Passion flower(Krishna Kamal) is cultivated for its impressive white-blue-purple flowers, edible fruits and medicinal uses. This herb named so as the corona resembles the crown of thorns worn by Christ during the crucifixion. The fruits of plant are berries and contain considerable amount of lycopene. They are eaten fresh and used in juice drinks, beverages, baked goods, cereals, yogurt, ice cream, candy, jams, and jellies.
Passion flower is a beautiful ornamental plant with medicinal properties. For medicinal purpose whole plant either dried or fresh is used. The plant was initially used by Native Americans as a tonic, relaxant and tranquilizer. Later it reached Europe and now it is listed in the pharmacopoeias of Great Britain, United States, India, France, Germany, Switzerland and others. This herb is particularly beneficial in management of disorders related to brain.
Passion flower has sedative, calming and hypnotic effects and therefore used for anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is useful in management of mental symptoms due to withdrawal of nicotine, opiates, cannabis or alcohol. Intake of herb has anti-spasmodic activity and relaxes involuntary muscles. Internal administration of aerial parts of plant exhibits beneficial effects in neuralgia, seizures, menopause, diabetes, piles, whooping cough, bronchitis, and asthma. Passion flower lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
In Ayurveda, the leaves of herb are used for diabetes. Few studies done using rats confirm hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. Its intake improves glucose tolerance and lipid profile and helps in regeneration of pancreatic islets of Langerhans. The plant promotes relaxation and helps with insomnia, agitation, anxiety, nervousness and stress. The roots are used in form of infusion to treat boils, inflammation, and to cure liver problems. In homeopathy, it is used for insomnia, convulsions and agitation. As it is anodyne, it helps in muscle, menstrual and leg pain. Passion flower is useful in tension headaches, migraines, and tooth aches.
The spasmolytic action of Passion flower helps in asthma, shortness of breath and bronchial constriction. The best thing about this herb is that it is safe, non-addictive and mild in action. It is available in Homeopathy as mother tincture and tablets.
Topically, Passion flower is applied as compress on skin irritations, hemorrhoids, burns, bruises, and inflammation.
Passiflora incarnata is an herbaceous perennial vine with strong, woody stem reaching up to about 10 m in length. It climbs with the support of tendrils. The shoots die in autumn and new shoots grow each spring from buds on rhizomes and roots.
The leaves are alternate, serrate and very finely pubescent. They are moderately to deeply three-lobed, and are 6-15 cm long along the mid vein. The undersurface is hairier than the upper surface. There are bumpy extra-floral nectaries on the leaf blades. Stipules and tendrils grow from the leaf axils.
Floral buds are 2-3cm long before opening. Open flowers are up to 9 cm wide and have the complex floral structure. The sepals and petals are white to purple. The prominent corona or crown consists of five or six series of thin and flexible appendages. The outer two filaments are 10-20 mm long, colored white, pink, purple, and variously banded. The remaining series of corona filaments are much shorter.
The fruits are berries, oval in shape, and up to 7 cm long.
It should be noted plant Passiflora edulis Sims is the source of the edible passion fruit.
Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Aerial parts, particularly leaves
Plant type / Growth Habit: Herb
Distribution: Indigenous to an area from the south east U.S. to Argentina and Brazil. It is cultivated in Europe as a garden plant.
Native: indigenous to warm temperate and tropical North America.
History: This plant has long been used by indigenous peoples in Central and North America for its valuable sedative and tranquilizing properties.
Propagation: Stem cutting, rhizomes
Requirement for growth: Direct sun to light shade, well drained sandy-clay loam soil with pH of 6.1 to 7.8
Flowering: Spring to summer
Fruiting: Summer to autumn
- Anxiety, epilepsy, insomnia, neuralgia, nervousness, hysteria
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD
- Alcoholism, asthma
- Burns, hemorrhoids, Premenstrual syndrome/Dysmenorrhea
- Eye tension, headaches, menopausal symptoms
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD
- High blood pressure, fast heart rate, palpitation, Arrhythmia
- Low libido
- Pre surgical anxiety
- Seizure disorder
- Symptoms of opiate withdrawal
- Spasmodic disorders, muscle spasms, diarrhea, pain
- Whooping cough
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Scientific name: Passiflora incarnata
- English: Wild Passionflower, Maypop, Apricot Vine, Old Field Apricot, Holy-Trinity Flower, Mayapple, Molly-Pop, Passion Vine, Pop-Apple, Granadilla, Maycock, Maracoc, Maracock, White Sarsaparilla
- Hindi, Bengali: Ghari Bel, Jhumaka Lata
- Marathi: Krishna Kamal
- Manipuri: Radhika nachom
- Kannada: Kukki Beli
- Malayalam: Cirran Cantia
- Tamil: Sirupoonaikali
- Telugu: Tella Jumiki
The botanical name of Passion flower is Passiflora incarnata. It belongs to plant family Passifloraceae and Genus Passiflora. There are about 400 known species of Passiflora, and most are native to North, Central, and South America and grows along hedgerows, on the edges of woods, in thickets and over open ground.
Passiflora flowers have unique appearance.
In the sixteenth century, early Spanish explorers were astounded by the beauty of the exotic climbing vine that resembled elements of the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and named it Passion Flower in honor of the agonies of Christ.
Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta
- Division: Magnoliophyta
- Class: Magnoliopsida
- Subclass: Dilleniidae
- Order: Violales
- Family: Passifloraceae
- Genus: Passiflora L. Passionflower
- Species: Passiflora incarnata L. – Purple Passionflower
Constituents of Passiflora incarnata
Passionflower mainly contains alkaloids, flavonoids and related compounds.
Alkaloids: Indole alkaloids of the b-carboline type, harman, harmol, harmine, harmalol and harmaline.
Harmine is a strong inhibitors of monoamine oxidase which metabolises catecholamine neurotransmitters. It improves insulin sensitivity, and has a vasorelaxant effect and an antidepressant effect. Harman has mild monoamine oxidase A inhibitory and vasorelaxant activity. It inhibits HIV replication effects.
Flavonoids (upto 2.5%): Vitexin, aglycones apigenin, chrysin (5,7- hydroxyflavone), luteolin, quercetin and kaempferol. C-glycosides of apigenin and of luteolin and related flavonoids.
Other constituents: Cyanogenic glycoside gynocardin, gbenzopyrones maltol and ethylmaltol, polyacetylene passicol, essential oil, amino acids, fatty acids, sugars etc.
Cyanogenic glycosides: gynocardine (less than 0.1%)
Important Medicinal Properties
Passiflora incarnata is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example, the aerial parts are hypotensive and lowers blood pressure and therefore the use of herb should be avoided in hypotension. Also it must not be taken in excess due to sedative and tranquilizing action.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Anti-addictive: Used to prevent or treat addiction, stops chemical reactions that cause nausea and vomiting because of withdrawal from cocaine, heroin or opiate painkillers.
- Antiasthmatic: Treat or prevent asthma attacks.
- Anticonvulsant: Prevent or reduce the severity of epileptic fits or other convulsions.
- Antidepressant: Used to alleviate depression.
- Antidiabetic: Control blood glucose levels amongst people with diabetes.
- Antiepileptic: Significantly reduces the severity of seizures.
- Anti-inflammatory: Reduces inflammation.
- Antitussive: Used to prevent or relieve a cough.
- Anxiolytic: help to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
- Anodyne: Pain killer, used to relieve headache and nerve pain, the pain of shingles and dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation).
- Aphrodisiac: stimulates sexual desire, as it conatins chrysin, which helps the body to conserve testosterone.
- Hypoglycemic: Lowers blood sugar level.
- Hypolipidemic: Lowers lipid level.
- Hypotensive: lowers blood pressure relieve hypertension and relaxes the walls of the arteries.
- Sedative: Promoting calm or inducing sleep.
- Tranquilizer: Reduce tension or anxiety.
- Vasodilator: Widen/dilates blood vessels.
Medicinal Uses of Passiflora incarnata
Passion flower has sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic and anodyne properties. It is used traditionally for nerve pain, generalized seizures, hysteria, nervous tachycardia and spasmodic asthma. It has also been used to treat diarrhea, dysentery and dysmenorrhea by acting on the nervous system.
The Native Americans used this herb as tonic and remedy for insomnia, hysteria and convulsions in children. The Houma tribe added it to drinking water as a tonic. The poultice of plant applied externally for healing bruises and fruit juice for sore and tired eyes. Internally, the tea used to sooth the nerves, to ease tension, restlessness, irritability and mild insomnia. In Italy, Passion Flower is used to treat hyperactive children.
- It is a very gentle non-addictive sedative with depressant action on the central nervous system due to presence of alkaloids and flavonoids. It promotes restful, sound sleep, particularly in cases of nervous insomnia.
- It is effective remedy for nervous, menopausal and premenstrual tension, irritability, and fatigue and tension headaches.
- It is a popular herb for anxiety and is most often prescribed in combination with other herbs such as valerian, lemon balm and St John’s wort. At least three clinical trials have confirmed the efficacy of passionflower treatment for symptoms of anxiety.
- The German Commission E approved internal use for nervous restlessness.
- Given 30 minutes before surgery, it appears to reduce nervousness.
- For headache, the tea prepared from the leaves of plant is useful.
- The extract has the potential to ameliorate the signs of nicotine sensitization.
- It is used as a natural source of food flavoring.
- It is hypotensive and stimulates respiration.
- It is beneficial for restless leg syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and irritable bowel syndrome.
Dosage of Passiflora incarnata
Passiflora incarnata is available as a liquid extract, tablets (425mg of dried extract), tea (dried coarse powder), and tincture. Any of the preparation can be taken for anxiety, tenseness, restlessness and irritability with difficulty falling asleep, mild symptoms of mental stress, pain etc.
- Traditionally, the recommended dosage is 4–6 g herb daily. The flowers can be taken in dose of 1–2 tablespoon per day.
- The tablet (425mg of dried extract) is taken in dose of one tablet/day for symptoms associated with stress such as mild anxiety. Tablets should be swallowed whole with a little liquid. The tablets should not be chewed.
- For insomnia, disturbed sleep from mental worry and exhaustion resulting from excitement or circular thinking passionflower tea or tincture is useful.
- For preparing the tea, 1 teaspoons of the herb is boiled in one cup water and steeped for 5 to 10 minutes. This is filtered and taken lukewarm. It should be drank 2 to 3 times throughout the day and one-half hour before bedtime.
- In Homeopathy, the tincture is prepared by chopping and steeping the fresh or dried leaves in alcohol. Internally 1–4mL of tincture (1: 8) can be taken three to four times daily. The classic symptom for Passiflora Remedy is sleeplessness or insomnia. This remedy is helpful in whooping cough (worse at night), and insomnia accompanied by hemorrhoids, pain in the coccyx, or discomfort during or just before menstruation.
- For stress, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, and nervous tension 0.5–2 g of dried plant is taken three times daily. 2 g of herb can be taken as an infusion three to four times daily.
- To make an infusion, pour 150 ml of hot water over 1 teaspoon drug and strain after 10 minutes.
- The recommended dose for anxiety is 45 drops (90mg) of Fluid Extract daily. When taken for anxiety, it may take 3–4 weeks before significant effects are seen.
- To make a rinse for the external treatment such as hemorrhoids, put 20 gm drug into 200 ml simmering water, strain and use when cooled.
Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Passiflora incarnata
- It is safe to take this medicine in recommended dosage.
- The use of the plant up to one month is considered safe.
- As the information on the safety and toxicity of plant is limited and therefore higher than recommended dosages and treatment for long periods should be avoided.
- The FDA lists Passiflora incarnata as a safe herbal sedative.
- Hypersensitivity is possible in very rare cases. One case of severe nausea, vomiting, weakness, drowsiness, slower heart rate, and ventricular arrhythmia, after two days self administration of an herbal remedy containing P. incarnata has been reported.
- It has sedative effect and drowsiness is the most common side effect. Other common side effects include dizziness, confusion, and a lack of coordination.
- Since it may cause sleepiness, it should not be used before driving or operating machinery.
- Avoid intake along with other sedative medicines (benzodiazepines) or sedative herbs, CNS depressants or stimulants and other relaxant herbs as it increases their effects.
- It should not be taken with MAO inhibitors.
- Passiflora may induce uterine contraction so its use is contraindicated during pregnancy.
- The use of Passiflora is also highly discouraged in lactating mothers.
- It is hypotensive, sedative and tranquilizing. Children should never be given this herb in any form, and older adults should take low dosages (preferably in consultation with a physician).
- It is suitable for patients above the age of 18.