The Benefits of Passion Flower

Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and More

passion flower (passiflora incarnata)
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Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a plant that grows throughout the world. In herbal medicine, passion flower's aerial parts have long been used to treat certain health conditions.

Uses for Passion Flower

In alternative medicine, passion flower proponents claim the herb can help with the following:

Benefits of Passion Flower

To date, there is a lack of clinical evidence supporting any therapeutic use of passion flower.

However, preliminary research suggests that passion flower shows promise in treating two health problems.

1) Anxiety

In a study published in 2008, 60 patients were randomized to receive either passion flower or placebo 90 minutes prior to surgery. Study results showed that those receiving passion flower had lower levels of anxiety, leading researchers to conclude that oral administration of passion flower may reduce anxiety without inducing sedation.

In a systematic review published in 2007, however, the authors concluded that randomized controlled trials examining the effectiveness of passion flower for anxiety were too few to permit any conclusions to be drawn. A systematic review published in 2013 reached similar conclusions. It found that the studies of effects of products containing herbal preparations of Passiflora had crucial weaknesses, and new clinical trials should be conducted with more rigorous methodology.

Find out more about Natural Remedies for Anxiety.

2) Opiate Withdrawal

For a 2001 study, researchers assigned 65 opiates addicts to 14 days of treatment with passion flower extract plus clonidine (a medication used to treat withdrawal symptoms) or clonidine plus placebo. Study results showed that both options were equally effective in treating the physical symptoms of withdrawal syndromes.

However, the passion flower plus clonidine showed a significant superiority over clonidine alone in managing mental symptoms.

Further such studies on passion flower for opiate withdrawal are lacking. Reviews of the use of passion flower for withdrawal that were published in 2013 and 2015 cite only this single study.

Caveats

Although passion flower is generally considered safe, incidences of the following adverse effects have been reported:

  • rapid heart rhythm
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • impaired cognitive function

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of using passion flower supplements. 

Passion flower may produce harmful effects when combined with certain medications and substances (including benzodiazepines, anticoagulants, and alcohol).

Additionally, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend the safe use of passion flower in any dose during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety, and dietary supplements are largely unregulated.

In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. Explore further tips on using supplements. 

Using Passion Flower For Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend passion flower as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of passion flower, make sure to consult your doctor first. 

Sources:

Akhondzadeh S, Kashani L, Mobaseri M, Hosseini SH, Nikzad S, Khani M. "Passionflower in the treatment of opiates withdrawal: a double-blind randomized controlled trial." J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 26(5):369-73.

Miroddi M, Calapai G, Navarra M, Minciullo PL, Gangemi S. Passiflora incarnata L.: Ethnopharmacology, clinical application, safety and evaluation of clinical trials. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2013;150(3):791–804. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.09.047.

Miyasaka LS, Atallah AN, Soares BG. "Passiflora for anxiety disorder." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 24;(1):CD004518.

Movafegh A, Alizadeh R, Hajimohamadi F, Esfehani F, Nejatfar M. "Preoperative oral Passiflora incarnata reduces anxiety in ambulatory surgery patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study." Anesth Analg. 2008 106(6):1728-32.

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