Passionflower: An Herb for Relaxation & Beyond
Passionflower is a vining perennial native to the southern United States, Central America and South America. As a nervine herb, it’s known for having a gentle sedative effect on the body. Nervines are herbs that support and nourish the central nervous system. When life feels uncertain, exciting, and everything in between, nervine herbs like Passionflower can provide a sense of calm.
Among over 700 different species of Passifloraceae, Passiflora Incarnata is a favourite among Western Herbalists. It has a rich history of traditional use and is backed by modern research.
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care practitioner before adding any new herbs to your wellness routine.
Passionflower was given its Latin name in the 16th century when Spanish missionaries came across the plant in South America. They believed the features of the herb aligned with the story of the crucifixion. Over time, this herb became a tool for teaching the story of the “Passion of the Christ.” The plant’s five stamens represented the five wounds Jesus endured. The three styles aligned with the three nails on the cross, and the flower’s white and purple colors became a symbol of heaven.
Spanish missionaries and other European settlers shared the medicinal benefits of Passionflower throughout their travels. This allowed the herb to gain worldwide recognition by the 18th century.
Indigenous peoples have used Passionflower as food and medicine for centuries. The Cherokee people boil and fry the young shoots to consume with other edible herbs. It is predominantly used as a sedative, though also used as a poultice due to its anti-inflammatory properties¹.
Passionflower was also used by African American slave women to ease fear and anxiety when terminating pregnancy². The flower is not an abortifacient, but it does have anti-spasmodic properties that doctors of the 19th century took advantage of³. Passionflower was prescribed to soothe reproductive issues and respiratory ailments.
What the Research Says
One 2020 study gave subjects either a Passionflower extract or a placebo for two weeks while measuring sleep through a number of methods. The group that took the Passionflower extract showed a significant increase in total sleep time and sleep efficiency⁴. Taking the flower in the form of an herbal tea proved to result in better sleep quality for participants in a 2011 study⁵.
This herb is clearly an effective sleep aid, and it can also reduce anxiety. Its sedative compounds help reduce symptoms of panic attacks. Passionflower lowers pulse and blood pressure and slows rapid breathing. One study showed that 45 drops of Passionflower per day is just as effective as pharmaceutical medication when treating General Anxiety Disorder⁶.
While research is limited, studies show promising results for the use of Passionflower in treating ADHD. This is due to its ability to calm a racing mind and active body. Its lack of side effects compared to other pharmaceutical medications make Passionflower a choice herb for combating symptoms⁷.
Our Passionflower Offerings
We offer four different ways to add Passionflower to your routine.
- Our Dream Artisan Tea features Passionflower, Skullcap and Chamomile to help you drift off to dreamland.
- Our Feel Calm Tincture combines Passionflower, Skullcap and Valerian to alleviate nervous tension.
- We also offer a simple Passionflower Tincture. Our tinctures are crafted with organic or wild-harvested herbs and cane sugar alcohol.
- Find dried Organic Passionflower for multi-use purposes in our Botanical Dispensary.
Visit our Youtube Channel to access webinars that share an abundance of information on some of our favourite herbs and how to use them.
- Hamel, P., & Chiltoskey, M. (2002). Cherokee Plants: Their Uses-- A 400 Year History. Cherokee Publications.
- Gaspar, D., & Hine, D. (1996). More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas (Blacks in the Diaspora). Indiana University Press; First Edition.
- King, J., & Felter, H. W. (1909). King’s American Dispensatory (Vol. 1). Ohio Valley Company.
- Lee, J., Jung, H. Y., Lee, S. I., Choi, J. H., & Kim, S. G. (2020). Effects of Passiflora incarnata Linnaeus on polysomnographic sleep parameters in subjects with insomnia disorder. International Clinical Psychopharmacology, 35(1), 29–35. https://doi.org/10.1097/yic.0000000000000291
- Ngan, A., & Conduit, R. (2011). A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Investigation of the Effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) Herbal Tea on Subjective Sleep Quality. Phytotherapy Research, 25(8), 1153–1159. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.3400
- Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. (2001). Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 26(5):363-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2710.2001.00367.x.
- Akhondzadeh, S., Mohammadi, M. R., & Momeni, F. (2005). Passiflora incarnata in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Clinical Practice, 2(4), 609.
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