The term passion flower encompasses a genus of plants that includes more than 400 different species. Passiflora incarnata is one species in this genus, and is sometimes called “true passion flower.” This is one of the most common passion flower species and the one that’s usually being referred to when people speak of passion flower. The passion flower genus is also home to passion fruit, a fruit commonly used as a flavoring in fruit punch drinks.
Passion flower was first discovered by European explorers in 1569 in Peru. The Europeans believed the passion flower symbolized the passion of Christ, thus leading to its name. Passiflora incarnata is native to the southeastern United States. This quick-growing perennial vine can climb up to twelve feet high. The vine features complex and strange-looking, yet beautiful, flowers. Passion flower has been utilized since pre-colonial times as a calming herb, useful for anxiety and occasional trouble sleeping.
What is Passion Flower Used For?
Soothing passion flower was originally marketed as a sleep aid and sedative in the United States, but was taken off the market in 1978 due to lack of proof of its benefits. However, it has since returned and regained popularity, and modern scientific research supports the use of passion flower as a calming agent. Researchers believe that the herb produces a calming effect by supporting healthy levels of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is a chemical that prevents certain areas of your brain from becoming over-active, helping to soothe anxiety and feelings of stress. Passion flower is commonly found in supplement blends along with other beneficial herbs.
Before tests were done on humans, researchers found that Passiflora incarnata decreased anxiety symptoms in mice and helped rats sleep better. One of the most human notable studies proving the calming effects of Passiflora incarnata was performed on 36 patients who had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. Some of these patients were given 45 drops of passion flower extract daily for four weeks. After four weeks, researchers found that the passion flower supplement was about as effective as a common anti-anxiety drug. Plus, the pharmaceutical drug used in the study impaired job performance while passion flower did not. Another study conducted with 91 patients found that passion flower was proven to be more effective than placebo.
Because passion flower has a significant calming effect, it makes a great herbal supplement for those experiencing anxiety, occasional trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, or stress. It can help you get a good night’s sleep, promotes a healthy mood, and helps soothe feelings of anxiety. Its stress-reducing properties can also be good news for your overall health. Keeping stress levels to a minimum reduces your risk of many diseases and also improves your libido.
Using Passion Flower Safely
Passion flower has not been rigorously studied, and there are no official dosing guidelines. Passion flower can be drunk as an herbal tea, taken as an extract or tincture, or taken in pill form. When taking passion flower as a tea, three or four cups a day is the most common dosage. For extracts and tinctures, doses have been studied between 10 and 45 drops three times a day. It is recommended to not go over these doses until you know how passion flower affects you.
For some people, passion flower can cause side effects like dizziness, lack of muscle coordination and confusion. It is also possible to be allergic to passion flower. Don’t take passion flower if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have a medical condition or are taking medication, always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplement.
Soothing passion flower is safe and pleasant to use for most people. Using it to help relieve anxiety, for occasional trouble sleeping, or stress can greatly improve your quality of life.