If depression is related to the menopause then Passion Flower could be the most effective herb. As well as alleviating symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (which are in themselves depressing enough), the alkaloids "chrysin" and "benzoflavone" present in this herb have been found to increase GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) in the brain. GABA is one of the inhibitory neurotransmitters, used by the brain to prevent over-excitement and attain balance. It also helps to decrease the activity of depression inducing brain cells.
Passion Flower is a gentle anti-anxiety and mildly sedative herb that can even be used to induce a good night's sleep in children. One particular study asked volunteers with trouble sleeping to drink a cup of Passion Flower tea at bedtime for a period of time, all reported significant sleep improvement.
The increased GABA in the brain that Passion Flower can induce will also reduce the anxiety so often associated with insomnia. In addition, Passion Flower is known to be a muscle relaxant, easing away tension that can make it more difficult to drift off to sleep.
Passion Flower is powerfully antioxidant due to the presence of the antioxidant compounds; vitexin, isovitexin, kaempferol, quercetin, rutin, apigenin and luteolin glycosides. It also contains indole alkaloids, fatty acids, gum, maltol, phytosterols, sugars and traces of volatile oils. One compound in particular – quercetin – has been extensively studied, it has been found to be exceptionally effective in ridding the body of damaging free radical molecules and it inhibits various enzymes that cause inflammation.
These compounds also relax the nervous system, helping to relieve nerve related pain such as back pain.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Studies show that using extract of Passion Flower can help to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension). It was found that one cup of Passion Flower tea daily can help to regulate blood pressure levels in people with mild hypertension. However, it is important to note that those on blood pressure medication should not consume this herb as it can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.
Passion Flower Seed Oil
Passion Flower Seed Oil is one of the highest natural sources of omega 6 (linolenic) fatty acid. This healing compound helps to restore the barrier function of skin and can be beneficial to acne sufferers who have been found to have less linolenic acid than "normal" skin types. It is also high in vitamin A which slows down the breakdown of collagen and normalises oil production, making it great for oily skin.
Also great for use on the scalp and hair, Passion Flower Seed Oil moisturises dry hair and its anti-inflammatory properties can help to treat a dry, irritated scalp.
Folklore and history
The name "Passion Flower" was coined in the in the 15th century by Spanish missionaries in Peru who saw this unusual flower as a symbol of the crucifixion. Each part of the flower holds symbolic meaning in recognition of the crucifixion story - the Passion of the Christ. Five sepals and five petals refer to the ten faithful apostles (excluding Judas and Peter). Three stigma represent the three nails that held Christ to the cross, while five anthers represent his five sacred wounds. The tendrils of the flower are said to resemble the whips used in the flagellation, while the filaments, which can number in excess of a hundred depending on the flower, depict the crown of thorns.
Medicinal use of the herb did not begin until the late nineteenth century in the United States, when Passion Flower was used to treat nervous restlessness and gastrointestinal spasms.
This stunningly beautiful flower is native to the Americas where it has been used for centuries to heal bruises and cuts. Modern day herbalists recommend it as a powerful nervine tonic to treat stress, anxiety and to help the mind prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
It has also been used traditionally to provide relief to women who are experiencing menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, and is especially adept at dealing with insomnia related to this change in a woman’s life.
Passion Flower Tea
1 teaspoon of dried cut herb per 1 cup of boiling water. Drink up to 3 times per day.
Passion Flower Tincture
Can be added to water or fruit juice.
Traditionally Taken: 1 - 4ml 3 times per day, or as directed by a Herbal Practitioner.
Passion Flower Seed Oil
Passion Flower Seed Oil can be used as a light, non-greasy carrier oil for an aromatherapy bath or massage. Just choose your favourite essential oils, dilute and use for a regenerating and replenishing massage or relaxing bath. Passion Flower Seed Oil blends well with other carrier oils if you want a thicker more luxurious consistency.
Passion Flower Seed Oil can also be used in homemade, natural skin and hair preparations or applied directly to the skin.
Alkaloids, such as harmine, harman, harmol, harmaline, harmalol, and passaflorine.
Flavonoids, apigenin, various glycosides, homoorientin, isovitexin, kaempferol, luteolin, orientin,quercetin, rutin, saponaretin, saponarin and vitexen.
Do not take Passion Flower if pregnant, breastfeeding or suffering from liver damage/disease.
Passion Flower can interfere with blood thinning and blood pressure medications. If you are taking any medication, please consult your health care practitioner.
Due to its sedative effects, driving or operating machinary is not recommended after consuming Passion Flower.