The petals of a passionflower in full bloom are open so wide, they look like outstretched arms. That pose is what Catholic priests were referring to when they named the flower in the 1500s, likening it to the Passion of Christ. Symbolism aside, passionflower extract can be as beneficial to people as its flowers are beautiful.
The most commonly used passionflower is also known as the maypop (or Passiflora incarnata), a vine with purple flowers native to South America and the southern parts of the U.S. Indigenous peoples of both continents traditionally used the flower in teas to treat insomnia, anxiety, pain, and other ailments. And just a heads up: passionflower isn’t the same species as passion fruit, though they may share some of the same qualities.
What Is Passionflower Extract Good For?
With today's renewed interest in ancient herbal remedies, scientists are beginning to study passionflower's benefits. Much of what they've published has to do with its potential to treat mental health issues such as anxiety and ADHD, and some complementary medicine practices and herbalists already prescribe passionflower extract to patients.
Along the way, people have also begun to rediscover how topical use of passionflower extract can also benefit the skin, helping to moisturize, protect, and calm inflammation.
Totally Moisturizing—Without Clogging Pores
Passionflower extract is rich in fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid that's essential to our whole body's functions. We get most of linoleic acid through diet, but it's also quite helpful when applied topically. This component is part of the reason passionflower extract feels soft on the skin, never greasy. Linoleic acid also helps repair and maintain the skin's natural barrier, which is how we keep moisture from escaping.
There are some major anti-inflammatory compounds in passionflower extract, including linoleic acid, vitamin A (in the form of lycopene), and vitamin C. Inflammation often comes in the form of acne and redness in skin, so these hero ingredients offer a welcome relief to a number of skin conditions.
Passionflower contains many antioxidants, including vitamin C and lycopene, that neutralize the damaging free radicals that come from the ultraviolet rays and pollution. In other words, they protect skin cells and their DNA from the aging effects of the sun.
How To Use Passionflower Extract
Given that passionflower has anti-inflammatory properties and protects against the sun's skin-damaging effects, it's a great component of a variety of skin care products. But combine those factors with the fact that it locks in all that moisture from the linoleic acid, it also makes fine lines much less visible than in dry skin—which is why it's specifically a perfect ingredient for eye creams.