What is it?
Passionflower is used for sleep problems (insomnia), gastrointestinal (GI) upset related to anxiety or nervousness, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal.
Passionflower is also used for seizures, hysteria, asthma, symptoms of menopause, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness and excitability, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, and pain relief.
Some people apply passionflower to the skin for hemorrhoids, burns, and pain and swelling (inflammation).
In foods and beverages, passionflower extract is used as a flavoring.
In 1569, Spanish explorers discovered passionflower in Peru. They believed the flowers symbolized Christ’s passion and indicated his approval for their exploration. Passionflower is found in combination herbal products used as a sedative for promoting calmness and relaxation. Other herbs contained in these products include German chamomile, hops, kava, skullcap, and valerian.
Passionflower was formerly approved as an over-the-counter sedative and sleep aid in the U.S., but it was taken off the market in 1978 because safety and effectiveness had not been proven. However, passionflower may still be available alone or in combination with other herbal products.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for PASSIONFLOWER are as follows:
Possibly effective for...
- Anxiety. There is some evidence that passionflower can reduce symptoms of anxiety, sometimes as effectively as some prescription medications.
- Relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal, when used in combination with a medication called clonidine. This combination seems to be effective in reducing symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, sleep problems (insomnia), and agitation. However, passionflower plus clonidine is no better than clonidine alone for physical symptoms such as tremor and nausea.
- Relieving symptoms of a psychiatric disorder known as “adjustment disorder with anxious mood” when used in a multi-ingredient product (Euphytose, EUP). Other herbs in the product are crataegus, ballota, and valerian, which have mild sedative effects, and cola and paullinia, which have stimulant effects. It’s not clear, though, which ingredient or ingredients in the mix are responsible for decreasing anxiety.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia). Some preliminary research suggests that drinking a passionflower tea an hour before bedtime might help improve feelings of sleep quality. However, this did not seem to improve the time it takes to fall asleep, the number of awakenings at night, or refreshed feelings upon awakening in the morning.
- Nervous stomach.
- Heart problems.
- High blood pressure.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Passionflower can cause some side effects such as dizziness, confusion, irregular muscle action and coordination, altered consciousness, and inflamed blood vessels. There has also been a report of nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, a rapid heart rate, and abnormal heart rhythm in one person who took it.
There isn’t enough information to rate the safety of passionflower when applied to the skin.
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take passionflower if you are pregnant. It is UNSAFE. There are some chemicals in passionflower that might cause the uterus to contract.
Not enough is known about the safety of taking passionflower during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and don’t use it.
Surgery: Passionflower can affect the central nervous system. It might increase the effects of anesthesia and other medications on the brain during and after surgery. Stop taking passionflower at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
- Passionflower may have blood pressure-lowering effects. Taking passionflower along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
- Passionflower might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking passionflower along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
Some sedative medications include pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- Herbs and supplements that might cause sleepiness and drowsiness
- Passionflower can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Using it along with other herbs that have the same effect, might cause too much sleepiness and drowsiness. Some of these herbs and supplements include 5-HTP, calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John's wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.
- Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure
- Passionflower might lower blood pressure. Using it along with other herbs or supplements that have the same effect might cause your blood pressure to go too low. Some of these herbs and supplements include andrographis, casein peptides, cat's claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
What dose is used?
- For generalized anxiety disorder (GAD):
- 45 drops of passionflower liquid extract daily.
- A specific tablet formulation 90 mg/day has also been used.
- For reducing symptoms associated with narcotic drug withdrawal: 60 drops of passionflower liquid extract in combination with 0.8 mg of clonidine.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
- Congura M. Isolement et identification de deux glycosyl-luteolines mono-C-substituees et de la diglucosyl-6-8-luteoline di-C-substituee dans les tiges feuillees de
- Quercia V, Turchetto L, Pierini V, and et al. Identification and determination of vitexin and isovitexin in Passiflora incarnata extracts. J Chromatogr. 1978;161:396-402.
- Capasso A and Pinto A. Experimental investigations of the synergistic-sedative effect of passiflora and kava. Acta Therapeutica 1995;21:127-140.
- Von Eiff M, Brunner H, Haegeli A, and et al. Hawthorn / passion flower extract and improvement in physical exercise capacity of patients with dyspnoea Class II of the NYHA functional classifications. Acta Therapeutica 1994;20:47-66.
- Soulimani, R., Younos, C., Jarmouni, S., Bousta, D., Misslin, R., and Mortier, F. Behavioural effects of Passiflora incarnata L. and its indole alkaloid and flavonoid derivatives and maltol in the mouse. J Ethnopharmacol. 1997;57:11-20. View abstract.
- Smith, G. W., Chalmers, T. M., and Nuki, G. Vasculitis associated with herbal preparation containing Passiflora extract. Br J Rheumatol. 1993;32:87-88. View abstract.
- Yaniv, R., Segal, E., Trau, H., Auslander, S., and Perel, A. Natural premedication for mast cell proliferative disorders. J Ethnopharmacol. 1995;46:71-72. View abstract.
- Spencer, K. C. and Seigler, D. S. Cyanogenesis of Passiflora edulis. J Agric.Food Chem 1983;31:794-796. View abstract.
- Birner, J. and Nicolls, J. M. Passicol, an antibacterial and antifungal agent produced by Passiflora plant species: preparation and physicochemical characteristics. Antimicrob.Agents Chemother 1973;3:105-109. View abstract.
- Rickels, K. and Hesbacher, P. T. Over-the-counter daytime sedatives. A controlled study. JAMA 1-1-1973;223:29-33. View abstract.
- Saenz, J. A. and Nassar, M. Toxic effect of the fruit of Passiflora adenopoda D. C. on humans: phytochemical determination. Rev.Biol Trop. 1972;20:137-140. View abstract.
- Karaki, H., Kishimoto, T., Ozaki, H., Sakata, K., Umeno, H., and Urakawa, N. Inhibition of calcium channels by harmaline and other harmala alkaloids in vascular and intestinal smooth muscles. Br J Pharmacol. 1986;89:367-375. View abstract.
- Menghini, A. and Mancini, L. A. TLC determination of flavonoid accumulation in clonal populations of Passiflora incarnata L. Pharmacol.Res Commun. 1988;20(suppl 5):113-116. View abstract.
- Perry, N. B., Albertson, G. D., Blunt, J. W., Cole, A. L., Munro, M. H., and Walker, J. R. 4-Hydroxy-2-cyclopentenone: an anti-Pseudomonas and cytotoxic component from Passiflora tetrandra. Planta Med 1991;57:129-131. View abstract.
- Gerhard, U., Hobi, V., Kocher, R., and Konig, C. [Acute sedatiing effect of a herbal tranquilizer compared to that of bromazepam]. Schweiz.Rundsch.Med.Prax. 12-27-1991;80:1481-1486. View abstract.
- Nassiri-Asl, M., Shariati-Rad, S., and Zamansoltani, F. Anticonvulsant effects of aerial parts of Passiflora incarnata extract in mice: involvement of benzodiazepine and opioid receptors. BMC.Complement Altern Med 2007;7:26. View abstract.
- Dhawan, K. and Sharma, A. Antitussive activity of the methanol extract of Passiflora incarnata leaves. Fitoterapia 2002;73:397-399. View abstract.
- Dhawan, K., Kumar, S., and Sharma, A. Comparative biological activity study on Passiflora incarnata and P. edulis. Fitoterapia 2001;72:698-702. View abstract.
- Mourvaki, E., Gizzi, S., Rossi, R., and Rufini, S. Passionflower fruit-a "new" source of lycopene? J Med Food 2005;8:104-106. View abstract.
- Wolfman, C., Viola, H., Paladini, A., Dajas, F., and Medina, J. H. Possible anxiolytic effects of chrysin, a central benzodiazepine receptor ligand isolated from Passiflora coerulea. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1994;47:1-4. View abstract.
- Brown, E., Hurd, N. S., McCall, S., and Ceremuga, T. E. Evaluation of the anxiolytic effects of chrysin, a Passiflora incarnata extract, in the laboratory rat. AANA.J 2007;75:333-337. View abstract.
- Mahady, G. B., Pendland, S. L., Stoia, A., Hamill, F. A., Fabricant, D., Dietz, B. M., and Chadwick, L. R. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to botanical extracts used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Phytother.Res 2005;19:988-991. View abstract.
- Capasso A., Sorrentino L. Pharmacological studies on the sedative and hypnotic effect of Kava kava and Passiflora extracts combination. Phytomedicine. 2005;12:39-45. View abstract.
- Speroni E., Minghetti A. Neuropharmacological activity of extracts from Passiflora incarnata. Planta Med. 1988;54:488-91. View abstract.
- Ichimura T., Yamanaka A., Ichiba T., et al. Antihypertensive effect of an extract of Passiflora edulis rind in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2006 Mar;70:718-21. View abstract.
- Von Eiff M, Brunner H, Haegeli A, et al. Hawthorn / passion flower extract and improvement in physical exercise capacity of patients with dyspnoea Class II of the NYHA functional classifications. Acta Therapeutica 1994;20:47-66.
- 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;25:1153-9. View abstract.
- Miyasaka LS, Atallah AN, Soares BG. Passiflora for anxiety disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007;:CD004518. View abstract.
- Mori A, Hasegawa K, Murasaki M, et al. Clinical evaluation of Passiflamin (passiflora extract) on neurosis - multicenter double blind study in comparison with mexazolam. Rinsho Hyoka (Clinical Evaluation) 1993;21:383-440.
- Gralla EJ, Stebbins RB, Coleman GL, Delahunt CS. Toxicity studies with ethyl maltol. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 1969;15:604-13. View abstract.
- Aoyagi N, Kimura R, Murata T. Studies on passiflora incarnata dry extract. I. Isolation of maltol and pharmacological action of maltol and ethyl maltol. Chem Pharm Bull 1974;22:1008-13. View abstract.
- Farnsworth N, Bingel A, Cordell G, et al. Potential value of plants as sources of new antifertility agents I. J Pharm Sci 1975;64:535-98. View abstract.
- Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A. Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus. J Ethnopharmacol 2001;78:165-70.. View abstract.
- Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A. Anxiolytic activity of aerial and underground parts of Passiflora incarnata. Fitoterapia 2001;72:922-6.. View abstract.
- Medina JH, Paladini AC, Wolfman C, et al. Chrysin (5,7-di-OH-flavone), a naturally-occurring ligand for benzodiazepine receptors, with anticonvulsant properties. Biochem Pharmacol 1990;40:2227-31. View abstract.
- Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Shayeganpour A, et al. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther 2001;26:363-7. View abstract.
- Fisher AA, Purcell P, Le Couteur DG. Toxicity of Passiflora incarnata L. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2000;38:63-6. View abstract.
- Bourin M, Bougerol T, Guitton B, Broutin E. A combination of plant extracts in the treatment of outpatients with adjustment disorder with anxious mood: controlled study vs placebo. Fundam Clin Pharmacol 1997;11:127-32. View abstract.
- Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid= 786bafc6f6343634fbf79fcdca7061e1&rgn=div5&view= text&node=21:126.96.36.199.13&idno=21
- Rommelspacher H, May T, Salewski B. (1-methyl-beta-carboline) is a natural inhibitor of monoamine oxidase type A in rats. Eur J Pharmacol 1994;252:51-9.. View abstract.
- Salgueiro JB, Ardenghi P, Dias M, et al. Anxiolytic natural and synthetic flavonoid ligands of the central benzodiazepine receptor have no effect on memory tasks in rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1997;58:887-91. View abstract.
- Akhondzadeh S, Kashani L, Mobaseri M, et al. Passionflower in the treatment of opiates withdrawal: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther 2001;25:369-73. View abstract.
- Solbakken AM, Rorbakken G, Gundersen T. [Nature medicine as intoxicant]. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 1997;117:1140-1. View abstract.
- Foster S, Tyler VE. Tyler's Honest Herbal, 4th ed., Binghamton, NY: Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.
- Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for Herbal Medicines. 1st ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.
- Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.
- Schulz V, Hansel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. Terry C. Telger, transl. 3rd ed. Berlin, GER: Springer, 1998.
- The Review of Natural Products by Facts and Comparisons. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Co., 1999.
- Newall CA, Anderson LA, Philpson JD. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London, UK: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.
- Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994.
- Monographs on the medicinal uses of plant drugs. Exeter, UK: European Scientific Co-op Phytother, 1997.