Passiflora incarnata Linn

Family ► Passifloraceae.

Habitat ► Native of South-east America; grown in Indian gardens.

English ► Wild Passion Flower, Maypop.

Action ► Flowering and fruiting dried herb—mild sedative, hypnotic, tranquilizer, hypotensive, vasodilator, antispasmodic, anodyne, anti-inflammatory,

Key application ► In nervous restlessness, irritability and difficulty in falling asleep. (German Commission E, ESCOP, The British Herbal Compendium, The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, WHO.) The British Herbal Compendium also indicated it in neuralgia, dysmenorrhoea, and nervous tachycardia.

The herb contains flavonoids (up to 2.5%), in particular C-glycosylflavones; cyanogenic glycoside, gynocardine.

The alkaloid harman has been isolated, but the presence of harmine, har-maline, harmol and harmalol has been disputed. The alkaloid and flavonoids are reported to have sedative activity in animals. Apigenin exhibits antispas-modic and anti-inflammatory activity.

Passion Flower was formerly approved as an OTC sedative in the USA, but it was taken off the market in 1978 because safety and effectiveness had not been proven. An animal study in 1977 suggested that apigenin binds to central benzodi-zepine receptors (possibly causing anxiolytic effects). (Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2007.)

The drug is used in homoeopathic medicine for epilepsy.

The herb exhibits a motility-inhi-biting effect in animal experiments.

Passion Flower, used as an adjunct to clonidine, was superior to clonidine for mental symptoms of opiate withdrawal. (Sharon M. Herr.)

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