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This fact sheet provides basic information about passionflower—common names, what the science says, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information.
Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers learned of passionflower in Peru. Native peoples of the Americas used passionflower for boils, wounds, earaches, and liver problems. Today, passionflower is promoted as a folk or traditional remedy for anxiety, stress, and sleep, as well as for heart ailments, asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, burns, and hemorrhoids.
Passionflower is available dried (which can be used to make tea), or as liquid extract, capsules, or tablets.
What the Science Says
- Passionflower’s effect on anxiety has not been studied extensively. A 2009 systematic review of two studies that included 198 people compared the ability of passionflower and two drugs to reduce anxiety. It concluded that the three substances had about the same degree of minimal effectiveness.
- There is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about passionflower for cardiovascular conditions, asthma, hemorrhoids, burns, or sleep.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Passionflower is generally considered to be safe but may cause dizziness and confusion.
- Taking passionflower with a sedative may increase the risk of excessive sleepiness.
- Passionflower should not be used during pregnancy as it may induce contractions.
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, see NCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.
For More Information
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on NCCAM and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset.
PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset: ods.od.nih.gov/Research/PubMed_Dietary_Supplement_Subset.aspx
NIH National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus
- Grundmann O, Wang J, McGregor GP, et al. Anxiolytic activity of a phytochemically characterized Passiflora incarnata extract is mediated via the GABAergic system. Planta Medica. 2008;74(15):1769–1773.
- Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9(42):1–14.
- Miyasaka LS, Atallah AN, Soares B. Passiflora for anxiety disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2007(1):CD004518.
- Movafegh A, Alizadeh R, Hajimohamadi F, et al. Preoperative oral Passiflora incarnata reduces anxiety in ambulatory surgery patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Anesthesia & Analgesia. 2008;106(6):1728–1732.
- Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytotherapy Research. 2011;25(8):1153–1159.
- Passion Flower (Passiflora Incarnata L.). Natural Standard Database Web Site. Accessed at www.naturalstandard.com on September 10, 2012.
- Passionflower. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.com on September 10, 2012.
- Passionflower herb. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:293–296.
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