Barbara Roberts, Homeopath

Passiflora Incarnata

I have these beautiful flowers in my garden right now, so must be time for a Passiflora post.

Passiflora incarnata is the Purple Passionflower. There are over 500 types of passionflower, many are vines but some are shrubs or trees. This one is the NZ garden variety passion fruit vine, so may be a slightly different species.

Homeopathically, Passiflora is not widely used, and when given is prescribed in the “mother tincture”, so is actually herbal with a physical effect. When I did some research I was expecting to see a similar homeopathic profile as its use herbally (see more below), but it has some quite different properties.

Consider that its use homeopathically dates to a time before antibiotics, vaccination and immunoglobulin injections, a time when horses were the main mode of transport, and wound hygiene was often not good. Passiflora in the old books is suggested for tetanus with convulsions, especially for tetanus in horses that was otherwise fatal.

It is also mentioned for convulsions, neuralgia and headaches, and case reports for delirium as well.

Headaches are described as a violent aching, a feeling like the top of the head would come off or the eyes be pushed out.

The stomach may have a heavy feeling and there may be sour burps or farting.

Passiflora, today, is known well herbally as an anxiolytic and sedative.

There is some research that suggests Passiflora May be as effective as prescription medicines for general anxiety and anxiety before an operation.

There is also research into its use in

• ADHD- for children aged 8-13 showing it was comparable with methylphenidate (Ritalin).

• Heart failure- in combination with Hawthorn it had a minor increase in exercise ability

• Sleep- often used in combination in sleep supplements, but can be beneficial on its own for primary insomnia

• Opoiod withdrawal- used to help with the anxiety effects in combination with drugs.

Other varieties of passiflora are being investigated for use with stomach ulcers after showing efficacy in a rat model.

Cautions with passiflora herbally –

It is probably safe for children, but should not be taken by pregnant women as some of the active ingredients may cause uterine contraction. I have found no data on use in breastfeeding but it may be passed through breastmilk to the infant, and should therefore be avoided.

If using within a week or two prior to surgery discuss with your surgeon as it may affect anaesthesia.

Also, if you are taking any drugs that have a sedative effect, including medicines for anxiety, depression or sleep discuss this with you Pharmacist as they may interact.

Side effects from Passiflora herbally May include drowsiness, dizziness and confusion.

If you are wanting to use Passiflora as a herbal tincture or supplement for any of the above conditions I recommend getting in touch with a Naturopath or Medical Herbalist who will be able to advise you on dosage and frequency. And if you are on prescribed medication make sure you mention it to your Doctor and Pharmacist so they are aware also.

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