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Passion flower: An effective anxiety reliever

by , 21 June 2013
Passion flower: An effective anxiety reliever
When most people hear the word “passion” they think about lust and sex. But, passion flower - widely used in western herbal medicine - has nothing to do with what goes on in the bedroom. Instead, this herb is an effective anxiety reliever. Here's how it can help you ease anxiety...

According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety happens as a normal part of life and can even be useful when it alerts you to danger. But for some people, anxiety persistently interferes with daily activities such as work, school or sleep. What’s dangerous about this type of anxiety is that it can cause can disrupt your life relationships and enjoyment of life in general and over time, it can lead to health problems.

Luckily, you don’t have to put up with this type of anxiety in your life anymore. And it’s all   thanks to passion flower.

There are now several clinical trials that support the value of passion flower for alleviating anxiety symptoms.

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Ease your anxiety with passion flower

In one of these trials, researchers found that 45 drops of passion flower extract is just as effective as a widely used anti-anxiety benzodiazepine drug.

In another randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled study, a single dose of passion flower extract (equivalent to about 7g of dried herb) demonstrated a calming effect in healthy female volunteers.

“One of the more unique areas of study on this herb has been in treating the anxiety that many people feel prior to undergoing surgery,” writes Kerry Bone of Nutrition & Healing.

This sort of anxiety is especially challenging since any medication the patient takes to treat it can’t cause undue sedation or interact with general anaesthetic.

But “a recent clinical study found that a single dose of passion flower prior to outpatient surgery helped patients relax without putting them at risk,” writes Bone.

In this double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, 60 patients were asked to rate their pre-surgery anxiety. At the outset, the patients reported anxiety levels between 4.6 and 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst possible anxiety.

Then, 90 minutes before surgery they were given either a 500mg tablet of passion flower herb or a matching placebo. Their psychomotor function was assessed at arrival in the operating theatre and 30 and 90 minutes after the procedure.

Immediately before surgery, those who had received the placebo rated their anxiety at 3.88 out of 10.

But the passion flower group had an average rating of less than 1 – just 0.97 out of 10. There were no significant differences between the groups in the level of sedation before surgery and the recovery of function after surgery. Discharge times were also similar and no side effects were observed.

This study provides useful information on a number of levels on how passion flower can help anxiety

Most significantly it’s shown that a single, relatively low dose of passion flower acts as an effective short-term anxiety reliever without causing undue sedation. That means there’s no risk with driving or operating machinery.

In addition, “the study also demonstrates that herbal premedication before surgery can indeed be a safe and beneficial option to manage the significant apprehension or anxiety many patients feel prior to surgery. (Unfortunately, such a proposition would probably be viewed as “too radical” in most hospitals.),” writes Bone.

So, for now, passion flower is still best used as a general anxiety reliever. You can get it as a supplement in your local health shop. Just be sure to consult your doctor before treating yourself with it.

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