The passion vine, which produces sweet, tropical, antioxidant-rich passion fruit, also boasts flowers with their own specific medicinal qualities. Prized for centuries as a natural sedative that can treat anxiety disorders and insomnia, the passion flower, or passiflora, contains compounds that may benefit your heart and liver. Passion flower may also help reduce unpleasant nicotine withdrawal symptoms for people who are quitting smoking.
Passion flower is an effective treatment for anxiety, according to authors of a review paper published in "Nutrition Journal" in 2010. They cited one study in which researchers found passion flower to be just as effective as the prescription drug, oxazepam, for treating chronic anxiety symptoms. Although the oxazepam users reported earlier relief, they experienced more severe cognitive side effects than the passion flower group. In all three of the studies the authors reviewed -- two using only passion flower and one using a combination of herbs -- passion flower effectively treated anxiety symptoms.
If you're trying to quit smoking, passion flower may offer a natural way to curb your cravings for nicotine, according to researchers who published a study in "Pharmaceutical Biology" in 2012. They tested passion flower extract's ability to reduce signs of nicotine sensitization, or withdrawal symptoms, on rats and found that the extract significantly reduced these symptoms. The researchers called for further studies to determine how passion flower extract may be used in smoking-cessation treatment programs.
Heart and Liver Health
The leaves of the passion flower contain antioxidant compounds that offer heart and liver benefits, according to a group of Brazilian researchers who published a study in "Food and Chemical Toxicology" in 2006. They gave rats a daily dose of passion flower leaf extract, mixed in vegetable oil, for 30 days. At the end of the study, they found significant improvements in the rats' liver and heart function, compared to rats that didn't take passion flower leaf extract.
If you're on any medications, talk to your health care provider before taking passion flower. Because this herb acts as a sedative, it can impair your cognitive function and make driving or operating heavy machinery more dangerous. It may also interact with some medications. Don't use it with sleep aids or other sedatives, as it can intensify their effectiveness. Passion flower is a blood thinner, so taking it with other blood-thinning medications could cause abnormal bleeding. Passion flower can also increase the effects of some antidepressants.
- Nutrition Journal: Nutritional and Herbal Supplements for Anxiety and Anxiety-Related Disorders -- Systematic Review
- Food and Chemical Toxicology: Protective Effects of Passiflora Alata Extract Pretreatment on Carbon Tetrachloride Induced Oxidative Damage in Rats
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Passionflower
- Pharmaceutical Biology: Passion Flower Extract Antagonizes the Expression of Nicotine Locomotor Sensitization in Rats
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