Passionflower, Passiflora Incarnata
They are one of five hundred in the passion flower family, specifically Passiflora incarnata.
Passiflora means “passion flower” and incarnata means “in the flesh.”
When the flowering vine was first discovered by Spanish explorers in Florida in 1529 the shape of the blossom captured their imagination and they described it as a symbol for the “Passion of Christ.”
The passion flower is a woody vine that grows up to 30 feet long and climbs with tendrils. It has striking, large white flowers with pink or purple centers. Leaves are three lobed and the fruit egg-shaped going from green to yellow or orange when ripe.
Passion flowers do have complex blossoms. P. incarnata is two to three inches across with 10 white tepals in a shallow bowl with a fringe of purple and white filaments, called a corona. The center is a white stigma with five stamens. The vine is long a trailing with three-lobed leaves. It can grow six feet a season and several feet wide. The vines blossom for a long time and set fruit over the same period so one vine can have old and young fruit at the same time. Shaped like a egg, the fruit starts out green and hollow and eventually fills with a kind of jelly and seeds while also turning yellow on the outside. Finding the fruit is rather sporadic since woodland creatures like them as well and dine at night. The pulp-covered seeds in a green or yellow maypop are quit edible.
Health benefits of Passionflower
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.
The chemicals in passionflower have calming, sleep inducing, and muscle spasm relieving effects.
The health benefits of Passionflower are listed below
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.
Trouble sleeping (insomnia). Some preliminary research suggests that drinking a passionflower tea an hour before bedtime might help improve feelings of sleep quality. However, this did not seem to improve the time it takes to fall asleep, the number of awakenings at night, or refreshed feelings upon awakening in the morning.
Also Helps: Nervous stomach, Burns, Hemorrhoids, Asthma, Heart problems, High blood pressure, Seizures, Fibromyalgia.
Passionflower can cause some side effects such as dizziness, confusion, irregular muscle action and coordination, altered consciousness, and inflamed blood vessels. There has also been a report of nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, a rapid heart rate, and abnormal heart rhythm in one person who took it.
Passionflower is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in amounts normally found in food. It is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken short-term (less than two months) as medicine or tea. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large amounts.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take passionflower if you are pregnant. It is UNSAFE. There are some chemicals in passionflower that might cause the uterus to contract.
Not enough is known about the safety of taking passionflower during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and don’t use it.
Surgery: Passionflower can affect the central nervous system. It might increase the effects of anesthesia and other medications on the brain during and after surgery. Stop taking passionflower at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Passionflower may have blood pressure-lowering effects. Taking passionflower along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Passionflower might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking passionflower along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Oddly, while native to North America, Maypops are far more popular in Europe. Americans used make jelly out of them, the Indians cooked the leaves in fat. Europeans currently make pharmaceuticals. The fresh and dried whole plant has been used to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. It is the most common ingredient in herbal sedatives in Europe. In Europe a teaspoon of dried, ground plant is used in a tea. Even a sedative gum has been made with Maypop.