To Spanish missionaries in South America, the structure of this strikingly attractive flower represented the Passion of Christ: the three stigmas symbolise the nails, the fringe the crown of thorns, the five stamens the wounds, and the petals the Apostles!
Medicinally, passion flower should not be confused with our commonly grown edible passionfruit vines (Passiflora edulis). The aerial parts of passion flower have traditionally been prescribed for restlessness, wakefulness, nervous irritability, especially when resulting from exhaustion or prolonged illness. It is also recommended for irritability with difficulty falling asleep.
Pharmacologic research is centred on the anxiolytic and sedative activity of passion flower which in one study was shown to be comparable with Meprobamate and higher than that of Diazepam (and without the side effects!).
Passion flower also has spasmolytic properties meaning that it reduces or relieves smooth muscle spasm which can be helpful in conditions such as dysmenorrhea, asthma, whooping cough and epilepsy. It may also be helpful in nervous headache and neuralgic pain.
Passion flower is a key ingredient of my sleep enhancing tea along with Lavandula officinalis and Chamomilla recutita.
If you suffer from any of these conditions, please contact me.