Passion Flower & The "Over-Thinker"
Passion flower, botanically known as Passiflora incarnata, has a lot of history around the world. In Italy is was used to treat hyperactive children that had issues with muscle twitches and irritability. The Mayans used passion flower to treat insomnia, hysteria and convulsions. Here in North America, it was used by the Native American Indian tribes for earaches, boils and other inflammations. Some tribes used the roots to treat liver problems and as a blood tonic, while others used the entire plant for excessive mental activity.
The most famous bit of history goes to the early Jesuit priests and other Italian and Spanish explorers. It was these groups that gave passion flower its name. When you look at the center of the blossom, it looks like the Crown of Thorns given to Jesus of Nazareth. It was during the early 17th century that these priests and explorers used passion flower as the symbol of the crucifixion.
Passion flower is one of my go-to herbs when it comes to calming the mind. Anxiety and “brain squirrels” are not fun! Especially if you get those nervous headaches. One of the reasons I use it in our Sleepy time Tonic is because there are just too many people who can’t sleep due to mental worry or have the agitation with exhaustion. Before Covid, I saw this a lot. However, over the past 2 years more and more people are staying away from the office drama, the freeway driving nightmare and finding new ways to unwind.
So what therapeutic and/or chemical effect does passion flower have on the body?
- Anodyne – reduces pain
- Anti-spasmodic – prevents or relieves spams
- Diaphoretic – causes perspiration and increases elimination through the skin
- Hypotensive – reduces blood pressure
- Nervine – strengthens functional activity of the nervous system
- Sedative (mild) – exerts a soothing or tranquilizing effect on the mind and body
As you may have already noticed, Passion flower is a wonderful herb for the nervous system. We use the leaves and the fruit and it can be prepared as a tea, used as a powder or as a tincture, one of my favorites.
Passion flower has an amazing ability to tap into the medulla oblongata part of the brain. This is the part of the brain that controls vomiting, hiccoughs, blood pressure and our respirations when we sleep.
Over the years I have used passion flower for a variety of conditions: Nervous headaches, those with a lack of focus, the “chronic worrier”, the “overthinker”, the “head strong human”, insomnia, spasmodic asthma, spasmodic dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), restlessness – especially in PTSD and trauma, hyperactivity in kids, big and small, irritation associated with those who are trying to overcome alcohol abuse, and in some cases, eye infections caused by bacteria.
Herbalist Paul Bergner elaborates, “Passiflora has a mixed reputation because it is sometimes ineffective. It is my opinion that this is due to ignorance of its indications rather than variability of the plant potency. It is best suited to the weak, fragile, or exhausted patient with insomnia, agitation, and/or spasm or muscular twitching. The exhaustion might come from chronic illness, debilitating fever, over work, worry, old age, etc. but there is always a fragility or exhaustion.”
Caution: Young children, it can make them puke, Pregnancy and lactation, Low blood pressure (as a simple, blends are normally ok), Depression or if you are on barbiturates or other prescription hypnotics
As we do with every presentation, remember, each of us has a different story so our current health depends on the person and the situation. If you have a lot of health issues, ask your ND, Herbalist or practitioner about using comfrey or other herbs you are unsure of. They will be able to guide you in this.
*For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.