Natural remedies are increasingly becoming the go-to solution for many health conditions. Many people consider them safer, cheaper, and perhaps more effective than conventional medications. While the last claim is debatable, there is no doubt that natural solutions don't dent your wallet as much as regular medicines.
However, nature-based fixes typically require an informed audience. It's imperative that you learn about them because there's always a thin line between helpful and dubious claims.
So, in this article, we discuss the passion flower. We tell you how this plant with a storied history can help with various health conditions, when not to use it, the best ways to take it, and when to expect results.
- Passionflower is a plant with potential therapeutic properties. It’s been traditionally used to help promote sleep.
- It is a well-known anti-anxiety herbal, with numerous research studies supporting this claim.
- Passionflower may have side effects when used long-term.
- Avoid using passionflower products when pregnant, due for surgery, or with other medications.
What are the uses of passionflower?
Passionflower has been used extensively to treat wide-ranging health conditions for a long time. In fact, it was named as such by Spanish missionaries who likened its appearance to the biblical story of the Passion of the Christ. This was way back in the 1500s when the missionaries came across the plant for the first time in Peru.
Scientifically known as Passiflora incarnata, the passionflower has been used to treat various diseases and health conditions for centuries. Even though it is mostly popular for its sleep-inducing properties, passion flower shows potential therapeutic effects on wide-ranging health problems.
In the medical realm, the jury is still out on whether passionflower can treat certain conditions. Obviously, it will take extensive research before we can be certain of the full range of passionflower's medicinal value. But there is good reason to believe this herb has a few therapeutic benefits.
Let's find out which areas of your health this plant can help.
Is Passionflower good for sleep?
Traditionally, passionflower has been used as a sedative in central, south, and southeastern America. The natives in these regions brewed tea with fresh or dried passionflower leaves to make a sedative. The Europeans who later came to these lands subsequently adopted this practice.
Various scientific inquiries have established similar results. For instance, a study published in the journal of Phytotherapy Research showed improvement in sleep quality among participants who took herbal tea with purple passionflower for seven days. This leads to the conclusion that this herb may help alleviate some symptoms of sleep problems.
These findings were corroborated by a 2017 animal study investigating the effects of passionflower extract on sleep. The results showed that the administration of passionflower extract (500 mg/kg) to rats coincided with increased total sleep time. Similarly, there was a substantial decrement in wakefulness and time spent in REM sleep.
A recent investigation on the effects of passionflower on insomnia revealed similar findings. One hundred and ten adults (110) with insomnia were divided into two cohorts. One group was treated with passionflower extract, while the other with placebo for two weeks.
Comparisons between the two groups affirmed the tried-and-tested sleep-promoting qualities of passion flower. The passion flower extract group recorded better sleep efficiency and longer total sleep times compared to the placebo group.
Based on empirical data and experiences from traditional use, Passiflora extracts may help reduce tenseness, irritability, and restlessness associated with difficulty falling asleep. Indeed, products with passion flower, hops, and valerian have demonstrated the ability to improve sleep just as well as regular sleep medications, e.g., zolpidem.
Does Passion Flower help anxiety
The passion flower contains bioactive compounds called flavonoids. These are believed to be the secrets behind its healing powers. In particular, passion flower's anxiolytic properties are attributed to the flavonoids benzoflavone and chrysin, which it has in large quantities.
These two compounds are thought to mediate the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This neurotransmitter reduces excitability in the brain's neurons resulting in a calming effect. In fact, passion flower's sedative effect is so strong it's been compared to conventional anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines.
A study found that taking passion flower extract led to significantly higher dopamine levels. Dopamine and GABA are involved in various bodily functions, including sleep, mood (a sense of happiness), and emotional processing.
Further, a 2017 study published in the journal of Anesthesia and Analgesia suggests that passion flower may relieve anxiety. The trial's results indicated that patients scheduled for surgery displayed fewer anxiety symptoms after consuming it.
A 2018 review of various herbal medicines used to treat psychiatric conditions suggested the availability of "high-quality" evidence supporting the effectiveness of passion flower in managing anxiety disorders.
However, this is a plant you should exercise great caution when taking because it may disrupt motor and mental functions in large doses.
What are the side effects of passion flower
Natural fixes are generally safe for most people, with few reported cases of adverse reactions. Be that as it may, there is still need to be cautious when using herbals. As they say, too much of anything is dangerous.
It is not advisable to use passion flower long term, i.e., for more than eight weeks. If you take it as part of your nighttime routine, you should not go beyond two months. Similarly, it is possibly unsafe when taken in large doses orally.
That’s because passionflower contains potentially toxic compounds called alkaloids. Though these only exist in trace amounts in the plant, their presence suggests that taking a lot of passion flower, either in terms of time or dosage, could be harmful. That’s why long-term studies are needed to evaluate this plant’s safety profile.
That said, it appears passion flower may cause unwanted effects such as confusion, drowsiness, and dizziness. Other potential side effects are vomiting, nausea, and rapid heartbeat.
When to avoid taking Passion flower
Even though research is underway to establish the full range of passion flower’s side effects, it may not be recommended for use by people with the following conditions:
Pregnant women should probably avoid taking passion flower because it may induce premature contractions. The herb may stimulate the uterus and cause “false” labor.
The same applies to breastfeeding mothers. Not enough is known about the effects of passionflower on lactating moms. So, stay on the safe side by avoiding products with passion flower extracts.
People due for surgical procedures are also advised to keep off passion flower supplements for at least two weeks before the operation. That’s because its bioactive ingredients may react with the anesthesia or other medications used during and after the procedure.
Also, passion flower may heighten the effects of anesthesia and affect the central nervous system by slowing it down.
When Combining with Other Sedatives
Sleep-causing medications are called sedatives. Since passion flower also has sedative properties, there is reason to believe that taking it with other sedatives might heighten the effects to dangerous levels, possibly causing excessive sleepiness.
So, if you are on the following medications, avoid passion flower.
People on anti-inflammatory drugs or blood thinners are also advised to stay away from passion flower. These can potentially interact with the herb. Even certain herbals like valerian root and kava may interact with passion flower. So, don’t mix these.
Alcohol, aspirin, and caffeine are also a no-no, as they do not go well with passion flower use.
Also, if you are new to this herb, it is advisable not to drive or operate heavy machinery until you understand its effects on you. Passion flower can induce drowsiness and confusion.
Keep in mind also that herbal and natural supplements are not regulated. Therefore, there is no guarantee regarding their safety and efficacy.
How Long Does Passion Flower Take to Work
Like most herbals, the effects of passion flower do not kick in immediately. Naturally, the duration it takes to feel its benefits varies depending on dosage and mode of administration.
For instance, when taken orally, passion flower’s anxiolytic effects can be felt within 30-90 minutes. That’s why it works well in reducing dental anxiety. In fact, it’s been labeled as effective as some conventional medicines given to patients before undergoing certain medical procedures.
In another trial exploring the effectiveness of passion flower as an anti-anxiety medication, the results established that 45 drops of passion flower extract per day were as effective as 30 milligrams of oxazepam per day for four weeks.
For sleep problems like insomnia, clinical trials indicate that it might take at least seven days to experience the effects. Recall that it is not advisable to take passion flower extract for more than two months, regardless of the condition you are managing.
Passion flower dosage recommendations
The main concern with dosing guidelines for herbals is that they are estimates. Most of the time, you have to trial and error before getting the correct dosage. This is why it is extremely important to consult a qualified medical professional before using such.
That said, the dosing for passion flower may also depend on the form in which it is used. For example, if you are taking it as an infusion, the recommended dose is 2.5 grams, 3-4 times a day.
You can do 4 to 8 grams of dried herb daily brewed in teas. Ten to thirty drops a day are adequate if using passion flower liquid extract. As regards tinctures, 10 to 60 drops daily are the recommended dosage.
For anxiety, preliminary research shows that 45-90 mg of passion flower extract three times daily for 2 to 8 weeks is potentially effective.
Note: these are merely guidelines, not prescriptions. Read the product’s label and discuss with the doctor the correct dosage for your condition. Of course, share with your doctor any vital information, e.g., if you are using other remedies or medications.
Best ways to take Passion flower
There are several ways to take passion flower. You can boil dried passion flower leaves to make herbal tea. This method ensures you know the correct amount of passion flower you take.
You can also opt for prepackaged passionflower tea available at health food stores. In the US, passion flower is available in capsule, oil, or extract forms. Though convenient, knowing the exact ingredients used to make such products is difficult.
Besides passion flower, there are other products made with natural plant extracts that can help you sleep. For example, our Rest sleep support tincture combines the healing powers of full-spectrum cannabidiol (CBD), cannabinol (CBN), passionflower, linden flower, lavender, Chinese herbs, and Schisandra fruit. It is formulated to calm the mind and help you fall and stay asleep so you wake feeling well-rested and rejuvenated.