Passionflower: The herb for anxiety and insomnia

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Passionflower for stress relief

The passiflora or passionflower is a family of climbing plants with important calming properties.

Passionflower and history

Native Americans used passionflower to treat a variety of conditions, including rashes, trauma, ear pain and liver problems. The Spanish missionaries learned from the native Peruvians about the plant, whose name symbolizes the Divine Passion – this unusual radiant flower symbolizes the crown of thorns of Christ. Until the 18th century, passionflower became popular in Europe as a treatment for insomnia and epilepsy.

In what forms is passionflower available?

The herb is available in the market dried (for decoction), as an extract and as a tablet. You can add herb powder to boiling water to make tea. You can also find pre-packaged tea in many health food stores. It is also available as a tincture (alcoholic solution).

This dietary supplement is considered to be able to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, pain, heart rhythm problems, menopausal symptoms, asthma, convulsions, hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. It is also applied to the skin for burns and for the treatment of hemorrhoids [1].

Passionflower and properties

Passiflora incarnata is the most studied species, it is a species with purple flowers, which can help, among other things, in anxiety and insomnia disorders. Also, studies in animal models suggest that the herb has anti-diabetic, anti-asthma, anti-epileptic and anti-inflammatory effects.

It increases GABA levels in the brain, which promotes relaxation. One study found that low-dose P. incarnata consumption, as a decoction, had short-term sleep benefits for healthy adults with mild sleep disorders. In patients who have undergone surgery and dental extraction, it has been reported that preoperative use of the herb has reduced stress.

One study found that the plant reduced stress and improved memory in rats within four weeks. These results may be due to the fact that P. incarnata affects GABA levels, however, the conclusions about the degree of efficacy vary from study to study.

Other types of passionflower have been shown to protect against stomach upsets. A study published in BioMed Research International looked at Passiflora serratodigititata leaf and stem extract. This extract has been shown to be effective in treating ulcers in rats [4]. A study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology looked at the potential of Passiflora foetida and found that it helped relieve stomach ulcers in rats while at the same time highlighting the plant’s antioxidant potential. But people need research.

P. incarnata has been used for diseases other than sleep disorders and anxiety such as e.g. to reduce the symptoms of menopause. In a study of 59 postmenopausal women, participants showed a significant reduction in symptoms such as headaches, depression, insomnia and anger, compared with the control group, within 3-6 weeks. Another study showed that taking a mixture, including P. incarnata, increased the time between seizures. Some findings suggest that passionflower may have anti-inflammatory effects, but more research is needed.

It has been shown that the herb can help fight the withdrawal symptoms from opiate medications, reducing psychological symptoms such as stress and irritability. Also, due to its antispasmodic and sedative effect, it is considered that it can fight some types of pain, however there is no evidence for this.

It should be noted that the small number of studies does not allow clear conclusions to be drawn. According to a reliable source at the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), more research is needed to assess the potential uses of passionflower [1].

Passionflower and side effects

According to the NCCIH, passionflower is generally considered safe but can cause some side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. In large doses it may lead to suppression of the central nervous system and slow heart rate or even arrhythmias [6].

The safety of paciflora supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children and people with medical conditions or receiving other treatment has not been established. In the case of pregnancy, it may cause uterine contractions and behavioral dysfunction in the offspring. A study in rats has shown that it can negatively affect the behavior of male offspring.

Finally, a study showed that when passionflower was used at the same time as St. John’s wort, it enhanced its effects.

At Vita4you.gr you will find a wide variety of passionflower supplements!

References

  1. Passionflower.
  2. A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Investigation of the Effects of Passiflora Incarnata (Passionflower) Herbal Tea on Subjective Sleep Quality.
  3. Antiulcerogenic Potential Activity of Free and Nanoencapsulated Passiflora serratodigitata L. Extracts.
  4. Antiulcer and antioxidant activity of ethanolic extract of Passiflora foetida L.
  5. Role Identification of Passiflora Incarnata Linnaeus: A Mini Review.
  6. Passionflower.
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