Plants in the genus Passiflora, the scientific term for passionflower, have traditionally been consumed as treatments for many conditions, such as the relief of anxiety. Some of these remedies have scientific research backing them, although not necessarily research that is conclusive. Other remedy effects attributed to Passiflora are possibly placebo effects.
Anxiety is a series of psychological and physiological reactions to stress. More serious forms of anxiety include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobias. Scientists are unsure whether passiflora can treat anxiety. Proponents say passiflora creates a calming effect that counteracts anxiety. Passiflora might be combined with valerian or lemon balm in order to strengthen the calming effect. But any calming effect that does occur might only be attributable to the valerian or lemon balm, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Insomnia is the inability to sleep over the course of several days. Alternative health advocates say that passiflora’s calming effect also can remedy insomnia. However, as in the treatment of anxiety, any anti-insomnia effects might be caused by the valerian or lemon balm that is often combined with the passiflora, according to the UMMC. Some research has found that passiflora has sedative effects on mice.
Snake bites can cause death by destroying tissue, affecting the nervous system with neurotoxins, damaging the heart and causing internal bleeding. Passiflora has been used as a traditional remedy for snakebites and is thought to reduce the blood clotting that can lead to hemorrhaging. Research published in the Journal of Ethnophannacology found that passiflora reduced blood clotting in mice by 25 percent.
The chrysin found in passiflora has been found by medical researchers to inhibit breast, thyroid and prostate cancer. Research published in the Journal Breast Cancer Research Treatments has found that monoterpene compounds in passiflora reduced cancer cells in rat mammary glands. Planta Med research has found that an antibacterial compound in passiflora also damages leukemia cells.
Flavanoids in passiflora have been found to prevent pregnancy, which makes them possible birth control methods, according to the Journal of Fitotreapia.
Research published in the Journal of Laboratory Clinical Medicine found that the maltol found in passiflora can prevent neurodegenerative disorders. These disorders can cause problems with balance, movement, talking, breathing and heart function.