Passion flower is not only known as a religiously symbolic and easily grown plant. Many varieties of the passion flower’s “passiflora” genus have also been used medicinally for centuries first by Native Americans then by other cultures. The most common medicinal uses were as a remedy for anxiety, insomnia, pain relief, and anti-spasmodic (muscle relaxing).
While it is primarily valued for its nerve-calming properties, passion flower can also be used as a pain reliever for light to moderate pain. Passion flower grows pretty easily and is even spotted as a roadside weed quite often in several states and climates across the United States. Its religious symbolism is tied tothe flower’s supposed visual depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Passion flower as a supplement
Typically the parts of this plant that are used as therapeutic remedies are the leaves, flowers, stems and sometimes the root. There are several species of the passion flower and most of them produce leaves with the active compounds sought for their calming abilities.
One of the most popular ways to take passion flower is in liquid form. This can be a tea or a tincture using the passion flower extract in an alcohol base. The tincture can often be difficult to swallow on its own due to its bitter taste, so it may be diluted in a small amount of water if necessary.
Relief for anxiety and nervousness
The leaves and roots of many passion flower varieties contain compounds called beta-carboline harmala alkaloids. These alkaloids act as natural MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitors. MAO inhibitors aid in the metabolism of feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and norephinephrine.
This produces a calm state of being as well as a sense of well being. It helps reduce feelings of anxiety and lessen the symptoms of stress by elevating the circulation of happiness-promoting chemicals. Passion flower has very few known side-effects which makes it a desirable, natural remedy for anxiety and occasional nervousness. It can also help induce and improve the quality of sleep.
Many varieties of the passiflora family also contain naturally analgesic or pain-relieving flavonoid compounds. These include chrysin, orientin, vitexin and isovitexin. Since these compounds relax the central nervous system they can also help with various kinds of pain such as back pain or nerve related pain. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties which can help relieve pain.
Passion flower also has demonstrated anticonvulsant and antispasmodic properties which may help explain its ability to relieve pain. It has even been researched as a potential remedy for Parkinson’s disease to help ease the shaking that is related to the malfunction of the neurotransmitters. While it likely cannot cure the disease, there is currently evidence that it can help reduce symptoms.
Potential use for ADD and ADHD
The herb has also been considered for the relief of ADD or ADHD symptoms. Inability to concentrate is usually related to an overly stimulated nervous system. Since passion flower helps relax the nervous system, it may have implications in the treatment of attention and concentration related disorders.
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