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our story   ·   07. Dec 2021

meet our second sofi formulation: passiflora

for better sleep and greater calm

The journey of personalised health continues with a plant long prised by medical herbalists for its therapeutic use in sleep mixes for the easing of anxiety, restlessness, nervous tension, and insomnia.

We are thrilled to finally reveal the star of our second plant-based formulation (coincidentally a plant that actually resembles a star): Passiflora incarnata L. — aka the passionflower! 

Passionflower, also referred to as Passiflora, is a gorgeous species of plant native to the areas of South America, Australia, and South-East Asia. This plant (including its flowers, leaves, fruits, and stems) is frequently harvested for medicinal purposes and its use in pharmaceuticals around the world - having evolved alongside us over a magnificent span of time (1).

In fact, evidence suggests that certain species of Passiflora have been consumed by humans, dating as far back as prehistoric times. 

Records from early European travellers in North America show that tribes such as the Algonkian and Creek commonly ate the fruits of both the wild and cultivated species of passionflower, P. edulis. And although the aerial parts are used for medicine, passiflora is the same plant species that brings us passionfruit (2). 

Presenting effectiveness in the treatment of sleep disorders, such as insomnia, Passiflora is thought to have been first lauded for its sedative abilities 1569, in Peru, by Spanish doctor, Monardes (3). 

This plant is unique both in appearance, as well as its ability to increase GABAergic activity without leading to metabolic damage over time - a common side effect of most sleeping pills (4). 

As a result, using passionflower as a herbal remedy for chronic insomnia is both a safe and highly effective treatment, shown to increase the activity of GABA receptors and levels of melatonin within the blood, without affecting body composition or appetite. 

It was no difficult choice to make passiflora our second plant-based formulation targeting better calm and sleep! But before we could make that decision, there was a lot of research we first had to explore…


passiflora for sleep and the treatment of insomnia

There are several bioactive compounds within passiflora that are thought to be responsible for its ability to aid in the regulation of sleep, and varying levels of these compounds can be seen in different species of the plant. 

Studies have shown that the flowers of the species Passiflora incarnata are particularly effective on improving parameters of sleep such as sleep onset latency (how long it takes to dose off), sleep duration, and the duration of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (5). 

Meanwhile, the leaves of Passiflora incarnata are often researched for their known depressant effects on the Central Nervous System (6). 

Passiflora acts as a modulator of the Central Nervous System via the active compounds within the plant extract that bind to GABA receptors, triggering a sedative response and decreasing the excitement of neurons within the brain (7).

As the major inhibitory molecule of the Central Nervous System (CNS), the GABA neurotransmitter plays a significant role in our ability to fall and remain asleep. 

Plants such as passiflora with properties found to activate GABAa receptors have the potential to support and even safely replace synthetic over the counter sleep medicines such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. This is one of the reasons why passiflora is so commonly employed by medical herbalists in their dispensaries - making this powerful plant renowned both traditionally and clinically for its use (8). 


how do I know if passiflora can work for me?

When it comes to a biological process as complex and complicated as sleep, we can expect our experiences to be unique; what works for one person may not work for another, and unfortunately there is no guarantee. 

However, by carefully selecting the species of passiflora that we use in our plant-based formulations, and by fingerprinting every batch of our plants, we begin to compile the data necessary to identify the specific compounds and natural variations within passiflora that provide your body with the best natural tools for sleep. 

By better understanding the precise way our plant pods work for different people — including exactly what, how much, and when — we’re able to create a system of personalised plant-based healthcare that’s 100% specific to you - and no one else.

Sign up to our S2 Pioneer Program now (by clicking here) to be one of the first to trial our plant pods for sleep containing passiflora - and discover exactly how sofi can help. 


Text References:

  1. Kim, M., Lim, H. S., Lee, H. H., & Kim, T. H. (2017). Role Identification of Passiflora Incarnata Linnaeus: A Mini Review. Journal of menopausal medicine, 23(3), 156–159
  2.  Taïwé, G.S., & Kuete, V. (2017). Chapter 24 – Passiflora edulis.
  3. Kugler, E & King, Leslie. (2004). A Brief History of the Passionflower. 
  4. Kim, M., Lim, H. S., Lee, H. H., & Kim, T. H. (2017). Role Identification of Passiflora Incarnata Linnaeus: A Mini Review. Journal of menopausal medicine, 23(3), 156–159
  5. Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytother Res. 2011 Aug;25(8):1153-9.
  6. Kim GH, Lim K, Yang HS, Lee JK, Kim Y, Park SK, Kim SH, Park S, Kim TH, Moon JS, Hwang IK, Yoon YS, Seo HS, Nam SM, Kim MY, Yoon SG, Seong JK, Yi SS. Improvement in neurogenesis and memory function by administration of Passiflora incarnata L. extract applied to sleep disorder in rodent models. J Chem Neuroanat. 
  7. Cho SM, Shimizu M, Lee CJ, Han DS, Jung CK, Jo JH, Kim YM. Hypnotic effects and binding studies for GABA(A) and 5-HT(2C) receptors of traditional medicinal plants used in Asia for insomnia. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Oct 28;132(1):225-32.
  8. Hu, Z., Oh, S., Ha, T. W., Hong, J. T., & Oh, K. W. (2018). Sleep-Aids Derived from Natural Products. Biomolecules & therapeutics, 26(4), 343–349.

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