Randy Buresh (Registered Nurse and Herbalist), is the co-owner and founder of Oregon’s Wild Harvest. Oregon’s Wild Harvest grows, harvests and produces their own medicinal herbal products, many of which use the herbs grown on their certified Biodynamic® and Organic farm in Sandy, Oregon. www.oregonswildharvest.com
Passionflower is an herb whose uses have little to do with its name. Rather than inducing feelings of passion, this herb is much more likely to make you calm, relaxed, and even sleepy. Passionflower gets its name from the beautiful flowers' radial filiments, which Christian missionaries likened to the crown of thorns used in Christ's crucifixion.
Passionflower's name derives from Christian symbolism.
Photo by Randy Buresh
Known for its fragrance and unique colorful flowers, passionflower was traditionally used as a calming herb. Today, the properties in passionflower still make it useful as a soothing sleep-aid and in supporting relaxation in times of stress. Scientists believe that passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA reduces the activity of some brain cells, inducing a greater state of relaxation. Passionflower is often combined with other herbs used for relaxation such asvalerian, lemon balm, skullcap, or kava. Some people apply a poultice of the root of passion flower to the skin for use as a topical remedy for healing of the skin.
Since passionflower is a nervine, meaning that it has an effect on the nervous system, it can intensify the effects of prescription sedatives. The two should not be taken simultaneously.
Nervines like passionflower are considered complementary herbs to use along with adaptogens, like ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a unique herb in that it can have a very calming effect, but it can also energize a person when needed—the best of both worlds, all in one little herb.
Herbs like passionflower, ashwagandha, skullcap and kava are able to help with stress because they improve the body’s physiological response to stress, which decreases the demand placed on the adrenal glands and helps to lower cortisol levels. Lower cortisol levels help to improve sleep patterns and health in general. The roles that stress and the systems of the body play in your health are interrelated.
It’s an herb with a story—and a long history. An herb to remember when the stress of the season keeps you from enjoying it, or from sleeping as well as you’d like. We can’t eliminate stress from our lives, but we can help our bodies better adapt to stress by using the many herbs available to do just that. So get passionate about your health; add a little passionflower!
*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. It is also recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications.