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Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is also known as passion vine. It is native to the Americas and belongs to a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants that are found throughout the world. Passionflower is a perennial vine that can grow to a length of nearly 10 meters or approximately 32 feet. Each flower has five white petals and five sepals that vary in color from magenta to blue. Passionflower’s ripe fruit are oval-shaped berries that can be yellow or purple. Some kinds of passionfruit are edible. The above ground parts (aerial parts) are typically used to make medicinal extracts or solutions for various health conditions. Passionflower is used to treat sleep disorders and alleviate anxiety, nervousness, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), asthma, migraines, symptoms of menopause, fibromyalgia, and hypertension. Historically, many cultures used passionflower as an aphrodisiac and it is still used for that purpose around the world. 
In 1569, Spanish explorers discovered passionflower in Peru. Passionflower has naturally occurring phytochemicals that have antispasmodic actions, which help to relieve muscle spasms and tension. This vine also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, diuretic, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), disinfectant, and expectorant properties. Passionflower works well alone or with other herbs. Research has found that passionflower actually increases St. John’s Wort herb’s effectiveness. 
Research scientists believe passionflower’s calming effects are from the herb’s ability to increase levels of the chemical gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA lowers the activity of some brain cells, thereby making you more relaxed. Passionflower contains three main groups of active phytochemicals: alkaloids, glycosides, and flavonoids. 
Supporting research:
  • Mowrey, Daniel. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. Keats Publishing, Inc New Canaan CT. 1986.
  • Bruneton, J. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Intercept, Ltd., Hampshire, England. 1995.
  • Lueng. A., Foster, S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients. Wiley & Sons, NY, NY. 1996.
  • Lutomski, J., et al. "Pharmacochemical investigation of the raw materials from Passiflora genus. 2. The pharmacochemical estimation of juices from the fruits of Passiflora edulis and Passiflora edulis forma flavicarpa." Planta Med. 1975;27: 112-121.
  • Dhawan, K., et al. "Aphrodisiac activity of methanol extract of leaves of Passiflora incarnata Linn. in mice." Phytother. Res. 2003; 17(4): 401-3.
  • Herb Clip: Passionflower., "An Herbalist's View of Passionflower" American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas April 10, 1996.


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