Synonyms and Common names: Maypop, grenadille, granadilla, maracoc, passion vine, and purple passionflower.
Description and Habitat: Passionflower is a native of North America but is also cultivated in cooler climates. It is a woody, hairy, climbing vine whose stems are 3-10m long, and they climb by means of axillary tendrils. The alternate, serrate leaves, which have three to five lobes whose midribs all radiate from one point, just like the digits of the human hand. Single, white flowers with a purple, blue or pink calyx crown, bloom from May to July. The fruit is an edible, and is a many-seeded berry (maypop) almost as large as a hen’s egg.
There are over 400 species of tropical passion flowers with sizes ranging from ½ inch to 6 inches across. They are found naturally from South America through to Mexico. Their vibrant colours and heady fragrance make the passionflower herb a welcome addition to any garden. Tropical passion flowers need full sun and well-drained soil.
Parts used: Dried leaves.
Collection and preparation: The leaves should be just before the flowers blossom, between late spring and mid-summer The foliage may be collected with the fruit after flowering, and it should be dried in a shady place.
Actions: Sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, anodyne, anxiolytic, peripheral vasodilator, and hypotensive.
Indications: Insomnia, sleep disorders, restlessness, irritability, nervous stress, anxiety, neuralgia, generalised seizures, hysteria, nervous tachycardia, spasmodic asthma, conditions of high nervous or visceral tension or spasm.
Constituents: Flavonoids (including saponarin, saponetin, vitexin, isovitexin, orientin, and iso-orientin), sterols, cholorogenic acid, maltol, gynocardin, volatile oil, traces of alkaloids (including harmine, harman, harmol, harmaline, harmalol, harmane, and passiflorine), sugars, gum
Indications and Therapeutics: Passionflower is the herb of choice for treating intransigent insomnia. It aids the transition into a restful sleep without any narcotic hangover. It may be used whenever an anti-spasmodic is required, for example, in Parkinson’s disease, seizures and hysteria. It can be very effective in nerve pain such as neuralgia and the viral infection of nerves called shingles. It may be used in asthma where there is much spasmodic activity, especially when there is associated tension.
Contraindications: As with most herbs, avoid during pregnancy and lactating.
Preparation and dosage:
Infusion: 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a cupful of boiling water, leave to steep for 10 to15 minutes, strain and drink this 2 times daily.
Tincture: Take 1-4 ml. of the tinctures and take 2 times daily.
Additional comments and Folklore:
The name Passionflower arose because the corona resembles Christ's crown of thorns, resulting in a great deal of lore regarding Christianity, however, the Passionflower has a long history of traditional use.
It is perhaps most well-known for its calming influence on the nervous system. Herbalists use the plant for anxiety, tension and nervousness. It is a wonderful remedy for people who get over-stimulated and are tightly wound. How it works its calming magic is not exactly known, but it is believed to increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain which creates a relaxing feeling in humans.
Many herbalists like to recommend it for people who cannot let go of their endless thoughts at night, preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep. Passionflower helps the body and mind to wind down, letting go of nervous energy in order to more fully relax. Likewise, because of its calming and anti-spasmodic properties, it is often used for tension and pain. It can be particularly useful for menstrual cramping and PMS tension.
In some areas of the world such as India, people believe that the Passion Flower is a symbol of the Five Pandava Brothers, a family who were all married to the same woman named Draupadi. Again, connected by the flower’s unusual appearance, the several sepals that surround the head are said to represent an army of a thousand men, while the exquisite blue hue in the centre is reflective of the Divine Krishna’s aura.