Passion for Passionflower
Passion flower is not only a beautiful garden climber, it's a wonderful source of healthful properties as well. It has been used for ages for all manner of mental, emotional, and physical upsets.
A little history
Passion flower, or passion vine, (scientific name Passiflora) includes all manner of species that seem to be separated by color, variation, fruit characteristics, and even distribution or habitat. Passion vine is in the family Passifloraceae and has also been called passionflower, passion vine, maypop, and apricot vine.
Its moniker of “passion” stems from the look of the plant's blossoms and its subsequent symbolic representation of Jesus' crucifixion. The ten petal-like parts are said to represent Jesus' disciples (excluding Peter and Judas), the five stamens the injuries Jesus received during crucifixion, the stigmas the nails, and the fringe on the blossom, his crown of thorns. The spiritual connection of this flower in any case, makes it a great healthful candidate for spiritual healing as well as physical.
There's a bit of mystery surrounding exactly how this plant was used by native peoples in its regions of native growth, but some texts point to Europeans' use of the plant as it related to their Catholic teachings at the time. This lore of the passion vine is interesting to say the least, and its medicinal uses can date back to ancient times, with its popularity in horticulture soaring in the early nineteenth century.
Healing properties and healthful benefits
The most remarkable thing about passionflower has to be its ability to soothe. Insomnia, depression, anxiety, and fitful rest are all conditions that can be treated with passionflower. The nutrients found within this plant—leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds—include vitamins A and C and trace amounts of B complex vitamins, fiber, flavonoid antioxidants, potassium, and minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, and phosphorous. So what do all these nutrients do for health?
Vitamin A and the carotene and cryptoxanthin antioxidants found within the fruit of passionflower have been linked to healthy eyes. These nutrients aid in maintaining healthy eyes and eyesight.
Vitamin C is no joke! We need this vitamin to help support our immune systems as well as skin health. Vitamin C aids in boosting immunity against illness. Which is why we need it during cold and flu season!
Potassium is necessary to regulate heart rate and blood pressure, and is also a crucial component in cellular function and balance of bodily fluids.
Iron and copper are crucial in the production of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to all other parts of the body.
Magnesium is used by the body to convert sugars to energy, metabolizes calcium and Vitamin C, and keeps your heart beating in proper rhythm. Without enough magnesium, you could experience heart spasms, nervousness, confusion and even calcium depletion.
Phosphorous is a necessary nutrient that has a variety of jobs within the body. Firstly, in conjunction with calcium, phosphorous is crucial in building strong bones and teeth. It's also needed for growth, maintenance, and repair of all your tissues and cells. Phosphorous also plays a role in healthy kidney function by filtering toxins and waste from the body.
Utilizing the medicinal properties of Passionflower
Passionflower is one of those easy to grow vines if you're in the right climate for it. Check your climate/gardening zone, and try to find a species that will easily adapt to and grow in your environment. Otherwise, there are multiple herb shops online that you can order dried leaf from. Most large chain grocers don't carry passion fruit, but if you're after the fruit, consider growing your own plant or ordering online (though, I can't promise this is the best idea if you do want the fruit).
When using dry or fresh leaves from the passionflower, you'll want to stick to brewing infusions (tea). Use about a tablespoon of dried leaf for eight ounces of boiled water. Let this steep for a few minutes. If you use fresh leaf, you'll want to use a bit more, but start with less and work up to more. Again, steep the leaf in boiled water for a few minutes. Adjust the steeping time accordingly with fresh leaves.
When using passionflower medicinally, it is important to remember to check with your physician to make sure it won't interact negatively if you're on any prescription medications—especially for sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions.
When using passionflower to ease nervous conditions, you can expect to experience relief for some of these conditions:
nervousness (i.e., anxiety, panic disorders, trouble with relaxation, etc.)
insomnia (i.e., mild to severe sleep inturruption, full-blown insomnia, restless sleep, lack of sleep for longer than a day or two, trouble falling asleep)
depression (i.e., mild to severe depression, feelings of sadness, grief, loss, negative mood swings—if you're currently taking an antidepressant, check with your doctor to see if passionflower is a viable option for you, and how it would react with your current medications)
epilepsy (passionflower has been shown to reduce epileptic seizures, improve brain function, and a load of other healthful benefits)