Synergy: Passionflower and Saint John's Wort

Posted by Ashley Hanna on

Let's take a minute to define an important term used in herbal formulation. We'll discuss an example or two and a new formula change.


Synergy.


A thoughtful and well curated herbal formula doesn't just toss together a bunch of herbs that are ''good for'' a particular issue, it takes into account the very important and often complicated relationship that plants can have with one another. This relationship can be used to enhance the effects of a desired action or perhaps mitigate undesirable ones. 


Like an orchestra, each plant and it's many constituents play an important role.  They come together harmoniously to create a work of art more beautiful and powerful than any solo part could produce. 


Synergy can be found amidst any given single plant as the chemical compounds that comprise it work together. This is why using whole herb is often much preferred to using isolated compounds. A wonderful example of this is Willow Bark. This herb has been used for ages to alleviate pain.  This is the same herb that aspirin was developed from by isolating the biochemical compound salicylic acid. This compound, however needs to be buffered because it will cause great stomach upset (1). This is not the case with Willow Bark extract. Willow bark is a much more complex substance that contains compounds that mitigate those effects and help to soothe the digestive system and inflammation. That is the beauty of plant medicine. It may not be as potent and fast acting but it has far less potential for damage when used appropriately.


Synergy in herbal formulation refers to the process of using multiple botanicals in a specific and intentional way so that they work harmoniously. An example of this I have talked about before and use often is the combination of Turmeric and Black Pepper.


Another example of this that I have been reading on is the use of Passionflower and Saint John's Wort. The use of these two herbs together, enhances the anti-depressant action of Hypericum perforatum and the effects on synaptic uptake of serotonin (2).

So.. I have made a change to our Herbal Tincture for Grief Relief and added extract of Passiflora.

I'd love to hear more from people who use it regularly. No shame. I use it, myself.

Fun fact.. I am growing both of these powerful botanicals on my property <3


References:
1. https://www.thrombosisresearch.com/article/S0049-3848(05)00237-9/abstract
2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0367326X10003229
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21185920/ 

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