Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is an herb used in traditional medicine for anxiety, insomnia and seizures. Testing has shown sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Passiflora contains alkaloids, phenols, flavonoids (vitexin and rutin), etc. A specific extract of passionflower (Pasipay) is used for opioid withdrawal.
The current pharmacologic treatment of seizures has many side effects and 30% of patients have seizures with treatment. Herbal products can be used with drugs and in this study, passionflower extract (Pasipay) was studied against seizures. The passionflower extract, diazepam and normal saline (for normal control) were tested against seizures caused by pentylentetrazole (a GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid blocker), which induces clonic seizures in mice.
Injections of flumazenil (a benzodiazepine receptor blocker) block the anticonvulsant effects of diazepam (a benzodiazepine) and alter the effect of passionflower of prolonging seizure latency and duration. (Passionflower was blocked by a benzodiazepine receptor blocker.) Naloxone (an opioid receptor blocker) reduced the effect of passionflower by increasing the length of seizures. Previous studies have shown that flavonoids act as benzodiazepine-like molecules in the central nervous system (CNS). Flavonoids may be the primary CNS active ingredient of passionflower.
At the dose of .4 mg/kg, the passionflower extract (Pasipay) was found to delay the onset of seizures and reduce their duration. At .4 mg/kg, seizure and mortality protection was good.
CONCLUSION: Passionflower extract is a useful treatment for absence seizures. This is believed to be due to GABAergic and opioid effects. The authors suggest that more studies be done.
NOTE: Valium is diazepam (a benzodiazepine) and benzodiazepines are known GABA inhibitory receptors. Active flavonoids include homoorientin, orientin, vitexin, and isovitexin.
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