps skin retain moisture as it softens and nourishes dry skin and is excellent for mature, dry and anti-aging skin care.
Passionflower extract is used in the cosmetic industry in moisturizers, creams, lotions, cleansers, toners, serums, oils, shampoos and conditioners for its soothing, calming, and anti-aging benefits.
Products we make featuring Passionflower: Passionflower is the final ingredient in our delicious Sleepy Time Tea that will get you and the littles ready for bed at the end of even the most hectic of days.
Safety Class: 1 (Herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately and that have a history of safe traditional use)
Interaction Class: A (Herbs for which no clinically relevant interactions are expected)
Pregnancy and Lactation: One animal study showed no adverse effects of passionflower on fetal development (Hirakawa et al. 1981). No other information on the safety of passionflower in pregnancy or lactation was identified. While this review did not identify any concerns for use while nursing, safety has not been conclusively established.
Sources: American Herbal Product's Association Botanical Safety Handbook Second Edition, The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne, The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra, National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health