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Passionflower

Passionflower

Description

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata ) is a creeping perennial vine with white, purple-tinged flowers and orange berries that grows to a height of up to 30 ft (9 m). First used by Native Americans and the Aztecs of Mexico as a sedative, passionflower has been a popular folk remedy for centuries in Europe and North America. Other names for passionflower include maypop, granadilla, passion vine, and apricot vine. The herb, which is generally used today to alleviate anxiety and insomnia , received its curious name from the Spanish conquistadors who over-ran Mexico and Peru in the sixteenth century. In the flowers of the vine, they saw various symbols of the Passion of Christ, which in Christian tradition refers to the period of time between the Last Supper and Christ's death. In the Spaniard's elaborate analogy, the corona in the center of the flower was thought to resemble the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The flower's tendrils symbolized whips, the five stamens represented Christ's wounds , the total number of petals corresponded to the 10 faithful apostles (Peter and Judas did not make the cut), and so on.

While there are over 400 species belonging to the genus Passiflora, the variety used for medicinal purposes is called incarnata, which can be translated "embodied." The plant is obtained primarily from the southern United States, India, and the West Indies, though passionflower also grows in Mexico as well as Central and South America. Only the parts of the plant that grow above the ground are used as a drug, in fresh and dried form.

Some investigations of passionflower have been conducted in humans; in addition, animal and other studies suggest that the herb has sedative, anxiolytic, and antispasmodic properties. The German Commission E, considered an authoritative source of information on alternative remedies, reported that passionflower appears to reduce restlessness in animals. In a 1988 study involving rats that was published in a German journal of pharmacology, passionflower was shown to prolong sleep, reduce motor activity, and protect the rodents from convulsions. Despite findings such as these, researchers have been unable to identify the herb's active ingredients. Attention has focused on flavonoids (medicinal passionflower contains up to 2.5% of these chemicals); maltol; and harmala alkaloids such as harman, harmine,

harmaline, and harmalol. (The Germans attempted to use harmine as a truth serum during World War II because of the chemical's reputation for inducing a euphoria-like state.) Some researchers speculate that it is the interaction, or synergy, of several chemicals in passionflower that is responsible for the herb's therapeutic effects.

General use

Although it has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), passionflower is mainly used in the United States and Europe to relieve anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. It is also recommended for the relief of nausea caused by nervousness or anxiety. The herb appears to work, at least in part, by mildly depressing the central nervous system and preventing muscle spasms. In its capacity as a sedative and sleep aid, passionflower has been endorsed by several important European research organizations. For over 15 years, passionflower has been approved by Commission E for the treatment of nervous unrest. The European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy has approved the herb for use in people who experience tension, restlessness, and insomnia associated with irritability. Passionflower is listed in many national pharmacopoeiae as a drug plant.

Passionflower is often used in combination with other sedative plants. In the United Kingdom, it is an ingredient in several dozen over-the-counter (OTC) sedatives. In Germany, the herb is used as an ingredient in sedative preparations that also include valerian and lemon balm . The standardized sedative tea formula approved by Commission E contains 30% passionflower, 40% valerian root, and 30% lemon balm. Passionflower is also used in Germany in a special sedative tea for children. The ingredients of this tea typically include 30% passionflower, 30% lemon balm, 30% lavender flower, and 10% St. John's wort . In combination with hawthorn , passionflower is also used to alleviate digestive spasms associated with gastritis and colitis.

In the past, passionflower was approved by the FDA as an ingredient in OTC sleep aids and sedative products. This approval was revoked in 1978 during a review by the agency, but not because the reviewers found passion-flower to be unsafe or ineffective. Drug manufacturers were responsible for submitting information about the safety and effectiveness of OTC medications under review by the FDA. No companies submitted data for passionflower, so the herb was denied approval because it had no sponsors.

Throughout its history, passionflower has been used to treat a variety of medical problems in addition to those mentioned above. These include epilepsy, diarrhea, neuralgia, asthma , whooping cough , seizures, painful menstruation , and hemorrhoids (when used externally). Some herbalists also recommend passionflower as a treatment for Parkinson's disease , based on their belief that the harmine and harmaline in the herb may help to counteract the effects of the disorder. As of 2000, these additional uses for passionflower are considered speculative.

In 2002, a team of American researchers published a report finding that passionflower shows promise as a chemopreventive for cancer . The scientists found that passionflower extract inhibits an early antigen of Epstein-Barr virus, which suggests that it may also inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.

Preparations

Recommended dosages of passionflower generally range from 48 g of herb a day. While it is typically used in preparations containing other sedative ingredients, it may also be used alone. Passionflower tea can be prepared by steeping 1 teaspoonful of the herb in 150 ml of simmering water. The mixture should be strained after about 10 minutes. Dosage is usually two or three cups of tea a day, taken during the day and a half-hour before going to bed. The liquid extract preparation is usually taken three times a day in doses of 0.51.0 ml. Dosage for the tincture is 0.52.0 ml three times a day. Tablets containing passionflower are available in the United Kingdom. Persons who use a combination product containing passionflower should follow the package directions for use.

Precautions

Passionflower is not known to be harmful when taken in recommended dosages, though there are some precautions to consider. The herb contains two potentially dangerous alkaloids called harman and harmaline. In large amounts, these chemicals may stimulate the tissue of the uterus. However, most authorities believe that the amounts of harman and harmaline contained in medicinal passionflower are too small to have an adverse effect when the herb is used in normal amounts. Caution should also be exercised when combining passionflower with certain medications (see below).

While self-care measures such as passionflower may be effective in relieving anxiety or insomnia, these problems may be a symptom of a more serious psychological disorder that requires consultation with a mental health professional. Nighttime sleep aids should not be used for longer than two weeks without seeking medical advice. Due to lack of sufficient medical study, passionflower should be used with caution in children, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and people with liver or kidney disease.

Side effects

When taken in recommended dosages, passion-flower has not been associated with any significant or bothersome side effects.

Interactions

Passionflower has the potential to interact adversely with certain medications. The harman and harmaline in passionflower may increase the effects of prescription antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which are generally used to treat depression , panic attacks, and eating disorders. Passionflower may also increase the effects of OTC sedatives as well as those sold by prescription.

Resources

BOOKS

Gruenwald, Joerg. PDR for Herbal Medicines. New Jersey: Medical Economics, 1998.

Newall, Carol A. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1996.

Sifton, David W. PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines and Healing Therapies. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.

Tyler, Varro E. Herbs of Choice. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994.

PERIODICALS

Kapadia, G. J., M. A. Azuine, H. Tokuda, et al. "Inhibitory Effect of Herbal Remedies on 12-o-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-Acetate-Promoted Epstein-Barr Virus Early Antigen Activation." Pharmacological Research 45 (March 2002): 213-222.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Botanical Council. P.O. Box 144345. Austin, TX 78714-4345. http://www.herbalgram.org.

Herb Research Foundation. 1007 Pearl Street. Suite 200. Boulder, CO 80302. http://www.herbs.org.

OTHER

Discovery Health. http://www.discoveryhealth.com.

OnHealth. http://www.onhealth.com.

Greg Annussek

Rebecca J. Frey, PhD

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"Passionflower." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Passionflower." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. . Retrieved June 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/passionflower

Passionflower

Passionflower

Definition

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata ) is a vine whose leaves and flowers are widely used in Europe to make a herbal remedy for anxiety and insomnia . The plant, which is native to the tropical regions of North America, was first used by the Aztecs of Mexico as a folk remedy for these conditions. Passionflower is also known as maypop, apricot vine, passion vine, and granadilla. It grows as much as 30 ft (10 m) tall, with a thick, woody stem.

Passionflower received its name from the sixteenth-century conquistadors who claimed Mexico for the Spanish Empire. The priests and soldiers who accompanied Hernando Cortez thought that the whitish-purple flowers of the vine symbolized certain features of the passion of Christ. The corona in the center of the flower reminded them of Christ's crown of thorns, the five stamens of the number of Christ's wounds, and the tendrils of the whips that were used to scourge Christ.

Purpose

Passionflower is still used as a sedative and anxiolytic, although far more frequently in Great Britain and Europe than in the United States. In Britain, passionflower is the single most common ingredient in herbal sedatives, and the German Commission E approved it for use as a tranquilizer. It is also used in homeopathic remedies. In addition to its long-standing uses as a remedy for anxiety and insomnia, passionflower has also been recommended for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders related to anxiety; asthma; tachycardia (an abnormally rapid heartbeat); menstrual cramps; seizures ; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ; and hysteria. A topical preparation made from passionflower has been used to treat hemorrhoids.

The parts of the plant that grow above the ground are gathered to make passionflower preparations. They may be used either fresh or dried. The most common sources of the passionflower that is used today are India, the West Indies, and the southern United States, even though the vine can also be grown in Mexico and Latin America.

Description

Passionflower preparations may be made from the flowers, leaves, or shoots of the plant. After the first fruits of the plant have matured, younger shoots growing 12.717.8 cm. above the ground are harvested and air-dried. The plant material is then used to prepare infusions, teas, liquid extracts, and tinctures of passionflower. In Europe, passionflower is often combined with lemon balm or valerian to make a sedative tea. The standardized formula approved by the German Commission E contains 30% passionflower, 40% valerian root, and 30% lemon balm. Passionflower is also used to make a special sedative tea for children, which typically includes 30% passionflower, 30% lemon balm, 30% lavender flower, and 10% St. John's wort . Passionflower is sometimes combined with hawthorn to make a remedy for stomach cramps associated with gastritis.

Although passionflower has been shown in animal studies to have sedative and antispasmodic effects, researchers are not yet certain which compounds in the plant have these properties. Passionflower is known to contain flavonoids and a group of alkaloid compounds that include harman, harmine, harmaline, and harmalol. Some researchers have hypothesized that the medicinal effects of passionflower derive from a combination of these substances rather than from any of them in isolation. A recent Swiss study, however, appears to indicate that a flavonoid called chrysin may be the source of passionflower's anxiolytic properties.

Recommended dosage

As the German recipe indicates, passionflower is considered safe for children. Dosages for children should be calculated on the basis of the child's weight. Since most adult dosages of herbal remedies assume an average adult weight of 150 lb (70 kg), a child weighing 50 lb (23 kg) can be given 1/3 of the adult dose.

Recommended adult doses of passionflower are as follows:

  • Infusion: 25 g of dried herb, up to three times daily
  • Fluid extract (1:1 ratio in a solution of 25% alcohol):0.51.0 mL up to three times daily
  • Tincture (1:5 ratio in a solution of 45% alcohol):0.52.0 mL up to three times daily.

Precautions

Passionflower should not be used in doses higher than the recommended levels. Because it has a sedative effect, it should not be combined with alcoholic beverages or prescription sedatives. Passionflower should not be used by pregnant or lactating women, or for children under six months old.

Side effects

As of 2002, passionflower has not been reported to cause any significant side effects when taken at recommended dosage levels.

Interactions

The alkaloids found in passionflower, especially harman and harmaline, may increase the effects of a class of prescription antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These drugs are most often prescribed for depression, panic attacks, and eating disorders. Passionflower may also increase the effects of over-the-counter sedatives as well as prescription sedatives.

Resources

BOOKS

Pelletier, Kenneth R., MD. "Western Herbal Medicine: Nature's Green Pharmacy." Chapter 6 in The Best Alternative Medicine. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.

Tyler, Varro E. Herbs of Choice. New York: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994.

PERIODICALS

Capasso, A., and A. Pinto. "Experimental Investigations of the Synergistic-Sedative Effect of Passiflora and Kava." Acta Therapeutica 21 (1995): 127140.

Soulimani, R., C. Younos, S. Jarmouni, and others. "Behavioural Effects of Passiflora incarnata L. and its Indole Alkaloid and Flavonoid Derivatives and Maltol in the Mouse." Journal of Ethnopharmacology 57 (1997): 1120.

Zanoli, P., R. Avallone, and M. Baraldi. "Behavioral Characterisation of the Flavonoids Apigenin and Chrysin." Fitoterapia 71 (2000): S117S123.

OTHER

American Botanical Council. PO Box 144345. Austin, TX 78714-4345. <www.herbalgram.org>.

Herb Research Foundation. 1007 Pearl Street. Suite 200. Boulder, CO 80302. <www.herbs.org>.

Rebecca J. Frey, Ph.D.

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"Passionflower." Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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passionflower

passionflower, any plant of the genus Passiflora, mostly tropical American vines having pulpy fruits. Some species are grown in greenhouses for their large, unusual flowers of various colors; those seen by early Spanish settlers were interpreted as symbolic of the Crucifixion (whence the name), the 10 petals and sepals, fringed corona, five stamens, three styles, and coiling tendrils representing in order the 10 faithful apostles, crown of thorns, wounds, nails, and scourges. The most common native North American species (P. incarnata), ranging as far north as Missouri and Pennsylvania, has purple-and-white flowers and edible egg-shaped fruits called maypops. Several species of the large-fruited granadillas are cultivated commercially in the tropics for fruit, flavoring, and beverages. Passionflowers are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Violales, family Passifloraceae.

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passion flower

passion flower Any plant of the genus Passiflora, climbing tropical plants that probably originated in tropical America, especially the blue passion flower, P. caerulea. The flowers can be various colours; the outer petals ring a fringed centre. The leaves are lobed and some species produce edible fruits, such as granadilla and calabash. Family Passifloraceae.

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"passion flower." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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passionflower

pas·sion·flow·er / ˈpashənˌflou(-ə)r/ (also passion flower) • n. an evergreen climbing plant (genus Passiflora, family Passifloraceae) of warm regions that bears distinctive flowers with parts that supposedly resemble instruments of the Crucifixion.

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"passionflower." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"passionflower." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/passionflower

"passionflower." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved June 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/passionflower

passion flower

passion flowerbower, cower, devour, dower, embower, empower, endower, flour, flower, gaur, Glendower, glower, hour, lour, lower, our, plougher (US plower), power, scour, shower, sour, Stour, sweet-and-sour, tower •Beckenbauer • Eisenhower •Schopenhauer • safflower •passion flower • bellflower •mayflower • cauliflower • wallflower •cornflour, cornflower •sunflower • elderflower • man-hour •Adenauer • manpower • brainpower •willpower • horsepower • firepower •water power • rush hour •watchtower

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"passion flower." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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