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Passion flower

Passion flower
Photo © P. Schönfelder

Botanical name

(Flesh coloured) Passion Flower - Passiflora incarnata L.

Family

Passion flower plants (Passifloraceae)

Useful information about the plant

Passion flowers are native plants of the tropical rain forest, and thus most species grow in tropical and subtropical areas of Central, North and South America. 20 species grow in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Because of their unusual flowers they were popular collectibles of botanists and collectors, who by the 18th and 19th century ensured the wide distribution of various types. Therefore, the genus Passiflora is now found in all tropical and subtropical areas. Because of the Spanish conquests, Passiflora species came to Europe as an ornamental plant and are now very popular here. The flesh-coloured Passion flower is resistant to the cold and can grown be outdoors and survive the winter of milder climates. The wild growing plants in southern Europe are wild specimens of the sky blue passion flower (P. caerulea). The Spanish physician and botanist, Nicolás Monardes, saw in the striking flowers of P. caerulea (Blue Heaven Passion Flower) the symbol of the Passion of Christ, and therefore called the plant "Flos Passionis", derived from the Latin "passio" (= suffering), then translated into English, "Passion Flower". The crown-shaped, whitish-blue-stained goblet represented the crown of thorns and the colour his innocence, the filamentous petals are torn the clothes of Jesus. The cup fruit uplifted by a pedicle in the axis one recognises the column to which Christ was bound, in the upper ovary the gall-soaked sponge. The 3 stigmas represent the nails, the 5 stamens the five wounds and the anthers the striking tools. The exceptionally large flowers with a diameter of 5 to 9cm hang separately on the vine of a climbing plant that grows up to 10m high. Flowering time is May to September. The leaves are deeply lobed in three parts. The passion fruit juice is extracted from up to 6cm large fruit (passion fruit).

Medicinally used plant parts (drug)

The dried, crushed or cut aerial parts of the plant (passion flower herb) are used. The drug is mainly from the leaves, flower parts and pieces thereof may also be included. The drug comes from USA and India.

Ingredients of the drug

Passion flower herb contains flavonoids, cyanogenic glycosides, amino acids and polysaccharides.

Descriptions of the quality

The quality of the herb passionflower (Passiflora herba) is specified in the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.).

Medical Application

Recognised medical use

For restlessness (Commission E): with stress, restlessness and irritability, with difficulty falling asleep (ESCOP). The HMPC has classified passion flower herb as a traditional herbal medicinal product (see "traditional use").

Traditional use

Passion flower herb was categorised by the HMPC as a traditional herbal medicine (§ 39a AMG). Based on many years of experience, the passion flower herb is used to improve slight stress symptoms and as a sleeping aid. Alone or in combination with other drugs Passion flower herb is traditionally used to improve the condition of nervous stress (traditional use acc. to § 109a).

Medicinal herbal preparations in finished drug products

Dosage

Prepared drugs: see package insert;
Tea infusion: drink a cup of warm passion flower tea 2 to 4 times a day, half an hour before bedtime to help fall asleep. Single dose of about 2 grams of the drug is a useful combination with other drugs such as valerian root, hops flowers and lemon balm leaves (sleeping and calming).

Preparation of a tea infusion

Pour 150ml of boiling water over 2 cups finely chopped Passion flower and strain after 5 to 10 min.

Advice

It has not been entirely ruled out that Passion flower may impair your ability to drive. There are still no studies on the safety of using the Passion flower herb during pregnancy and breast-feeding as well as in children under 12 years old.

Side effects

At most allergic reactions

Interactions

None known

References

Drug monographs

HMPC, Commission E, ESCOP, WHO Vol. 3

Further reading

Wichtl: Teedrogen und Phytopharmaka, pg. 486
Schilcher: Leitfaden Phytotherapie, pg. 195
Van Wyk: Handbuch der Arzneipflanzen, pg. 227
Kommentar zum Europäischen Arzneibuch (Passion flower herb, no. 1459)

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