Passionflower or Passiflora is a genus, that includes approximately 500 species of flowering plants. The plants of this genus belong to the plant family, Passifloraceae. Most of the members of this genus are vines, while a few are shrubs and herbaceous plants. They are native to southeastern America, though nowadays these plants are grown in many parts of the world as well.
The plants of the Passiflora genus produce large, attractive flowers, called passion flowers. They are characterized by a unique and complex structure. They usually contain five petals and five sepals, which can be white, blue, yellow, purple, or magenta in color.
Passion fruits are usually round and slightly elongated in shape. Some species of Passiflora produce edible fruits, while a few species bear fruits that are not considered fit for human consumption. The plant that is more commonly used for medicinal purposes is Passiflora incarnata. The flowers along with the leaves and stem of Passiflora incarnata have been used in traditional or folk medicine to treat a number of health conditions.
Benefits of Passion Flower
It is the traditional herbal remedy for anxiety, insomnia, and epilepsy. The flower is supposed to have sedative and antispasmodic properties. It is thought to be very effective in relieving muscle tension. Due to its calming effect, the flower is used for treating hysteria and seizures as well.
The medicinal properties of this plant and its flowers are largely attributed to their effect on the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain. The flower or its extract can help lower the level of this neurotransmitter in the brain, which in turn, can reduce the activities of certain neurons and thus relax the mind.
The antispasmodic effect of the flower may help alleviate gastrointestinal problems, especially those related to anxiety and nervousness. Apart from these, it is used for treating asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness, high blood pressure, palpitations, and irregular heartbeat.
Passion Flower Dangers
When used in moderation, it has not been found to cause any serious side effects. An overdose can however, cause fatigue, nausea, drowsiness, and vomiting. Sometimes, mild confusion along with dizziness and irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) can also be experienced by some individuals. Additionally, it can interact with certain medications and herbs. For example, passion flower or its extract can increase the effects of antidepressants, and so, their simultaneous use can cause excessive drowsiness or sleepiness.
This herbal extract can also interact with anticoagulants and antihistamines. Antihistamines are known to produce side effects like drowsiness, which can worsen, if these drugs are taken along with this herbal extract. On the other hand, if taken with anticoagulants, this herbal extract can increase the risk of bleeding. Rarely, some individuals can also experience an allergic reaction that can manifest in skin rash or hives, breathing difficulty, asthma, and inflammation of the skin and blood vessels.
For pregnant and nursing women, the safety of passion flower and its extract is not known with certainty. Therefore, women are advised to avoid this herbal remedy during pregnancy, as well as while breastfeeding. To sum up, the side effects of this herbal extract are more likely to be experienced, when it is used in excessive amount, or along with other herbs and medications. Therefore, it is imperative to consult a health care provider before taking any herbs or herbal supplements, especially if you are taking medications for an underlying health condition. This would help avoid the side effects, while enabling you to realize the health benefits of the supplement.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.