Besides being appreciated for its fantastical blooms, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is used medicinally to calm anxiety and improve sleep. It’s thought to increase levels of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA regulates the excitability of neurons in the brain. GABA is also suspected to regulate the production of melatonin, which is related to healthy sleep. And, since GABA is responsible for the regulation of muscle tone, passionflower is believed to reduce muscle tension.
To sum up, passionflower is used to:
- reduce anxiety
- improve sleep
- relax tense muscles
To make a tincture of passionflower, the leaves, vines, and flower buds are used. Try to harvest at the early flowering stage for greatest potency.
If using fresh, use a ratio of one part plant material to 2 parts menstruum (liquid used to extract the potent compounds from the herb) (1:2). The menstruum is usually alcohol, and that’s what I do, although glycerin and vinegar are sometimes used.
For this particular menstruum, I’m using a ratio of 75% grain alcohol and 25% water.
1. Roughly chop the plant parts and weigh them. For 2 ounces passionflower, for example, use 3 oz. grain alcohol and 1 oz. water, preferably distilled water. Place the passionflower and the menstruum in a blender and combine.
2. Pour into a glass container, add a lid, label with date and name of plant and leave in a dark, cool place.
3. Shake it daily for two weeks.
4. Strain through several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze out as much as you can.
5. Leave it to settle overnight, then pour off the clear liquid on the top (decant). Store in a dark glass container such as an amber glass bottle, tightly capped, in a cool, dark place.
Dosage: Adults, 1-2 droppersful, 3-5 times daily. Take in a small amount of water. Seniors use the lesser amounts.
Properly stored, tinctures are considered to last indefinitely, or for quite a long time. I know that’s not very specific, but use your best judgment.
You can be less finicky about all this if you like, and simply cover the chopped plant parts with 80 proof vodka, leave for a few weeks, strain, and store in a dark place.