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Passion Flower

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Passion Flower


Passion flower (Passiflora incarnate) may also be called Maypop or passionflower. Even though it is considered to be a tropical plant, there are some varieties that may grow in colder climates as well. Passion flower grows in the wild but may be cultivated in small gardens with a lot of shade and good drainage. This plant is native to Central, North and South America.

The Passion flower has a very long vine which may grow up to 9.2 meters. It has alternate leaves and white flowers that have a beautiful purple center. All the parts of the Passion flower may be used for medicinal purposes including its stems and leaves. It is available as a herbal tea, in small extracts, and in capsule or tablet form. The Passion flower may be combined with other herbs to treat specific medical conditions but it is mainly used as a sedative and as a treatment for Insomnia.

History and Origin

This flower was discovered by Spanish explorers in Peru in 1569. The Passion flower was considered to be rather a mysterious bud and was later compared to the Passion of Christ, the different parts of the plant representing the crucifixion and death of Christ. It was further described by Seventh Century Spanish priests as “The Flower with the Five Wounds”. The Passion flower blooms from May to July. The Passion flower was considered as a treatment for insomnia and restlessness. In ancient Europe, it was used as a homeopathic tea to treat pain and nervousness.

Ancient Uses

In ancient times, when the first Spanish explorers landed in Peru, they had made accounts of natives using the Passion flower as a treatment for hysteria and nervousness. It was mixed with water and served as a tea and may also have been used to cure bronchial disorders like asthma, as a poultice for burns, hemorrhoids, for attention deficit disorders and for children with unexplainable nervousness and anxiety.

Modern Uses

Passion flower studies have determined that it has a mild to moderate sedative effects and if combined with other sedative agents may be used for sedation before a major surgical procedure. It is also noted that it can be used to treat bronchial spasms in asthma, palpitations and other cardiac problems. Studies of the ability of the Passion flower as an antifungal agent has been successful against molds, yeasts and may also be effective for other gram positive bacteria. Passion flower may also be used for menopausal signs and symptoms.

Side Effects

Regular use of Passion flower has no significant side effects but it is of course cautioned in people who drive and operate machinery owing to its sedative effects. If used for the treatment of asthma in young children, consult a doctor first before starting the medication. Some children may have no known tolerance to Passion flower but it is however best to consult a medical professional in the emergency treatment of breathlessness in asthma.

Passion flower may also be contraindicated in breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women since it readily passes through the blood stream and may induce sleeplessness in an infant or cause serious brain and tissue damage in an unborn child.

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