Nourishing Your Nerves: Passionflower
Yes, the alien-looking flower above this article is indeed a passionflower and despite it's exotic appearance, it is actually native to the southeastern United States. In fact, passiflora incarnata has been Tennessee's state wildflower since 1919. This magical vine not only harbors medicine in its leaves and flowers but also produces delicious little orange, yellow fruits, sometimes referred to as maypops. Although there are several passionflower varieties, passiflora incarnata is the variety most often found wild in this region and is also the variety known for its incredible medicinal properties. It usually blooms and fruits in July, so get on your plant-hunting hat and see if you can find our state wildflower out and about this month.
Passionflower Passiflora incarnata
Parts used: Leaves and flowers
Medicinal properties: Passionflower has a long history of use as medicine in its other native home of South America. First and foremost, passionflower is an incredible nervous system sedative. It's primarily used to treat insomnia(especially of the mind-racing variety), anxiety, and panic attacks. Passionflower is also a hypotensive (lowers blood pressure) and acts as an antispasmodic, making it useful for cramps and spastic or convulsive muscles. In South America, it is used to treat epilepsy. It can also be part of protocol for treating Parkinson's disease. Passionflower also has anti-inflammatory and pain-alleviating properties and can be used for toothaches, headaches, and menstrual pain. Generally, I recommend this herb for folks who struggle with insomnia and anxiety brought on by stress and an overactive brain at nighttime. Passionflower is an effective but gentle herb, making it safe for children.
Dosage: Tincture dosage for adults is 1-3 ml (30-90 drops or 1/4-3/4 tsp) taken once in the evening for insomnia or 2x/day for other conditions. To make a tea, pour 1 c boiling water over 1 tsp of dried herb and infuse for 15 minutes. As with the tincture, drink one cup before bed or 2 cups throughout the day.
Passionflower Fruits or Maypops
This is a picture of passionflower fruits, also none as maypops. The fruit is green when immature but turns a yellowish orange color when ripe. To eat, tear open the skin and scoop out the delicious pulp and seeds to eat and enjoy!