Passionflower, a long, climbing vine native to North America, was so named by Spanish explorers who saw in the ornate design of its flowers the crown of thorns, nails and other elements of the "passion," or suffering, of Christ. Native Americans in the southeastern United States, particularly the Cherokee, used the pleasant-tasting herb in healing; it soon became popular in Europe, in part for its Christian symbolism. Today, passionflower is thought to have a calming effect on the central nervous system. Modern herbalists recommend it as a sedative, as a digestive aid, and as a pain reliever. Because it dilates blood vessels, it is also being tested as a heart disease preventive.
Over the counter:
Available in commercial homeopathic or herbal remedies and as dried or fresh leaves, capsules and tincture.
Tea: For insomnia, 2 tsp. dried herb per cup of boiling water steeped for 15 minutes.
Tincture: 1 dropperful in warm water, up to four times a day, for anxiety in adults and in children weighing more than 100 pounds. For hyperactivity in smaller children, three to 10 drops (depending on the child's weight and the advice of a trained practitioner) used in water every 30 minutes, not to exceed 50 drops per four-hour period. Given to children only under medical supervision.
Combinations: For insomnia, used with valerian, hops, Jamaican dogwood or chamomile.