Source: Passionflower | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical-reference-guide/complementary-and-alternative-medicine-guide/herb/passionflower#ixzz3DhRYjKTV
University of Maryland Medical Center
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) was used traditionally in the Americas and later in Europe. Scientists believe passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA lowers the activity of some brain cells.
The effects of passionflower tend to be milder than valerian (Valeriana officinalis) or kava (Piper methysticum). Passionflower is often combined with valerian, lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), or other herbs. Few scientific studies have tested passionflower as a treatment option, however, and since passionflower is often combined with other herbs, it is difficult to tell what effects passionflower has on its own.
Native to southeastern parts of the Americas, passionflower is now grown throughout Europe. It is a perennial climbing vine with herbaceous shoots and a sturdy woody stem that grows to a length of nearly 10 meters (about 32 feet). Each flower has 5 white petals and 5 sepals that vary in color from magenta to blue. According to folklore, passionflower got its name because its corona resembles the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The passionflower's ripe fruit is an egg-shaped berry that may be yellow or purple. Some kinds of passionfruit are edible.
The above ground parts (flowers, leaves, and stems) of the passionflower are used for medicinal purposes.
Available forms include the following:
- Liquid extracts
How to Take It
No studies have examined the effects of passionflower in children, so do not give passionflower to a child without a doctor's supervision. Adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child's weight.
The following are examples of forms and doses used for adults. Speak to your doctor for specific recommendations for your condition:
- Tea: Steep 0.5 - 2 g (about 1 tsp.) of dried herb in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes; strain and cool. For anxiety, drink 3 - 4 cups per day. For insomnia, drink one cup an hour before going to bed.
- Fluid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol): 10 - 20 drops, 3 times a day
- Tincture (1:5 in 45% alcohol): 10 - 45 drops, 3 times a day
The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
Do not take passionflower if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
For others, passionflower is generally considered to be safe and nontoxic in recommended doses.
Passionflower may interact with the following medications:
Sedatives (drugs that cause sleepiness) -- Because of its calming effect, passionflower may make the effects of sedative medications stronger. These medications include:
- Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium)
- Drugs for insomnia, such as zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), eszopiclone (Lunesta), ramelteon (Rozerem)
- Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), amoxapine, doxepin (Sinequan), and nortriptyline (Pamelor)
Antiplatelets and anticoagulants (blood thinners) -- Passionflower may increase the amount of time blood needs to clot, so it could make the effects of blood thinning medications stronger and increase your risk of bleeding. Blood thinning drugs include:
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors or MAOIs) -- MAO inhibitors are an older class of antidepressants that are not often prescribed now. Theoretically, passionflower might increase the effects of MAO inhibitors, as well as their side effects, which can be dangerous. These drugs include:
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Elsas SM, Rossi DJ, Raber J, White G, Seeley CA, Gregory WL, Mohr C, Pfankuch T, Soumyanath A. Passionflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(12):940-9.
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Watson RR, Zibadi S, Rafatpanah H, Jabbari F, Ghasemi R, Ghafari J, et al. Oral administration of the purple passion fruit peel extract reduces wheeze and cough and improves shortness of breath in adults with asthma. Nutr Res. 2008 Mar;28(3):166-71.
Passiflora incarnata; Maypop
- Last Reviewed on 06/23/2011
- Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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