Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) : side effects

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a medicinal plant belonging to the Passifloraceae family. Native to the tropical and subtropical areas of Central and South America. Today it is known for its calming action, and is in fact used for disorders of the nervous sphere. Let’s find out the characteristics and side effects of passionflower.

Passionflower: characteristics and properties

Passionflower is a perennial herbaceous plant with climbing shrubs. The stem is branched and thin, the leaves are alternate and lanceolate, the flowers are hermaphroditic, with bracts of various shapes, 5 sepals, 5 petals and a crown of filaments.

The fruits are ovoid berries with an internal gelatinous pulp rich in small flattened seeds. 

Passionflower is rich in alkaloids, flavonoids, phytosterols, phenol acids, coumarins, heterosides, cyanogens, traces of essential oil. It acts on the central nervous system by carrying out a calming, sedative and anxiolytic action.

Passionflower, therefore, is useful in cases of insomnia, stress, a sense of anguish, neurosis, menopausal disorders, depression and tachycardia.

Furthermore, the presence of armanic alkaloids gives it an antispasmodic action, which leads to the relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue of the uterus, the gastrointestinal and bronchial systems.

The side effects of Passionflower

Passionflower should not be taken concomitantly with other anxiolytic drugs as it could enhance their effects, leading to: 

  • nausea, 
  • He retched,
  • tachycardia, hyper arousal and hallucinations (paradoxical effect). 

Furthermore, the use of passionflower is not recommended in case of pregnancy as it contains harmalines with an oxytocin effect, which can cause preterm contraction. 

Given its calming action, which can induce drowsiness, passionflower should not be taken when driving or carrying out dangerous jobs, as it could alter the alertness of reflexes.

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