Passionflowers aren’t just pretty ornamentals, they’re also cancer busters
01/07/2020 // Evangelyn Rodriguez // Views

The genus Passiflora is composed of more than 500 different species of plants, most of which are used as ornamentals. Commonly called passionflowers or passion vines, these plants are well-known for producing brightly colored flowers with different hues. However, passionflowers aren't just intended for visuals. Ongoing research suggests that these plants also possess a variety of medicinal properties that make them potent sedatives, analgesics, antidepressants and anxiolytics. And only recently, evidence has emerged of a Passiflora species having cytotoxic potential against different cancer cells.

In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Brazilian researchers investigated the cytotoxicity of various Passiflora species using colon cancer, ovarian cancer and leukemia cell lines. Of the 14 species included in the study, they found that the plant Passiflora alata, also known as the winged-stem passionflower, is rich in flavonoids with anti-cancer activity. These compounds proved to be highly cytotoxic to the leukemia cell line HL-60 but not to normal cancer cells, suggesting a selectivity to cancer cells that could prove beneficial in clinical settings.

The winged-stem passionflower kills cancer cells but not normal cells

For their study, the researchers used ethanol to obtain extracts from the leaves of 14 Passiflora species in a method called accelerated solvent extraction. They then evaluated the in vitro cytotoxicity of these extracts against cancer cell lines using MTT assay.


The researchers also determined the IC50 of P. alata (ELPA) leaf extracts against both cancer (HCT-116, SF-295, OVACAR-8 and HL-60) cells and non-cancer cells (PBMC). IC50 or half maximal inhibitory concentration is a measure of the effectiveness of a substance in inhibiting a biochemical function.

Using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, the researchers identified 10 ELPA flavonoids. They then conducted morphological analyses using light and fluorescence microscopy, and cell cycle and DNA fragmentation analyses using flow cytometry to study the mechanism of cell death induced by ELPA in HL-60 cells.

Among the Passiflora leaf extracts evaluated, ELPA exhibited the highest cytotoxicity against HL-60 cells (IC50 19.37 ug/mL) but was not cytotoxic against PBMC, suggesting selectivity for cancer cells.

The researchers believe that the cytotoxic activity of ELPA is linked to the presence of the 10 flavonoids they have identified. They also reported that ELPA-treated cells showed signs of apoptosis (programmed cell death) and necrosis (death due to lack of blood supply), with cell cycle arrest in the G2/M phase.

Based on these results, the researchers concluded that the cytotoxic activity of ELPA against cancer cells may be due to the synergistic action of flavonoids in it, which induces cell death by apoptosis and necrosis.

The medicinal benefits of Passiflora plants

Passiflora plants have been used by Native Americans as traditional remedies for a variety of conditions such as skin conditions like boils, wounds, liver problems, insomnia and even mood-related conditions like anxiety. Some species, like P. foetida or stinking passionflower and P. serrato-digitata, can also be used to relieve stomach problems, particularly stomach ulcers, according to studies. Today, Passiflora plants like P. incarnata (purple passionflower) are made into herbal supplements that help treat seizures and hysteria. They are also available as infusions, liquid extracts, teas and tinctures. (Related: Herbs for anxiety: Experts share the science behind some that are most effective.)

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), passionflower supplements are generally safe for use. However, they may cause minor side effects like drowsiness, dizziness or confusion. Pregnant women are also cautioned against using supplements with passionflower as they could induce contractions. To avoid possible interactions with any medication you are currently taking, consult your health care provider before using passionflower remedies.

Sources include:

Take Action:
Support Natural News by linking to this article from your website.
Permalink to this article:
Embed article link:
Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use is permitted with credit to (including a clickable link).
Please contact us for more information.
Free Email Alerts
Get independent news alerts on natural cures, food lab tests, cannabis medicine, science, robotics, drones, privacy and more.
App Store
Android App
eTrust Pro Certified

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2022 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

This site uses cookies
Natural News uses cookies to improve your experience on our site. By using this site, you agree to our privacy policy.
Learn More
Get 100% real, uncensored news delivered straight to your inbox
You can unsubscribe at any time. Your email privacy is completely protected.