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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sow Thistle: Sonchus oleraceus

Sow Thistle, or Sonchus oleraceus,  is a common weed all over Central Texas in the early spring.  It is in the Asteraceae family, related to Dandelion, and Artichoke.  Sonchus is thought of as an "invasive" naturalized weed and likes to take over yards and gardens.

45g Carbohydrate, 28g protein, 22g ash, 5.9g fibre, 4.5g fat; in all, providing 265 calories.
Calcium: 1500 mg
Phosphorus: 500 mg
Iron: 45.6 mg
A: 35 mg
Thiamine (B1): 1.5 mg
Riboflavin (B2): 5 mg
Niacin: 5 mg
C: 60 mg

Artemisia, Mugwort

Artemisia is named for the goddess Artemis protectress of all things wild, of women and was thought to bring things back to health.  She is goddess of the hunt, a virgin, twin sister of the god Apollo.
The genus encompasses many species several of which are found in Texas
Medicinally in general it is a bitter stimulant with particular effects on the uterus. The aromatics kill germs and can al

Monday, June 9, 2014

Texas Gardening: Planning and Preparing Beds

The Wildflower School moved into a wonderfully wild 8.5 acre homestead.  Its taken everything NOT to start building and planting this spring. We are holding back, watching the land, the plants, the critters and getting to know my space.  Texas gardening is tricky and must be done right to not be constantly redoing your work and feeling overwhelmed.  Our homestead has varying soils, but mostly sandy loam.  Gardening isnt about what you plant, its about the environment you create to plant in.  In other words, here is the BEFORE blog post.  Stay tuned to see how we use various techniques to create beautiful gardens.  The steps I have taken to prepare to plant in Bastrop County, Texas are:

1) sit and watch the land 
The way the light moves across the space.  The way the water moves with rainstorms and where it runs off.  The way the critters move.  What critters I see and when I see them--insects, and animals

2) assess the soil and amend
The soil is gritty, easy to dig with a layer of red and yellow clays about a foot deep where I want to plant.  I plan to add fertility in the form of compost and manure and begin with sheet mulching an area by the wellhouse for our school's learning garden.  Luckily my neighbor with horses has offered manure!

3)plan for protection.
We have lots of burrowers, predation and STRONG SUN to think about.  Since the soil is easy to dig, the larger fenced garden by the well house will have additional buried bricks around the edges to protect from burrowers, and the fence will be 8ft tall to prevent deer from entering. When planning zones, one thing to remember is to make your gardening as easy as possible, therefore my food and culinary herbs will be as close as possible--with overflow in the larger garden further away.  Around the main classroom and teaching space, we will begin with container gardening on the protected back deck, until we have built beds.  I am planning kitchen beds around the front deck so you can walk outside and pick food.  I am also planning some areas in the garden that I can drape shade cloth over easily since we are prone to drought and the sun can actually burn veggies out

4) sketch and resketch
I created initial designs of where things may go, including paths, the orchard, our chickens and soon--bees!
My husband and I will start to envision this and may change our minds a few times, and ask for opinions, etc.
before we begin anything that cant be undone easily

Great resource for sheet mulching:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Vervain Monograph by Student Contributor Meg Houston

Confessions of a Vervain Girl:
Glandularia Bipinnatifida
“We are at home on this planet - we have but to recognise it. From the ills of
humanity through the gift of herbal remedies comes a clue, a signpost, to this reality.
We are part of a wonderfully integrated whole. This is not the stuff of vague idealism
and mysticism but a solid reality.” - David Hoffman
Vervain. The name itself sounds like the beginnings of an ancient spell; some
mystical incantation locked away in a spring storm. The first time I saw her,  the
Enchanter’s Plant, La Herba Sacra, or Glandularia Bipinnatifida, she was sprouting up
in the greenbelt of Austin, Texas like quiltwork patches, her purple flowers quenching
the heat of the day. She radiated a cool, charming, ego-taming love. I gathered her at
sundown and hiked back up, intuitively chewing on her sweet flowers and feeling the
heat of the day leave my body.
While Vervain often feigns coyness, waving in the fields daintily, her history
paints a regal image of purple and blue flowers adorning the heads of young maidens,
and priests in ancient Rome burning her to cleanse the altars of Jupiter. Also called the
Holy Herb, she is known for her powers in the realms of love, protection, purification,
peace, money, youth, sleep and healing (Cunningham 251-252). Interestingly, when
I asked several herbalists about their use of her, they responded with a healthy dose
of diffidence, followed by an outright confession of never having a desire to use her.
“Vervain is one of those plants I’ve never used much,” says herbalist Anne Merrill, “then
this morning I woke up grouchy and out of sorts. Liverish. I decided to give Vervain a
try...nasty tasting stuff. Within twenty minutes the grouchiness was resolved. So I guess
it’s time to try Vervain!”
Vervain is one of many magical herbs that spreads its medicine throughout
multiple body systems. Carrying with it cold, new moon energy, it even speaks the
language of the secret endocrine system. Though not much is known about this
mysterious realm, Kiva Rose, Nicole Telkes and David Hoffmann all note that Vervain
has an equally elusive effect on it. The Spanish even call vervain “el dormil√≥n” or
“sleepy head.” Perhaps she has an effect on the pineal gland which regulates melatonin
and controls other hormone production. This would make sense considering the third
eye clarity that many people experience with Vervain. During a Materia Medica proving
with her, several students also noted a tingling sensation down the throat, indicating the
medicine she offers aids in recovering from colds and flus and has an affinity to the
respiratory system. The New Holistic Herbal recommends Vervain for those healing
from influenza, as it eases the depression that often follows the illness. In addition,
Vervain acts as both an expectorant and a febrifuge, ridding the body of excess mucus
while reducing fever (Hoffman 143-147). Kiva Rose adds that Vervain treats body
aches, irritability and general tension that can accompany an illness and has a
particularly potent diaphoretic effect when paired with elderflower and bee balm. It can
also relieve headaches, and works best in a preparation of tea or tincture (Richo Cech).
Anne Merrill’s language for Vervain indications as “liverish” is fitting if not
intuitive. A hepatic, Vervain strengthens, tones and stimulates the secretive functions of
the liver, increases bile flow and can even help rid the body of excess bile in jaundice
conditions. Folk remedies have used it as a “spring tonic” to cleanse the liver after a
harsh winter’s diet. (Hoffman 52, 61). Vervain’s claim to fame, however, is her ability to
charm and soothe the nervous system. Richo Cech classifies Vervain as a nervine
sedative, while Nicole Telkes notes her ability to treat hypersensitivity. A mild to
moderate relaxant, Vervain elevates mood and feeds nervous tissue (Hoffman 65). In
both alcohol and vinegar preparations, Vervain offers a clue to her powers in her taste;
slightly pungent and bitter, she makes a perfect gut medicine. Paul Bergner calls her a
“digestive bitter” while Richo Cech describes her as an herb to “improve sluggish
digestion,” one that can possibly help to clear out any intestinal parasites. Marika
Alvarado uses Vervain to calm the stomach, especially after birth when a woman’s
uterus is swollen and exhausted. As a patera, Marika uses Vervain as an important
component in an after-birth ritual she performs, adding that she also gives the tea to
women before performing La Sobada massage. The image of Vervain, with it’s purple
flowers opening up from dark centers, seems to beckon to women. Added to a female
tonic, she stimulates and normalizes menses, and calms the feminine center as an
antispasmodic (Hoffman 143). Both David Hoffman and Richo Cech describe Vervain
as an effective galactagogue, increasing milk production in lactating women as well
providing a healthy dose of tranquility to the baby’s mood. Additional uses include
treating hemorrhoids with a Vervain tea sitz bath and using a fresh plant poultice to treat
sore muscles, the pain of rheumatism and to speed up the healing of wounds, burns
and lesions. Paul Bergner has even included Vervain in a heart tonic (that’s one
powerful, multi-useful plant spirit)!
Vervain’s indications (like all plant spirits) create a certain picture of those who
need her medicine the most. Kiva Rose suggests this plant for those who carry tension
in their shoulders and neck. Vervain types are intense, adrenally dominated, driven and
highly critical, or as Michael Moore would say, “metabolically brittle.” He notes that
alcoholism and/or a tendency toward addiction are not uncommon. The New Holistic
Herbal describes the typical Vervain woman (specifically around her mense) as edgy
and anxious, with a personality that fluctuates between increased dissatisfaction and
feelings of being wired. Hot flashes, digestive upset and hypersensitivity are common,
along with intervals of intense binges followed by feelings of deprivation. The Vervain
woman can be critical toward self and, according to Nicole Telkes, adapt a “whiny, poor
me” attitude. With bouts of rage, she can one minute experience a deep craving for
chocolate, the next feel the need to “bathe in blood,” (David Hoffman). Perhaps the
bloody Queen Mary herself was a Vervain girl (a spoonful of psychotherapy also
Spiritually, Vervain is an ego-charmer, cooling down the excitement or arrogance
one can experience following the absorption of new knowledge (Sheri Hupfer). A Bach
flower remedy of Vervain treats “over-enthusiasm, over-effort and straining; fanaticism,”
while Traditional Chinese Medicine uses it as a remedy for yin not holding down yang
(Hoffman 67). Worn on the body, Vervain offers love, protection and a sense of being
grounded, a power attributed to her Earth element (Cunningham 252). Kiva Rose
describes the spiritual properties of vervain as providing a clear path and perspective.
“Vervain is a mender of broken edges,” she eloquently writes, “and sometimes, a great
giver of dreams.”
In preparation, both Richo Cech and David Hoffman recommend using the aerial
portions of vervain in the early flowering stage. All above ground parts can be used
fresh or dried (although Cech prefers a concoction without the stems). To create an
optimal tincture, a fresh plant to solvent ratio should be 1:2 (75A:25W) while the dried
herb should be a ratio of 1:5 (50A:50W) (Cech 233). Hoffman suggests an infusion of
Vervain using 1-3 teaspoons of the plant to a cup of water, two to three cups a day.
Vervain is particularly effective as a bitter, in tea form, taken 15-20 minutes before a
meal (Cech 232). While vervain is typically benign in nature, it is “not to be used during
pregnancy or in the presence of overt liver disease,” (Cech 232).
In our Materia Medica class proving, I found Vervain to be cooling and
moistening. Something about her sweet flowers reminded me of honey, and with a
single sip I felt third eye clarity, an improvement in vision and a tingle down my throat
and spine. Secondary effects upon my physiological being were an intensity of vivid
colors and a release of tension in my neck, yet I still felt myself denying the spiritual
changes. Alas, these are the confessions of a true Vervain girl: the liverish fog soaking
up the days around my menses, the grouchiness that follows, the intense cravings, self-
criticism, feelings of guilt that result in deprivation. I denied myself vervain, although she
was beckoning to me with her medicine, simply because I didn’t want to recognize
those parts of me that yearned for her. With a few drops of her power, the tingle down
my spine allowed all of that intensity to leave my body with a final bow, a relief that
seemed to venerate her magic and embrace her with gratitude. Through my studies
with Vervain, I created an uncanny image that came together like puzzle pieces, but
didn’t quite speak to me wholly until I accidentally thumbed over a passage titled
“Patterns of disease of the nervous system” in the New Holistic Herbal. In the passage,
David Hoffman details a representative list of “a number of conditions [that] have an
especially strong relationship with the nervous system, whilst not producing neurological
symptoms.” This list includes the circulatory system (noting high blood pressure and
coronary disease), the respiratory system, the digestive system, the skin (with a
connection to the liver), the endocrine system and the reproductive system. Every
single indication listed has been mentioned in relation to Vervain. All things in nature
are interrelated, the body is no different. After spending several months with Vervain,
her spirit, the education surrounding her, it is blatantly obvious that whatever effect she
has on the nervous system cascades down to other systems, creating optimal wellness
in the human spirit. She is pure summer magic, growing underneath the rising of the
Dog Star, waiting for a girl like me to pluck her.
Works Cited
Hoffman, David. The New Holistic Herbal. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1990.
Cunningham, Scott. Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn
Publications, 2011. Print.
Cech, Richo. Making Plant Medicine. Williams, OR: Horizon Herbs LLC, 2000. Print.
Paul Bergner. North American Institute of Medical Herbalism.
Kiva Rose. Folk Herbalism.
Contributing Herbalists:
Anne Merrill
Michael Moore
Kiva Rose
Paul Bergner
Nicole Telkes
Marika Alvarado
Sheri Hupfer
Scott Cunningham
David Hoffman
Richo Cech
Works Cited

Evening Primrose Monograph by Student Contributor Millie Lopez


My whole life I've seen evening primrose along the roadsides. Although, I only knew her as a simple wildflower not as  a plant with medicinal properties with the ability to help heal someone. As we would play around outside as kids in my home town in southwest Louisiana we would pick the pink evening primrose flowers and admire the amount of pollen it would produce. We knew them as the buttercups, which I've always thought they were called buttercups because first they were cup shaped and second because they produced so much pollen that they took on a buttery look. They actually and later most odviously got there name from the way the flowers open up in the evening. I noticed this while  growing the Oenothera missourensis myself that I bought from The Natural Gardener. Right before I went to the store in the evening I saw that the little sepals were about to bust open and when I returned after the sun set there was a show of three beautiful yellow flowers. I expected them to open up the next day and did not make the connection until I later read in an article on Henriette's Herbal Homepage that the evening primrose flowers are considered to be nocturnal. 
       In botany terms, as stated in Thomas J. Elpel's book Botany in a Day evening primrose is in a subclass of the the Rose Family and is part of the Onagraceae Family. The Latin name for evening primrose is Oenothera speciosa et ahethe flowers are commonly pink or yellow, regular, bisexual or perfect, with 4 sepals and 4 petals. Whats neat is that, "There are an equal number or twice as many stamens as petals" as Thomas Elpel states. Also, the stigma has as many lobes to carpels in the ovary, which is usually again the number 4. When the ovary matures it forms a capsule of seeds that bust open and spread the seeds surrounding the are. The seeds contain high levels of omegas, which is what evening primrose is popularly known for today. The leaves are long and pinnate, sometimes having ridges on the sides. I've noticed that the leaves of the Texas species have sharp looking ridges on them but the missourensis do not. Also, i've noticed that even though evening primrose is classified as nocturnal on Henriette's Herbal, I've seen them in bloom here in Central Texas during the day also. 
       There are 20 genera and 650 species of Oenothera, 12 genera being in North America according to Thomas Elepl. It was originally only native "to central grasslands from Missouri and Nebraska through Oklahoma and Texas to Northeastern Mexico" as stated in an article from The Lady Bird Johnsons Wildflower Center. The same article also states that Oenothera has buttercup as one of its common names, which is most likely why we know it as that in Louisiana. Other common names are the showy evening primrose, pink ladies and Mexican evening primrose. Another evolving viewpoint that I observed while reading this article is that the pink evening primrose populations in the southern parts of the U.S. actually open there flowers in the morning and close them at night. It would be interesting to look more into the different types of species of Oenothera while keeping this energetic difference in mind.
      During my first few provings with Oenothera I didn't want to have any preconceived ideas of what the plant does in the body before I took it. I started taking it daily, the whole plant in tincture form and noted any changes I felt and if any of the effects were the same overtime. When I took the tincture form my energetics were greatly effected. I instantly felt it in my heart center, warming and comforting me. Over time my energetics slowed down a bit and shifted into a more cooler relaxed state. Although, I still harnessed a noticably warm center, which I almost always equate with comforting feeling and thoughts. This warmth was felt specifically in my core, and to be more specific, in the stomach area and reproductive system. This effect was consistent for a couple of days. In Making Plant Medicine Richo Chech explains that evening primrose "will impart lasting tone to the reproductive organs". I observed noticable energy and movement in that area of the body without a doubt. Also in Henriette"s Herbal and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies they both state that Oenothera has an affinity for regulating PMS discomfort especially those associated with pelvic fullness. Also, that it can be used for body indications of tissue fullness altogether, specifically dirty looking tissue states. Making me want to look further into Oenotheras role in promoting  happy and healthy tissues in the body. A couple of people in class noted that since they have taken the fresh form of a decocted tea of Oenothera there was noticeable change in the softness of there skin. 
     Oenothera is a mucilaginous plant having anti-inflammatory qualities, meaning that evening primrose can be considered both a wet and cool herb for its ability to calm and sooth heated situations in the body. It's been used to heal rashes and wounds, as Ellen Zimmer stated in a question regarding traditional uses of Oenothera. What's awesome is that even though it can cool and heal inflamed tissues and make cells more elastic by juicing them up, it can also move water along. Susan Anderson would best describe the herb as both a cool and dry with great astringent properties. I believe that this can be considered the overall energetic understanding of evening primrose.
    Evening primrose seems to have a great affinity for the tissues and skin. Susan Anderson believes Oenothera has an affinity for the mucous membranes of the GI track along with other systems in the body and I thought it notable that Richo Chech suggested that the best preparation of evening primrose is to take the plant fresh, using the flowers and foliage as salad garnishes as well as the seeds for there high omega content. All of the properties of Oenothera lead me to believe that some of the best preparations for it would be in either a cold oil infusion, a glycerite or as a cold and hott water infusion. The alcohol infusion seems to have more of an affinity for the reproductive organs and digestive system, moving things along and toning them.8 When trying to bring healing to tissues you can only add in that healing process by allowing the already essential nutients in the plant, in this case the essential fatty acids, to be present when using it for healing that specific system in the body.
      I feel we can find great healing with Oenothera using oil infused preparations. The essential oils in it help our cells maintain an overall healthy state and healthy growth. Lisa Ganora states in her book Herbal Constituents that "A balance of many different fatty acids is important for the health maintenance and the prevention of excess inflammation." The specific essential fatty acid found in Oenothera is a polyunsaturated fat called y-Linoleic acid. It seems that since Oenothera is known for it's omegas and observed to be pretty mucilaginous that oil infusions or glycerites would be the most logical form or preparation. 
    Overall to me Oenothera is uplifting to the spirit, toning to the tissues of the body along with being soothing and cooling to mucous membranes, relaxing to the body and mind and also moving to fluids and energetically moving altogether. I actually had a dream about evening primrose the other day. There were zombies all around and I was told to give the people evening primrose to pull them out of there zombie state, helping to balance that specific emotional state within humans. Maybe evening primrose can even help enliven someone who's already naturally melancholic but they are in a state of imbalanced were they are even too slowed mentally or physically for there already slow natural state. Another indication for using evening primrose I feel would be that if there is also a manifestation of stagnation in the body, specifically wet stagnation. Maybe this outlook could be helpful when balancing a formula for someone with this body type so that it does not push them too far into a sanguine, hott, awakend state creating an imbalancefor them from there natural state. Even clinical herbalist Anne Merrill would describe the plant as moving and yet still having a softening quality. Invertly it can may even be use to cool over heated situations in the body down, specifically the tissues of the body and the reproductive system while allowing a humorally hot individual to stay within there natural moving, warm state of being. To me evening primrose controls the fire within the core but still allows it to stay alive, kindled, burning bright and strong as it should.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification by Thomas J. Elpel's. Page 114.

Henriette's Herbal Homepage. Oenothera-Evening Primrose Kings American Dispensatory1898 

Lady Bird Johnsons Wildflower Center The University of Austin Tx. Oenothera speciosa

Making Plant Medicine Richo Chech. Page 150.

Herbal Constituents: Foundations of Phytochemistry by Lisa Ganora. Page 188.

Natural News. Evening primrose oil: The king's cure all

Passionflower Monograph by Student Contributor Crystal Walter

Passiflora Incarnata (Passifloraceae)
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) was used traditionally in the
Americas and later in Europe as a calming herb for anxiety, insomnia,
seizures, and hysteria. It is still used today to treat anxiety and
insomnia. Scientists believe passionflower works by increasing levels
of a chemical called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA
lowers the activity of some brain cells, making you feel more relaxed.
Passionflower is ecologically intriguing, drop-dead gorgeous, and an
incredibly useful herbal medicine and wild edible.
The Latin word for passionflower is Passiflora incarnata. The effects
of passionflower tend to be milder than valerian (Valeriana
officinalis) or kava (Piper methysticum), 2 other herbs used to treat
anxiety. Passionflower is often combined with valerian, lemon balm
(Melissa officinalis), or other calming herbs. Few scientific studies
have tested passionflower as a treatment for anxiety or insomnia,
however, and since passionflower is often combined with other calming
herbs, it is difficult to tell what effects passionflower has on its
own. Passionflower leaves (Passiflora spp.) are the only food source
for gulf fritillary caterpillars (Agraulis vanillae, Nymphalidae) and
butterfly larvae also feed on passionflower leaves.
Passiflora incarnata plant-ant mutualism is so important to certain
species of plants that their survival is contingent on the presence of
their little bodyguards. Some ants even go so far as to girdle the
twigs of neighboring plants that might otherwise outcompete their
plant friend. Passionflower produces extrafloral nectaries at the base
of the leaf, on the very top of the petiole (leaf stalk), and at the
base of the flower, on the little green bracts (leaf-like appendages
below a flower or group of flowers) below the petals (pictured below
is an ant feeding off the extra-floral nectaries on the bracts below
the flower bud). If you spend enough time with the plant you will see
the ants crawling over the plant and pausing periodically to feed at
the nectaries.
Passiflora closests analog is Ashwagandha.  One study of 36 people
with generalized anxiety disorder found that passionflower was as
effective as the drug oxazepam (Serax) for treating symptoms. However,
the study lacked a placebo group, so it is not considered to be
definitive. In another study of 91 people with anxiety symptoms,
researchers found that an herbal European product containing
passionflower and other herbal sedatives significantly reduced
symptoms compared to placebo. A more recent study found that patients
who were given passionflower before surgery had less anxiety, but
recovered from anesthesia just as quickly, than those given placebo.
During my studies I performed a weeks proving of passiflora incarnata
and found consistent relief of insomnia and anxiety symptoms.
Native to southeastern parts of the Americas, passionflower is now
grown throughout Europe. It is a perennial climbing vine with
herbaceous shoots and a sturdy woody stem that grows to a length of
nearly 10 meters (about 32 feet). Each flower has 5 white petals and 5
sepals that vary in color from magenta to blue. According to folklore,
passionflower got its name because its corona resembles the crown of
thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. Passionflower’s floral
arrangement is so unique that early Christian missionaries decided to
capitalize on its distinctive morphology, and use it as an educational
tool in describing Christ’s crucifixion. The name describes the
passion of Christ and his disciples, although in addition, it does
excite passion in laboratory mice, who have demonstrated increased
mounting of non-estrus females. The passionflower's ripe fruit is an
egg-shaped berry that may be yellow or purple. Some kinds of
passionfruit are edible.
Above the corona rises the androgynophore (translates to
male-female-bearing), which is the shared female and male reproductive
structure. Rising above the short stalk, there are the five stamens
(male, bearing pollen). Above the stamens rests the pistil, which is
the female part of the flower; the pistil is comprised of three parts:
the ovary, resembling a green ball, giving rise to the three styles
and stigmas (female).
Passionflower has an interesting floral reproductive strategy: on any
given plant, some flowers will be functionally bisexual (with fertile
male and female parts), and some plants will be functionally male
(with both male and female parts present, but only the male is
functioning reproductively).
Parts Used:
The above ground parts (flowers, leaves, and stems) of the
passionflower are used for medicinal purposes.
Available forms include the following:

        •       Infusions
        •       Teas
        •       Liquid extracts
        •       Tinctures

How to Take It:
No studies have examined the effects of passionflower in children, so
do not give passionflower to a child without a doctor's supervision.
Adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child's weight.
Contra-indications/ Side effects: {x} bradycardia; hypotension;
concurrent use of pharmaceutical sedatives.
According to Mills and Bone[xi], passionflower is in the following
category of herbs:
Drugs that have been taken by only a limited number of pregnancy women
and women of childbearing age, without an increase in the frequency of
malformation of other direct or indirect harmful effects on the human
fetus having been observed. Studies in animals have not shown evidence
of an increased occurrence of fetal damage.
In the American Herbal Products Association Botanical Safety
Book[xii], Passionflower is not contra-indicated in pregnancy or
In Herbal Medicines, third edition {vi}, Barnes et al report no
recorded drug/herb interactions, however a hydroalcoholic extract was
reported to potentiate rhythmic rat spasms in isolated rat uterus, and
based on these results, the author’s caution against using
passionflower in pregnancy.
Pregnancy: [viii] [ix] headache and pain, in general; prevention of
herpes outbreak; hypertension; help with insomnia and exhaustion in
postpartum depression; insomnia and anxiety. Please see the notes in
the contra-indications section regarding passionflower’s safety in
Indications/Usages:[vi] [vii]
Nervous system/antispasmodic: insomnia, anxiety, anxietous depression,
hypersensitivity to pain, headaches, agitation, transitioning from
addictions, tics, hiccoughs, overstimulation, nervine tonic in
preventing outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus, stress-induced
hypertension, and menstrual cramps. The mandala-like flower
demonstrates the powerful signature of its use in circular thinking,
especially during insomnia; passionflower is especially suited for
folks who have a hard time letting things go, mulling them over
incessantly in a repetitive manner.
Children: insomnia; trouble sleeping through the night; teething;
colic; adjunct treatment in asthma; especially with panic around
asthma attacks; whooping cough.  See the notes below on calculating
dosages for children.
Determining dosage in children by weight:
To determine the child’s dosage by weight, you can assume that the
adult dosage is for a 150-pound adult. Divide the child’s weight by
150. Take that number and multiply it by the recommended adult dosage.
For example, if your child weighs 50 pounds, she will need one-third
the recommended dose for a 150-pound adult. If the adult dosage is
three droppers full of a tincture, she will need one third of that
dose, which is one dropper full (1/3 of 3 droppers full). A 25-pound
child would need one-sixth the adult dose, so he would receive one
half of a dropper full (1/6 of 3 droppers full).
The following are examples of forms and doses used for adults. Speak
to your doctor for specific recommendations for your condition:

        •       Tea: Steep 0.5 - 2 g (about 1 tsp.) of dried herb in 1 cup boiling
water for 10 minutes; strain and cool. For anxiety,
                          drink 3 - 4 cups per day. For insomnia,
drink one cup an hour before going to bed.
        •       Fluid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol): 10 - 20 drops, 3 times a day
        •       Tincture (1:5 in 45% alcohol): 10 - 45 drops, 3 times a day
The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body
and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can
interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these
reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a
health care provider.
Do not take passionflower if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
For others, passionflower is generally considered to be safe and
nontoxic in recommended doses.
Possible Interactions:

Passionflower may interact with the following medications:
Sedatives (drugs that cause sleepiness) -- Because of its calming
effect, passionflower may make the effects of sedative medications
stronger. These medications include:

        •       Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin (Dilantin)
        •       Barbiturates
        •       Benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium)
        •       Drugs for insomnia, such as zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata),
eszopiclone (Lunesta), ramelteon (Rozerem)
        •       Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil),
amoxapine, doxepin (Sinequan), and nortriptyline

Antiplatelets and anticoagulants (blood thinners) -- Passionflower may
increase the amount of time blood needs to clot, so it could make the
effects of blood thinning medications stronger and increase your risk
of bleeding. Blood thinning drugs include:

        •       Clopidogrel (Plavix)
        •       Warfarin (Coumadin)
        •       Aspirin

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors or MAOIs) -- MAO
inhibitors are an older class of antidepressants that are not often
prescribed now. Theoretically, passionflower might increase the
effects of MAO inhibitors, as well as their side effects, which can be
dangerous. These drugs include:

        •       Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
        •       Phenelzine (Nardil)
        •       Tranylcypromine (Parnate)

Alternative Names:

Passiflora incarnata; Maypop
        •       Reviewed last on: 6/23/2011
        •       Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice
specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ.
Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

Edible Fruit
Passionflower is also called maypop, the origin of the name is often
attributed to children’s proclivity for jumping on the hollow fruits
for the simple joy of hearing them “pop”. Daniel Austin demystifies
this common etymological misconception in Florida Ethnobotany: “The
names maricock and maracocks gave rise to maracoc, maycock, maypop
(Alabama, North Carolina), mollypop (Alabama, North Carolina) ……All of
these names are supposedly derived from mahcawq (Powhatan), akin to
machkak (Menomini)…”[ii]
The ripe fruits have a spongy partition, interesting in texture, which
bears the ripe whitish yellow edible flesh surrounding the black hard
seeds. I pop open the fruits when they are starting to turn yellow and
begin to wrinkle, and slurp up the seedy flesh. I prefer to chew up
the crunchy edible seeds, but some folks opt to spit them out. The
fruit was eaten and perhaps cultivated by Native Americans as
evidenced by historical accounts and the presence of seeds of in many
archeological sites. One historical account from 1612 stated, “… yt is
a good Sommer Cooling fruict, and in every field where the indigenous
people plant their Corne be Cart-loades of them.” [iii]
It is likely that Native people encouraged this native weedy vine in
their corn/bean/squash patches typical of traditional polyculture
farming methods (growing different species of plants together, and
allowing/encouraging weedy edibles to fill in bare patches).
The taste is sour/sweet, with the unripe fruits being decidedly
sourer. The passion fruit of commerce is the closely related
Passiflora edulis, native to South America, now grown throughout the
tropics for its tasty fresh fruit and juice.
Personal experience from Herbalists:
I use passionflower, primarily in tincture form for insomnia.
Passionflower is one of the herbs I use commonly for dysmenorrhea
(menstrual cramps), often in combination with motherwort, black
cohosh, and kava kava. Many women find relief with passionflower for
cranky PMS moments.
Considered safe for children, it is beneficial internally to take the
edge off teething, and to help children relax when they are climbing
up the walls. Many parents use it to help children who wake frequently
throughout the night sleep more soundly. As one of our safer
anti-anxiety herbs, it can be helpful in treating children’s acute or
chronic anxiety, and also to help them deal with an acutely traumatic
or stressful situation.
Passionflower is one of my favored remedies for acute musculoskeletal
pain; I use it in combination with meadowsweet, black birch, and
skullcap for muscle strains, sprains and joint inflammation in
        •       hypnotic (sleep-aid)
        •       analgesic (pain-reliever)
        •       hypotensive (lowers blood pressure)
        •       nervine
        •       anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
        •       anti-spasmodic
        •       antidepressant
Energetics: slightly cooling and drying, mildly bitter
Traditional Uses: The Cherokee used the roots as a poultice to draw
out inflammation in thorn wounds; tea of the root in the ear for
earache; and tea of the root to wean infants. [iv] The Houma people
infused the roots as a blood tonic. ii
It is interesting to note that contemporary herbalists use primarily
the leaves, stems and flowers, whereas the ethnobotanical literature
cites medicinal use of the roots only. In discussing its inclusion
into the Eclectic material medica, Felter and Lloyd state in King’s
American Dispensatory:[v]
Passiflora was introduced into medicine in 1839 or 1840 by Dr. L.
Phares, of Mississippi, who, in the New Orleans Medical Journal,
records some trials of the drug made by Dr. W. B. Lindsay, of Bayou
Gros Tete, La. The use of the remedy has been revived within recent
years, Prof. I. J. M. Goss, M. D., of Georgia, having introduced it
into Eclectic practice. Prof. Goss, who introduced it to the Eclectic
profession, employed the root and its preparations. We know of
physicians who prefer the tincture of the leaves, and others still,
who desire the root with a few inches of the stem attached.
Eclectic specific indications and uses: {v} irritation of brain and
nervous system with atony; sleeplessness from overwork, worry, or from
febrile excitement, and in the young and aged; neuralgic pains with
debility; exhaustion from cerebral fullness, or from excitement;
convulsive movements; infantile nervous irritation; nervous headache;
tetanus; hysteria; oppressed breathing; cardiac palpitation from
excitement or shock.
Michael Moorisms:[x] Cardiovascular excess in mesomorphs, sthenic
middle-aged women; complementary with Crataegus, lowers diastolic
pressure; PMS depression, PMS with insomnia; insomnia in sthenic
individuals; and headache in hypertensive states with tinnitus.
Cultivated/Wildcrafted: Passionflower is abundant throughout an
extensive range, so it’s not under threat as a species. Although, in
the peripheries of its range, it may be only sporadically found. At
the time of this writing, most of the major herbal distributors in the
U.S. are selling organically grown herb from Italy, which is
surprising considering its abundance and ease of cultivation in the
southeastern U.S.
Part used:  Leaves, stem, and flowers, harvest when the leaves are
green and vital
Preparation & Dosage:
Tincture: 1:2 95% fresh herb
1:5 50 % freshly dried herb
Both preparations: 2-4 droppers full up to three times/day
Tea: .5 to 2 grams of herb per cup of water as an infusion up to 3  times/day
Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H,
Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a
pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin
Pharm Ther. 2001;26(5):369-373.
Akhondzadeh S. Passionflower in the treatment of opiates withdrawal: a
double-blind randomized controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther.
Barbosa PR, Valvassori SS, Bordignon CL Jr, Kappel VD, Martins MR,
Gavioli EC, et al. The aqueous extracts of Passiflora alata and
Passiflora edulis reduce anxiety-related behaviors without affecting
memory process in rats. J Med Food. 2008 Jun;11(2):282-8.
[vi] Barnes, Joanne, et al. Herbal Medicine, Third Edition
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded
Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine
Communications; 2000:293-296.
[i] Dai, C. and Galloway, L. F. (2012), Male flowers are better
fathers than hermaphroditic flowers in andromonoecious Passiflora
incarnata. New Phytologist, 193: 787-796.
Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A. Anxiolytic activity of aerial and
underground parts of Passifloraincarnata. Fitoterapia. 2001;72:922-6.
Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A. Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of
Passiflora incarnata Linneaus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;78:165-70.
Elsas SM, Rossi DJ, Raber J, White G, Seeley CA, Gregory WL, Mohr C,
Pfankuch T, Soumyanath A. Passionflora incarnata L. (Passionflower)
extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and
show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with
extraction method. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(12):940-9.
Ernst E, ed. Passionflower. The Desktop Guide to Complementary and
Alternative Medicine. Edinburgh: Mosby; 2001:140-141.
[v] Felter and Lloyd. King’s American Dispensatory.
Grundmann O, Wang J, McGregor GP, Butterweck V. Anxiolytic Activity of
a Phytochemically Characterized Passiflora incarnata Extract is
Mediated via the GABAergic System. Planta Med. 2008
[iv] Hamel, B. and Chiltoskey, Mary U. Cherokee Plants and their uses-
a 400 year history
[vii] Hoffman, David. Medical Herbalism
Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety
and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J. 2010;9:42.
Larzelere MM, Wiseman P. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Prim Care.
2002 Jun;29(2):339-60, vii. Review.
[xii] McGuffin, Michael et al. American Herbal Products Association’s
Botanical Safety Handbook
[xi] Mills, S. and Bone, K. The Essential guide to Herbal Safety
Miyasaka L, Atallah A, Soares B. Passiflora for anxiety disorder.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jan 24;(1):CD004518.
[x] Moore, Michael. Southwest School of Botanical Medicine, 2001.
Author’s personal class notes.
Movafegh A, Alizadeh R, Hajimohamadi F, Esfehani F, Nejatfar M.
Preoperative oral Passiflora incarnata reduces anxiety in ambulatory
surgery patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Anesth
Analg. 2008 Jun;106(6):1728-32.
[viii] Romm, Aviva Jill. The Natural Pregnancy Book – Herbs,
Nutrition, and other Holistic Choices.
[ix] Romm, Aviva et al. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia,
PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc; 2002;294-297.
[iii] Strachney, Wm. (1612) 1953. The Historie of Travell into
Virginia Britania. London (Wright, L. B. and
Freund, V., Eds. Reprinted by Hakluyt Society, London.)