Passion flower, Passiflora incarnata, is an American native that belongs to a genus of flowering vines, members of which are found throughout the world. Passion flowers, striking in their appearance, consist of a ring of flat violet-colored petals beneath an inner ring of darker tendril-like petals. Some passion flowers produce an edible fruit, called a maypop. The flowers, leaves and stems of the plant offer certain health benefits.
Anti-Depressant and Menopause Relief
Passion flower improves the anti-depression effects of St. John’s Wort, according to a study published in the April 2011 issue of the journal “Fitoterapia.” In the animal study, supplementation with a combination of passion flower and St. John’s Wort significantly enhanced the benefits of St. John’s Wort, leading researchers to conclude that combining the two herbs may make it possible to use lower doses of St. John’s Wort. A study published in the Fall 2010 “Iran Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research” found that supplementation with passion flower improved depression and other symptoms of menopause, including anger, insomnia and headache. Participants consumed passion flower supplements daily for 6 weeks. Significant symptom improvement occurred by the third week. Researchers concluded that passion flower may offer benefits for management of menopause in women who either cannot or choose not to use hormone replacement therapy.
Anti-anxiety benefits of passion flower were demonstrated in an animal study published in the June 2011 issue of “Phytotherapy Research.” Animals given doses of 150 milligrams per kilogram body weight spent more time in open, unprotected and elevated areas during a maze test. Additionally, the supplement did not cause either a sedative or stimulating effect. A study published in the March 2010 “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” found that low doses of passion flower extract reduced anxiety, while higher doses produced a sedative effect.
Passion flower might help manage high blood pressure, according to an animal study published in the January 2013 “Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.” Doses of 50 milligrams per kilogram body weight of passion flower skin extract significantly reduced elevated blood pressure levels. Researchers determined that anthocyanin antioxidant compounds and a compound in passion flower called edulilic acid were responsible for the benefits. An animal study published in the February 2013 issue of the journal “Phytotherapy Research” found that passion flower fruit pulp significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, the upper number of the blood pressure ratio, signifying pressure in arteries during heart contraction. Passion flower extract also increased levels of an antioxidant enzyme and decreased levels of oxidized lipids – lipids damaged from accumulated toxins and waste products. Researchers administered doses of 8 milligrams per day for 5 days.
Passion flower improved quality of sleep in a study published in the August 2011 issue of “Phytotherapy Research.” Participants, ages 18 to 35, with mild sleep disorder, consumed a cup of passion flower tea each night for one week and recorded their quality of sleep in a diary and questionnaire. Results showed that passion flower significantly improved six measured components of sleep quality compared to a control group that did not receive passion flower.
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