Passiflora. Passiflora incarnata.

Botanical name: 

Synonym—Passion Flower.

Extractum Passiflorae Fluidum, Fluid Extract of Passiflora. Dose, from ten minims to one dram.
Specific Passiflora. Dose, from one to fifteen minims.

Physiological Action—Ott reports a series of experiments to determine the physiological action of passiflora incarnata. As a result he concludes that the agent exercises a depressing influence upon the reflex activity of the spinal cord. In acute mania it arrests the exaggerated activity of the cortex. It temporarily reduces the pulse and arterial tension, the latter apparently being due to an action upon the vasomotor center of the medulla oblongata. It stimulates the respiration and can therefore be given in large doses without danger.

Passiflora given in excessive doses causes spasms and paralysis in animals. It acts as a narcotic and antispasmodic in man when given in moderate doses. No extended investigation concerning its physiological action has yet been made.

Broadnax said that it is used by negroes in an application of the bruised leaves as a poultice to the head, for headaches; also to bruises to relieve pain. A decoction is used in teaspoon and tablespoonful doses in various aches and pains. Old rheumatics use poultices made from a strong decoction with cloths wrung out and bound tightly over the swollen joints. His attention was called to it by the peculiar odor of a mess of the green bruised leaves, bound to an old woman's abdomen. By this he learned of its use and used it for twenty-five years quite steadily.

It is as yet difficult to explain the fact that in some cases this agent is prompt, efficient and highly satisfactory, while in others the same preparation is inactive. This fact has created a wide difference of opinion between observers as to its usefulness.

Specific Symptomatology—Wakefulness, disturbed sleep from mental worry, and exhaustion from cerebral fullness and from excitement, especially with feebleness. Anemic patients are relieved by it, also the wakefulness of infants and the aged. It is not usually efficient if the wakefulness is caused by pain, nor when the patient is in full strength.

Nervous excitement, and irritation with muscular twitchings— evidences of approaching convulsions in childhood—with marked cerebral fullness are indications, and it is given at any time preceding or during convulsive paroxysms if it can be swallowed. It is indicated in convulsions of any character.

Therapy—In the convulsions of childhood it is a most reliable agent. The writer has given it at the onset of the spasm when the approaching symptoms were unmistakable, and has had the satisfaction of seeing all the symptoms disappear so promptly, that confidence has become established. It has controlled severe spasms while the irritating causes yet remained, and after all antispasmodics except anesthesia have been ineffectual. It can be relied upon to hold the spasms in check while the causes are being removed, and reduces their force and character. In epilepsy it lessens the number of the paroxysms, but to ward off the paroxysms the attack must be anticipated by a full dose of the remedy. When its approach is unannounced, the full effects of the agent are not obtained.

Passiflora has hypnotic properties which differ from other agents of this class in that the sleep produced is normal in all its characteristics. The patient goes to sleep naturally, can be awakened as usual at any time, to fall into a quiet, natural slumber. He awakens at the usual time rested and refreshed, with no disturbance of the cerebral functions, no languor, dullness or other disagreeable sensations.

Dr. Steele of Missouri uses passiflora in chorea. In persistent cases he combines it with cimicifuga with satisfactory results.

If given in doses sufficiently large, it may be relied upon to assist in the relaxation of the tonic spasm of meningitis, and local tetanic spasm. It has relieved a few cases of general tetanus. It has cured tetanus in horses. It may be given as an antidote to the spasms of strychnine poisoning, but it must be given in doses of from one-fourth to one-half ounce and frequently repeated. As an anti-spasmodic in cases where there is engorgement of the nerve centers, it is applicable. It has relieved tonic, and clonic spasms, and the spasms of sthenic as well as asthenic conditions.

In the treatment of hysteria the agent should be persisted in. It may be given in conjunction with cimicifuga, gelsemium and pulsatilla, and if there be pain, due to menstrual or other disorders, it may be combined with cannabis indica, or Jamaica dogwood, in appropriate and properly regulated doses.

Dr. Roth believes that passiflora is a direct stomach sedative. A number of physicians have confirmed this opinion. One patient who had been on a spree for days suffering from persistent hiccough, took a teaspoonful of the tincture every hour. This gave him freedom from the hiccough and in a short time a quiet, natural, continued sleep, waking in the morning in nearly a normal condition.

Dr. Freeman gives a combination of passiflora four drams, hyoscyamus one-half dram, cannabis indica one-half dram in a four ounce mixture, and to patients addicted to drug habits, who cannot sleep, he gives from one to two teaspoonfuls of this at early bedtime, repeated if necessary.

One of the attending physicians in the tuberculosis wards of Cook County Hospital told this author that passiflora was his reliance in the sleeplessness of tuberculosis, especially controlling the cough. He would add two drams of passiflora to three ounces of water, and give a dram every half hour, the latter part of the day or early evening and during the night, and very seldom failed to secure satisfactory results. Other forms of cough can be relieved by it.

The agent is not known to possess injurious or poisonous properties. It has been used in erysipelas both externally and internally, and in acute inflammatory skin disorders with nervous elements and nervous complications.

The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy, 1919, was written by Finley Ellingwood, M.D.
It was scanned by Michael Moore for the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine.