Effects of Passionflower on Cortisol Levels

by on March 7th, 2015
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Whether you’re undergoing extreme mental stress due to work or are engaging in intense physical activity, when you’re body undergoes stress it immediately releases a hormone known as cortisol. The release of cortisol is controlled by the hypothalamus section of your brain, and when called upon, this hormone is released from your adrenal cortex.

The primary purpose of cortisol is to monitor the consumption of energy from fats, carbohydrates or proteins. While this is a vital hormone for a properly functioning body, one of the side effects of excess cortisol levels is fat accumulation.

The use of passionflower dates back for centuries, and its primary use involves promoting relaxation. Although passionflower does not directly influence the production and release of cortisol, its calming effects may indirectly help maintain healthy cortisol levels.

What is Passionflower?

According to research outlined by the University of Maryland Medical Center, the exact active compounds that provide this herb with its medicinal benefits are unknown. However, it is commonly believed among researchers that passionflower promotes relaxation by enhancing the production and release of GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid.

GABA is a brain chemical directly responsible for reducing brain cell activity, which results in mental and physical relaxation. Because of this, many anti-anxiety prescription medications work by manipulating the production of GABA.

The University of Maryland Medical Center goes to outline a study where 36 participants with documented generalized anxiety disorder were given a passionflower concoction. Throughout the duration of the study, researchers found that this herb was just as effective at treating the symptoms of anxiety as oxazepam, which is a prescription anti-anxiety medication.

Passionflower and Cortisol:

According to the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine found a direct connection between cortisol levels and anxiety severity. Although there are no studies to directly link passionflower to cortisol production, using information from previous studies you may be able to reduce cortisol production through the relaxation qualities associated with passionflower.

Dosage:

Although there is not a definitive dosage recommendation for passionflower, the University of Maryland Medical Center does suggest taking passionflower as a tea. Add one teaspoon of dried passionflower to one cup of boiling water. Allow the tea to steep for five to ten minutes. Drink three to four cups of passionflower tea to help relieve anxiety symptoms.

References:

http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/stresscortisol.html

University of New Mexico: Cortisol Connection – Tips on Managing Stress and Weight

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20808146

American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: Elevated Cortisol in Older Adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder…

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/passionflower-000267.htm

University of Maryland Medical Center: Passionflower


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