by Francisco G. Gómez
Passiflora edulis, better known as Passion Fruit, is one of the most beautiful plants I have ever had the pleasure of caring for and using medicinally. People who grew/grow up in the Caribbean use this plant to make a refreshing drink, also to treat a number of diseases naturally and spiritually. There are two types of this fruit; one is dark purple (Passiflora edulis L.). It’s about the size of a lemon and it grows in cool weather. The other is bright yellow (Passiflora.edulis f. flavicarpa) and it is much bigger in size. It can grow to the size of a grapefruit and fairs best in warm climates.
From a scientific perspective, Passion fruit contains phytochemicals such as, harmine, passaflorine, harman, harmalin, harmol, vitexin, carotenoids, chrysin, isovitexin, scopoletin and theobromine. Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicalsthat have protective or disease preventive properties. They are nonessential nutrients, meaning that they are not required by the human body for sustaining life; however, it is well-known that plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves.
The leaves, flowers, peels and stems are all used as medicine in different ways. The leaves mainly contain the alkaloids. Harman, mentioned above, lowers blood pressure naturally. The flower can be made into a sedative and antispasmodic. Passion flower is also used to treat nervous disorders, bronchial conditions, arthritis, asthma, insomnia, gastrointestinal disorders and menopausal symptoms. Carotenoids and polyphenols in the yellow fruit extract can also kill cancer cells in vitro.
So you may be asking, what’s the whole religious thing about Passion Fruit? I first heard the following story from my grandmother when I was a child. Grandma would always make me a drink of some natural herb or fruit and tell me how they were connected to nature from a religious point of view; it was just her way. According to her, catholic missionaries who accompanied the Spanish Conquistadores in their conquest of the “New World” believed that there was a religious connection between the flower and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, hence the name “Passion.” They associated the three stigmas of the fruit to the three nails used to pierce the hands and feet of Christ. They also saw the threads of the flower as representing the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head; the tendrils found on the vines as the whips that were used to lash him and the five anthers represented the five wounds, including the one made by the Spear of Destiny.
Now that I retell the stories that I learned as a young boy, I can say that I’ve left the religious part all behind! It’s a good thing that Granny is not around to see my spiritual evolution! The lessons my Grand Mother taught me about nature stuck with me throughout my long life, and they continue to reinforce me when I lose track of the spirit. In the on going age of the quick fix pill and the forgotten spiritual aspects of life, it is a relief to know that Passion is much more than a fruit that heals the body, but rather a fruit that is healing for the spirit and soul as well…