Passion fruit's Relationship with Humans
This plant exhibits various pharmacological properties and possesses a complex phytochemistry. Most of the pharmacological investigations of P. edulis have been addressed to its central nervous system (CNS) activities, such as anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and sedative actions. In several preclinical experiments, P. edulis extracts have exhibited potential effects for the treatment of inflammation, pain, and insomnia as well as for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, hypertension, and cancer (Spencer and Seigler, 1983). Several mechanisms, including the inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines, enzyme (myeloperoxidase) and mediators (bradykinin, histamine, substance P, nitric oxide) release and/or action, appear to account for P. edulis’s actions. The leaves and stems of P. edulis have shown antinociceptive, antitumor, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities (Patel, 2009). This plant-based, traditional medicine system still acquires an important place in the health care system. The pulp of the fruit acts as a stimulant and tonic. The putative clinical efficacy of P. edulis has been evaluated for the treatment of a variety of diseases, but the current most common use in clinical practice is in the treatment of anxiety and sleep disorders. P. edulis has been used as an ethnic remedy for the cure of numerous infectious disorders of bacterial, fungal, viral, mycobacterium, and protozoal origin. Although a variety of other preparations are available, dried extracts are the most important product derived from P. edulis. Many practitioners actually use P. edulis extracts alone or in combination with other herbal medicines to treat depression and insomnia in a wide range of patients (Newall et al., 1996; Zhou et al., 2008). This chapter aims to evaluate and comment on the scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic use and basis for future research on P. edulis, and its real potential for the development of the market for herbal medicinal products; to summarize the chemical constituents of therapeutic preparations; to analyze the pharmacological aspects of the plant by examining both preclinical and clinical research, and to assess the toxicity and safety profile.