Passionflower: properties, benefits and uses

Passionflower: properties, benefits and uses

Passionflower is a plant used in herbal medicine for its sedative properties, useful in case of mild insomnia, anxiety and agitation

Index

  • What's this
  • Properties and benefits
  • Uses
  • Contraindications and side effects

What's this

Passionflower is a climbing plant belonging to the Passifloraceae family, cultivated for ornamental purposes due to its bearing and above all for the beauty of its flowers. There are numerous varieties of passionflower, all united by a very particular flowering. The organs of passionflower flowers in fact constitute a complex symmetrical shape, formed by a set of appendages similar to purple petals distributed in a radial pattern to form a sort of crown and styles that develop in the center and end with stigmas in the shape of a nail. To the crown of appendages and to the shape of the styles we owe the name of "passion flower" attributed to the passion flower, symbol of the crucifixion of Jesus.

In addition to embellishing terraces and gardens, some varieties of passion flower are grown for edible fruits, while the incarnate variety is cultivated for its therapeutic properties. The aerial parts of Passiflora incarnata, in fact, are used in phytotherapy and herbal medicine to treat anxiety and agitation. The collection of the drug occurs just before and during the summer flowering; subsequently the stems and leaves are dried to be sold for the preparation of herbal teas or used to make extracts.

Properties and benefits

Passionflower is mainly used to treat mild insomnia, anxiety, agitation, nervousness and irritability. In addition to its sedative and calming action, passionflower also has spasmolytic properties, useful in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems. Herbal teas and other extracts obtained from passion flower are therefore used to promote sleep when insomnia is caused by excessive physical and mental fatigue and to alleviate numerous manifestations related to anxiety and stress. In particular, passionflower is suitable for people who struggle to fall asleep due to constant brooding or mood problems, in which it is able to cause sedation capable of ensuring a restful sleep. Passionflower is also useful in cases where sleep disturbances are a consequence of the agitation that occurs during menopause.

In addition, passionflower helps relieve numerous other disorders related to anxiety and agitation such as palpitations, tachycardia, muscle spasms of nervous origin in the stomach and intestines, asthma and nervous cough.

In the stems and leaves of passion flowers there are various compounds including flavonoids, of which passion flower is particularly rich. Passionflower also contains indole alkaloids, maltol, cyanogenic heterorides, phenols, phytosterols, coumarins and essential oil. All these substances, which make up the phytocomplex of the plant, contribute to conferring the properties and benefits of passionflower.

Uses

Passionflower can be purchased in herbal medicine in the form of herbal tea, dry extract, mother tincture or in tablets obtained from the pulverization of the dried drug. Passionflower is often included in the formulation of herbal teas or food supplements along with other sedative and calming drugs such as valerian root, hops, lemon balm and hawthorn. The recommended dosage is 5-8 grams of the drug, regardless of the form in which it is administered. Passionflower herbal tea is prepared, for example, with about two grams of dried drug, to be left to infuse in boiling water for a quarter of an hour and drinking up to four cups a day.

As for the mother tincture, this is administered one to three times a day by diluting 30-40 drops in a glass of water. The sedative and hypno-inducing effect occurs within about thirty minutes of taking and subsides after a few hours therefore it can be administered shortly before going to sleep or as needed in case of anxiety, for example before a meeting or an important event such as an exam or job interview, or when you feel agitated and distressed by worries and stress.

Contraindications and side effects

Passionflower is a remedy practically free of toxicity and side effects and for this reason it is often recommended even in children. On the other hand, the intake of passionflower is contraindicated in the case of an established allergy to one or more components and in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Since, as we have seen, passionflower has a sedative action on the central nervous system, its administration is not recommended if you are taking drugs with the same activity, therapies with antidepressants or before a surgery that involves the use of barbiturates to prevent the effects add up. For the same reason, it is best not to take passion flower preparations at the same time as alcoholic beverages. Drugs, natural substances and drinks with a stimulating action, on the other hand, could significantly reduce or cancel the benefits of passionflower. Finally, it is good to ask your doctor for advice if you follow anticoagulant therapy, before starting to take passionflower.

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