Passionflower (passiflora incarnata) is native to Central and South America, but is now grown throughout Europe, especially in Italy. Belonging to the family passifloraceae, passionflower (or flower of passion) was given its name by Spanish missionaries who thought the flower represented some of the crucifixion of Christ. It is known by several other names, as well, including maypop and apricot vine. It is a perennial climbing vine with herbaceous shoots that grow up to 32 feet long. Passionflower yields striking, large white flowers with pink or purple centers and produces a delicious fruit, which is about the size of a large lemon.
Passionflower was used first in the Americas, and later on in Europe, as a soothing herb for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hysteria and it also acts as a muscle relaxant. It is a sedative which acts on the central nervous system. It is widely employed today, by herbalists and natural health practitioners around the world, for its nervine, sedative, anti-spasmodic and analgesic effects. Passionflower is available as concoctions, teas, liquid extracts and tinctures. It is believed to work through the combination of the alkaloids, flavonoids, and 8-pyrone derivatives. Patients suffering from insomnia, epilepsy, neuralgia and acute anxiety have been given the herb with good effects. The flavonoid apigenin found in passionflower has antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been used to treat ailments like blood pressure, muscle spasms, and mild palpitations.
Passionflower is both an edible and medicinal plant. As a tea, passionflower is often mixed with valerian, lemon balm, chamomile, skullcap, St. John’s wort or other relaxing herbs. It has a pleasant, very mild but unusual taste that is hard to describe. The color of the concoction is a very pale green which is lighter in color than most herbal teas. Some people say that the scent has an aphrodisiac fragrance.
The following is an example of passionflower tea dosage used for adults. (Ask your doctor for specific recommendations for your condition.)
Soak 0.5 – 2 g or about 1 teaspoon of dried herb in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and cool. For anxiety, drink 3 to 4 cups per day. For people with insomnia, drink one cup an hour before bedtime.
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