Villa Quetzal

Villa Quetzal

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Passion Fruit or Maracuyá is a delicious tropical fruit, plentiful in Costa Rica. It is also a great aid for anxiety and Insomnia.

Passion fruit it is also called Maracuyá.  It is the fruit of a tropical plant, well known for its vines, and its flowers.  I know; it is a bit confusing when people talk about the fruit, the vine, and the flower as if they were interchangeable.  To a certain extent, they are… each one of the parts can be consumed by humans, and each one of them provides some kind of medicinal benefits.

Many people recognize this plant by its scientific name “Passiflora.”

It is a hardy wood vine.  It can grow up to 10 meters long and puts off tendrils, enabling to climb up and over other plants in the rainforest canopy.  It bears striking large white flowers with pink or purple centers.  The flowers are actually the ones giving the name to this plant, mainly because the Spanish missionaries thought they represented some of the objects associated with the passion and crucifixion of Christ.  

The vine produces a delicious fruit, which is the size of a large lemon; its smooth skin starts to wrinkle when it is ripe, and that is the best time to eat it.  The name given to this fruit in the Amazon is maracuyá, and it grows from South to North America.  There are hundreds of species of this vine, but the most known are the incarnata and the edulis.

In 1569, Passionflower was discovered in Peru by a Spanish doctor by the name of Monardes.  He documented the indigenous uses, and shared the information with the old world; it quickly became a popular calming and sedative herbal tea.  The Spanish conquerors also introduced the plant to Europe, where it became widely cultivated, and is currently a part of the herb medicine systems.   

Chemical analysis indicates Passionflower contains three main groups of active substances:  alkaloids, glycosides, and flavonoids.  It also contains maltol, which has been documented with sedative properties.  A group of harmane alkaloids demonstrated, antispasmodic- activity as well as the ability to lower blood pressure.  In addition, a flavonoid by the name of chrysin has proven significant anti-anxiety action.
Passionflowers are edible; they are used in tropical cuisine as an addition for salads or a garnish for food or beverages.

·         Passionflower is used to relax hyperactive children.
·         It has disinfectant properties.  
·         It provides the same benefits than the herb, in a mild version.

The use of the Passion vine (Passiflora incarnata) has a depressing effect on the central nervous system.  In other words, it slows the action on the nerves.  That is why the herb is very helpful in cases of insomnia and muscular spasms.  It seems to be the best natural drug to slow down over-activity of the nervous system as well as any condition resulting from it, including severe spasms, epilepsy, tetanus, hysteria, and even obsessive thinking can be reduced using this herb.

The herb, (vine, and leaves) may be made into tea, dried and into capsules, or distilled into a tincture for higher potency.
The leaves are typically prepared in standard infusions; the traditional dosage is 1 cup 2-3 times daily; however, it can be substituted with 2-3 grams in tablets or capsules, also 2-3 times every day.

·         It is known to calm nervousness and anxiety. 
·         It acts as a mild sleep aid.                 
·         It can help to relax the digestive system.
·         It is anti-hypertensive.
·         It may be helpful for asthma.

There are two types of Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis), purple and yellow, they look very different in appearance, but they actually taste the same.  The purple is the smaller of both, being the size of a large egg, also has an oval shape.  The yellow one, is round in shape, and can be as big as an orange. 
Both contain a jelly-like pulp inside with hundreds of small black seeds.
It is important to eat them only when they are ripe because the unripe fruit may contain toxins.  The way to know if the fruit is ripened is by the extent of wrinkles in the skin.  The fruit with more wrinkles is better and sweeter. 

Passion fruit is a healthy fruit, due to it high content of potassium, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and dietary fiber.

·         The juice is delicious and may be helpful for those with high blood pressure. 
·         The juice contains the same alkaloids, glycosides, and flavonoids than the flower, but in a milder amount. 
·         Therefore, if you drink a glass of cold passion fruit juice, you may experience a relaxation of your mind as well as a sense of calmness and happiness.

    Since we are living a fast-paced life with increasing uncertainty, it is very common to find ourselves experiencing some level of anxiety and irritation towards the daily events that seem out of our control.  Sometimes, our nervous system gets so unbalanced we cannot fall asleep, even though the nervous system desperately needs sleep.  The use of passiflora, simply gives the nerves a break when they need it.  It will gently slow the system down so we can drift off to sleep without fear of a hangover the next day, and much healthier than sleeping pills.


Of course, when you visit Costa Rica, you might find yourself in an environment that helps you to forget about the daily troubles, and makes you feel you are in the physical and mental vacation you have been dreaming of for a while. If that is the case, then you do not need passiflora, but you can still enjoy a delightful Maracuyá mimosa.  Cheers! 

Costa Rica is waiting for you with open arms and its many gifts of nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment