Passion flower, or Passiflora incarnata, is similar to valerian root in its ability to calm the nerves and treat insomnia. The plant has very few reported side effects, and it's capable of being combined with many other herbs to enhance its medicinal benefit. Passion flower tea is the most common form used for healing purposes.
The passion flower is a vine about 25 feet long that climbs along the ground. It has intricate flowers and flowing, crimped petals. It has a fruit that develops in 2 to 3 months after flowering. It can be harvested anytime between July to October. When the fruit is crushed, it makes a loud pop, which is where the name "maypop" for the fruit comes from.
Passion flower was originally used in South America for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, seizures and hysteria. It originates from the legend of a Jesuit priest who came upon the plant and was obsessed by its beauty. While sleeping, he had a vision that attached the parts of the flower to the crucifixion of the Christ. Each of the five petals and five sepals represented the 10 apostles, the three pistils represented the nails on the cross, the purple corona was the crown of thorns and the stemmed ovary shape was the Lord's goblet in the dream.
Passion flower is often used to decorate the sides of walls, fences, arbors and other natural settings. The fruit's sweet flavour makes it excellent for jam or jelly. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked. Flowers from the plant are often made into syrups or cooked with other vegetables, and the leaves and stems are purportedly useful for treating nervous tension, irritability, insomnia and premenstrual tension, although there is no clinical evidence supporting its therapeutic use in humans.
It is possible for passion flower to interact with sedative drugs such as Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta, Valium, Xanax, Dilantin, Rozerem, Sinequon, Pamelor and Elavil. Caution should be taken if mixing passion flower with any of those drugs. Passion flower may also increase the time it takes for blood to clot. It cause sleepiness, as well. Passion flower is considered a largely safe herb with few side effects.
There is no recommended dosage for children because the effects are unknown for young kids. In South America, it has historically been used to treat depression, insomnia, seizures, hysteria and anxiety as a tea. It is also used as a calming herb. Tea is made by mixing a teaspoon of dried herb into each cup of boiling water, and letting it steep for at least 10 minutes. The tea is then strained and cooled. Oral extracts of the herb can be taken up to three times each day.