Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Passionate for Passion Flower

Life has a way of sneaking up on you, upsetting your calm, and nudging you off-center; at least it does me. Like lots of folks these days, I have a lot going on: the process of building and running my own business, maintaining and running two websites and a blog, managing my partner's business, raising an active toddler, keeping up with a cat, a dog, and three kittens who alternately adore and hate each other, missing and wondering when my five estranged children will decide that enough is enough and finally get in touch with me, the on-going process of studying and learning my craft; it isn't surprising that I sometimes gaze towards the heavens and wonder, "How much else?" Though, most days, I'm more of a "Bring it on!" type of gal.

By far, my Passion flower gets more camera time than any other plant that I grow. Who can resist?!
Still, at those times when I need some extra support, I usually take a walk to my herb closet and stand quietly to see what will speak to me. There are several herbs that can help one regain their calm during a stormy day, settle a brain that's going off in every zany direction it can, or even when going through extended periods of difficulty, but my "go-to" best friend for these things is Passion flower.

I already knew that Dr. Andrew Weil recommended Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) for helping to manage stress but I recently came across a video and an article of Dr. Oz (famed guest speaker on Oprah) talking about how Passion flower can be helpful in coping with stress - particularly for women who, for whatever reason, engage in several unending processes at once then have trouble getting the "monkey-mind" to quiet down so that they can get a restful night of sleep. Know anyone like that?

Let's talk a little bit about how Passion flower has traditionally been used. These beautiful flowers were cultivated by Native Americans in the Southern United States, like so many of our plant medicines, both for their edible fruit as well as its medicinal uses. In the nineteenth Century, Passion flower was a popular treatment for insomnia and was used as a pain reliever. Europeans learned about Passion flower from the Aztecs of Mexico, where it was used as a sedative to treat insomnia and nervousness. The plant was taken to Europe where it is now widely cultivated and used in herbal medicine (as a tea or as capsules), often in combination with valerian root and lemon balm. There appears to be a synergy between the components in this mixture. This herbal preparation is a particularly useful treatment for when you're feeling tense, restless, anxious, and irritable, and it provides mild sedation without any addictive properties. It even graciously gifts you with an uplifting boost if you've got mild to moderate depression and can ease minor head and body aches.

What makes it work? Passion flower contains the flavone chrysin, which has wonderful anti-anxiety benefits and has been shown to work similarly to the pharmaceutical Xanax. It works by nourishing and calming the nervous system. Passion flower bestows quiet and stillness in a world that can often seem overwhelmingly chaotic. So, is it safe to use? Excellent question! Passion flower maintains an outstanding safety profile when it is used as recommended by an experienced herbalist. In the United States, Passion flower is classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. (Substances that receive a GRAS classification have maintained a long, safe history of common use in foods or have been determined to be safe based on proven scientific research.)  Preparation is easy: Simply infuse 1 tablespoon of dried herb in 1 cup boiling water. Cover and allow to infuse for 15 - 20 minutes.

With all of this information under your belt, perhaps the next time your doctor brings up Ambian or Lunesta to help you sleep, or Xanax for your mild anxiety, why not ask him if he would be open to a more natural alternative? Passion flower might be just the thing you need to help that monkey mind stop its chattering and allow you to achieve a modicum of your former equilibrium.


  1. Hey Beautiful Lady! I have bestowed upon you a new and exciting award. Please drop by Aoibheal's Lair to check it out.

  2. Hi! :D I just wanted to completement your blog. I really liked it and I added you to my "Recommended blogs" list so I hope you don't mind. Wonderful to see someone putting so much effort into something like you are :) keep up the great work! :D

    Witch's Cat

  3. Thank you so much, Witch's Cat! I really appreciate the feedback. :)

    Blessings of Light & Shadow,

  4. If it’s just a mild anxiety, then there couldn’t be a better option than going for a natural alternative. Needless to say, it’s not healthy to get totally dependent of chemically-processed meds. You’re clearly passionate on Passion flower being a natural alternative, why don’t you consider having your Passion flower herbal business? Richard at Vista Color®