As an herbalist, my friends seem to think that I have a natural green thumb and I am great with plants. The truth of the matter is that I am just beginning to live in a way that allows me to grow plants organically in the ground and tend to gardens on my own. When a friend asks me how they might keep their potted plants alive, my main message is this: just as you are a daily steward of your wellness, pay attention to your plants everyday.
Whether you are caring for plants in small pots, in a raised garden bed, or tucked in the corner of your yard, the most valuable message I can give is to be sure that you are witnessing your plants on a daily basis. No other plant has taught me how important this is than the incredible passion vine.
The seeds take 1-2 years to germinate and I won’t even pretend to have mastered the art of patience. I finally came across the vine under the perfect biorhythmic conditions (full moon, powerful sacred weekend, lots of rain) to transplant a few cuttings from central Florida to my home in Tampa in February and am happy to say that one of my cuttings made it through the changing of the seasons and is now even learning to creep up the fence I planted it against.
I cared for this plant everyday, watering it in the morning and again in the afternoon sun. If I was out of town I got students or friends to make sure that the plant got watered and stayed alive, so needless to say, the growing of this plant was very important to me.
I never considered myself to have a green thumb, but I also never attended to plants as deeply as I have begun to do in the last 6 months, believing that there is deep wisdom in tending to earth babies.
IS PASSIONFLOWER FOR YOU?
A relatively safe herb with few contraindications, the medicine of passionflower is in the vine and the beautiful, delicate leaves. There are hundreds of varieties but today we are specifically talking about passiflora incarnata with her purple, alien like flowers.
The passionflower got it’s name from early Christian missionaries seeing this plan as a representation of the passion of Christ and his disciples:
the pointed tips of the leaves represent the holy lance
the tendrils that cling to fences and other plants represent the flagellation of christ
the ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles
the flowers radial filaments represent the crown of thorns
the 3 stigmata represent the wounds of christ
Beyond an inspirational image for any Bhakti yogi, the plant itself is great for encouraging restful sleep. Brigitte Mars, in her article Sleep, says that slows down the breakdown of the brain chemicals, serotonin and norepinephrine, helping one to move into a more peaceful state of consciousness. As a sedative and antispasmodic, passionflower has been used to calm hysteria and nervousness.
Passionflower is one of my go to herbs for day time anxiety and insomnia, as well as nervous tensions and habitual patterns that involve a coiling in of the shoulders and arms. I know many herbalists how keep this handy, next to their bed and take a few dropperfuls before sleep and again if they wake up in the evening.
I recommend using this herb in tincture form as it can be easily accessed when you might need it.
LIGHT CHRONIC STRESS
-2-3 dropperfulls 2-3 times per day for chronic anxiety and stressful times
1-2 dropperfuls as needed or 1-2 dropperfuls every 30 minutes until symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, & tension subside
2-3 dropperfuls 1 hour before bed
2-3 dropperfuls before sleep
2-3 dropperfuls if you wake during the night
As a once in a while tea, I am not a huge fan of passionflower on it’s own. It blends well with other herbs so if you are already making a daily tisane, add some passionflower into it for general anxiety support.
WARMING SLEEPY TIME TEA
-2 part oat straw
-2 part passionflower
-1 part chamomile
-1 part valerian
-1 part ginger
DIRECTION: 1 Teaspoon to 1 cup of boiling water | brew for 20-30 minutes while you are preparing for bed
EVENING ROUTINE featuring Passionflower
tidy the house and room
prepare your notes for the next day so your todo list doesn’t interfere with your meditation/morning practice
engage in your personal hygiene protocol, maybe a luxurious bath?
brew tea and add milk and honey to taste
settle down with your favorite book and sip your tea until you are ready to sleep.
A NOTE ABOUT SLEEP: avoid looking at your electronics after you initiate your evening routine as the blue light from screens is known to prevent the release of the neurotransmitter melatonin