Passion Flower and Stress
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: No Name Given
Posted on: October 21, 1998

I wanted to take this time to ask for information on the herb or flower name passionflower. I am to give a briefing on the subject among a group of friends. We are studying the use of natural products to deal with the stresses of today.

There are many species of passionflower. The one most often used for anti stress purposes is Passiflora incarnata, a species we do not carry at the moment, but we are working to introduce plants in our catalogue for 2000. Presently, we carry an ornamental variety, P. x alatocaerulea, and the passion fruit, P. edulis.

P. incarnata is also known as ‘maypops’ and is a vine found growing wild in the southern U.S. from Virginia and Florida to Missiouri and Texas. It is now cultivated as a commercial crop in more temperate and more tropical areas.

P. incarnata is antispasmodic, diaphoretic and sedative. Its sedative effect is due to alkaloids that are nonaddictive and do not cause drowsiness. The whole dried herb prepared as a tea is "most commonly used for nervous conditions such as insomnia, restlessness, hysteria, and nervous headache," according to John Lust in his book, "The Herb Book". Deni Bown, in her "Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses" says it is also useful for asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual tension, nervous tachycardia, hypertension and shingles.

Native American Indians used it as a tonic. Traditionally, passion flower has been used for epilepsy, a use adopted by European physicians visiting America in the 18th century, and it became popular for insomnia in the 19th century.

Steven Foster and James Duke say in their book, "Field Guide to Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants" that research shows that extracts are "mildly sedative, slightly reduce blood pressure, increase respiratory rate, and decrease motor activity." They go on to say that large amounts are potentially harmful. (All books mentioned are available from Richters.)

The fruits are edible and are delicious pulped for jam and desserts.

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