Passiflora incarnata, Passifloraceae

Passionflower Passionflower is a fast growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems. A member of the passionflower genus Passiflora, the Maypop has large, intricate flowers with prominent styles and stamens. One of the hardiest species of passionflower, it is a common wildflower in the southern United States. The Cherokee in the Tennessee area called it ocoee; the Ocoee River and valley are named after this plant, which is the Tennessee State Wildflower. The “Passion” in “passion flower” refers to the passion of Jesus in Christian theology. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries adopted the unique physical structures of this plant, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and especially his crucifixion

Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia.[1] It may improve the quality of sleep[2] The fresh or dried leaves are used to treat insomnia, hysteria, and is also valued for its analgesic properties.[2]

[1] Plants For A Future: Passiflora incarnata

[2] Ngan A, Conduit R. ,”A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Investigation of the Effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) Herbal Tea on Subjective Sleep Quality.” Phytother Res. 2011 Feb 3;

Passionflower has been found to contain beta-carboline harmala alkaloids[3], harman, harmaline, harmalol, harmine, and harmol, which are MAO inhibitors with anti-depressant properties. In initial trials for treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, maypop extract performed as well as oxazepam but with fewer short-term side effects. It was recommended to follow up with long-term studies.[1] Other compounds found in passion flowers are coumarins (e.g. scopoletin and umbelliferone), maltol, phytosterols (e.g. lutenin) Many flavonoids and their glycosides have been found in Passiflora, Also found in passionflower is chrysin, a flavone with confirmed anxiolytic and anti-inflammatory, supposed aromatase inhibitor properties. [2][3][4]

[1] Akhondzadeh, Shahin; Naghavi, H.R.; Vazirian, M.; Shayeganpour, A.; Rashidi, H. & Khani, M. (2001): Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics 26(5): 363-367.

[2] Dhawan, Kamaldeep; Kumar, Suresh & Sharma, Anupam (2002): Beneficial Effects of Chrysin and Benzoflavone on Virility in 2-Year-Old Male Rats. Journal of Medicinal Food 5(1): 43-48.

[3] Duke, James A. [2008]: Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases – Passiflora spp.


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