Passionflower—Ancient Herbal Remedy Used for Calming the Body

How Much Do We Know?
Passionflower—Ancient Herbal Remedy Used for Calming the Body
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Common Names: passionflower, maypop, apricot vine, maracuja, water lemon
Latin Names: Passiflora incarnata


  • Passionflower is a climbing vine that is native to the southeastern United States and Central and South America.
  • Native peoples of the Americas used passionflower as a sedative. Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers in South America learned of passionflowers. The plant was then brought to Europe, where it became widely cultivated and was introduced to European folk medicine.
  • Today, passionflower is promoted as a dietary supplement for anxiety and sleep problems, as well as for pain, heart rhythm problems, menopausal symptoms, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is applied to the skin for burns and to treat hemorrhoids.

How Much Do We Know?

  • Passionflower’s effect on anxiety and other conditions hasn’t been studied extensively.

What Have We Learned?

  • A small amount of research suggests that passionflower might help to reduce nonspecific anxiety and anxiety before a surgical or dental procedure, but conclusions are not definite.
  • There is not enough evidence to say whether passionflower is helpful for any other health conditions, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, congestive heart failure, insomnia, and stress.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • Up to 800 mg daily of a dried alcoholic extract of passionflower has been used with apparent safety in studies lasting up to 8 weeks, but it may cause drowsiness, confusion, and uncoordinated movement (ataxia) in some people. Passionflower used in excessive amounts (e.g., 3.5 grams of a specific extract over a 2-day period) may be unsafe.
  • Whether it’s safe to use passionflower topically (on the skin) is not known.
  • Passionflower should not be used during pregnancy as it may induce uterine contractions. Little is known about whether it’s safe to use passionflower while breastfeeding.

Keep in Mind

  • Take charge of your health—talk with your healthcare providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.
"Passionflower was originally published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a part of the National Institutes of Health."
A part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH is the largest biomedical research agency in the world.