Passion Flower by Sarah Alley, CNP
Passion flower, or Passiflora incarnata, is an over-the-counter, herbal supplement that can be helpful for both anxiety and difficulty sleeping (insomnia). Passion flower is a climbing shrub, native to various regions of the United States, which produces a beautiful purple and white flower.
The entire plant is used to make an extract, which is then made into a tincture (liquid), capsule (pill), or herbal tea, all of which are forms that can be taken orally. Passion flower extract can be taken to help decrease both acute and chronic anxiety, as well as help with the initiation and maintenance of sleep.
Initial clinical trials have shown that passion flower has similar benefit to prescription anxiety medications, benzodiazepines; as well as some prescription medications for the treatment of insomnia. Numerous pharmacological effects of Passiflora incarnata are mediated via modulation of the GABA system. GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain which helps to decrease anxiety and relax, or slow down, brain activity in some areas of the brain.
Although the active ingredients of passion flower have not been conclusively delineated, most available data suggests flavonoids and GABA account for it's reported effects.
Passion flower extract is classified as "generally regarded as safe" (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, as with any new supplement or medication, talk with your prescribing clinician before adding something new to your medication regimen.
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