There are more than 400 varieties of passionflower in the world. That is an extraordinary amount of diversity for a plant. There are few flowers as striking as the vibrant passionflower. Even just looking at the flower helps pull you out of your daily hustle and bustle and calm the mind. The passionflower is well-known for its ability to help calm the nervous system and is used in many different medical traditions as a treatment for psychological and neurological conditions.
Many religious and spiritual traditions believe the passionflower has a sacred form. The Spanish named the plant a “passionflower” when they came to the Americas based on their spiritual view of the flower. The Spanish saw each portion of the flower as a symbol of Christ’s crucifixion and named it after the “passion” of Christ.
In India, the passionflower is believed to represent the great Sanskrit epic, the “Mahabharata.” In parts of the country, the flower is called Krishnakamala, after Krishna, the divine hero of this ancient story. Lord Krishna is seen as the center of the flower, while his followers and adversaries are represented by the flower’s other parts.
The passionflower has a consecrated place in many world religions. The spiritual symbolism of the flower is connected to its medicinal uses. The passionflower is believed to help alleviate the worries and anxiety of people who use it. In Ayurveda, it is used to treat many conditions in the nervous system.
The leaves, stem and flowers of this plant have been used as a natural sedative for many years in Native American medicine, particularly in Central and South America. The Aztecs used the passionflower as a pain reliever and to treat anxiety, insomnia and hysteria.
Passionflower is believed to work by helping to calm the nervous system. When the nervous system is overstimulated, it may result in symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain. The nervous system is the command center that coordinates the function of other organs in the body. When this highly complex system gets overworked, it causes havoc throughout the body.
There are two specific compounds in the passionflower that give it its potent effect on the nervous system. The first are the beta-carboline alkaloids, which may behave like MAO inhibitors. MAO inhibitors are modern medications used to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. The second compound is chrysin. Research has shown chrysin to be effective in helping to relieve anxiety.
The passionflower helps to gently relax the nervous system back into a state of balance without resulting in tolerance or addiction. Benzodiazepines are a class of sedatives that are used for similar conditions, but they have a high incidence of tolerance following long-term use as well as a risk of addiction. Passionflower has been shown to have similar effects as benzodiazepines but without the same risks. Passionflower has also been used to help drug addicts who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Passionflower can be found as a tea, in tablet form or as a liquid extract. It is best to talk to your doctor about the recommended dose depending on what it is being used to treat and what medications you currently take. And because it may possibly stimulate contraction of the uterus, it should be avoided during pregnancy. With the help of your physician, you may use passionflower to help keep you calm and well-rested, naturally.