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What are the Medicinal Uses of Passiflora Incarnata?

By Angela Williams Duea
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Passiflora incarnata, known by the common name passionflower, is a perennial vine that grows in Central America and throughout the southern United States. The vine produces large, fragrant flowers of purple, yellow, and white, and then produces an edible green fruit. As a home herbal remedy, passiflora incarnata is used throughout the world to control anxiety and insomnia, lower blood pressure, and ease neuralgia. Recent scientific studies have also isolated several chemicals in the herb which may help fight cancer, Parkinson’s disease, leukemia, HIV, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

The leaves and stems of the plant have been used for centuries as a natural calming medicine. Certain alkaloids and flavonoids in passiflora incarnata can provide relief from anxiety, panic attacks, sleeplessness, restlessness, hysteria, and hyperactivity. This non-addictive herbal remedy also slightly lowers arterial pressure and increases respiration, which can reduce tension and nervousness. Native people have used this herb’s calming effects to help people overcome the stress and physical discomfort of overcoming addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Passiflora incarnata can calm over-stimulated nerves, especially the spinal cord motor nerves, making the herb an excellent remedy for back pain and the nerve pain caused by shingles and herpes. It also acts as an antispasmodic, reducing smooth muscle spasms. This makes it an ideal homeopathic medicine to relieve premenstrual cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, and pain from overworked muscles. Scientists are researching the plant’s anticonvulsant action for use in treating epilepsy and bipolar disorders.

A tea made from one or two tablespoons (15-30 ml) of dried leaves, flowers, and stems is a soothing tonic for nerves and pain. The tea can be strained and bottled for later use. One-half cup (120 ml) of dried herb can also be simmered in one cup (240 ml) of flaxseed or safflower oil, strained, and taken one or two tablespoonfuls (15-30 ml) at a time. An extract from the whole plant is used to make a pill supplement; a common dose is 200 mg per day, as needed.

There are few side effects from the use of passiflora incarnata, but pregnant women should check with a doctor before adding the supplement to their diets. The plant may aggravate certain medical conditions related to high testosterone, such as excess hair growth, aggression, and prostate problems. Most people, however, will find it a relaxing, gentle home herbal remedy.

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Discussion Comments

By fify — On Feb 04, 2014

@fBoyle-- I use a passionflower/ passiflora incarnata extract supplement in capsule form. It works just fine, so I don't think that the method of use changes its effectiveness too much. Although I'm sure that the herb, tincture or product should be relatively fresh for best results. And always follow the dosage directions.

By fBoyle — On Feb 03, 2014

@fBoyle-- Yes, I use passiflora for anxiety. It's very effective and it works within minutes, literally. I think that passiflora is the best thing out there for anxiety. It doesn't have side effects and it doesn't interact negatively with anything. It also doesn't cause addiction. Can it get better than this?

My passiflora is in tincture form. It comes in a glass bottle. I buy it from a herbal supplement company and take one tablespoon when I'm anxious or upset. I feel the effects immediately. I feel relaxed and when I take it before bedtime, it helps me fall asleep.

I actually would like to know if all forms of passiflora are equally effective. So far, I've only tried the tincture which works great, but I would prefer using it in a different form because the tincture has alcohol and I don't drink alcohol normally. I know that I can get passiflora incarnata seeds extract in capsules, or dried loose flowers and leaves. But I don't know if these will work equally well.

By Sporkasia — On Feb 03, 2014

Animandel - Thanks for your input. I will definitely keep those side effects in mind. Actually, what interest me most about the passiflora incarnata herb is that it might be effective in fighting or treating diseases like cancer, Parkinson's and HIV. Think how many people can benefit from any product that can help in these areas of disease treatment.

By donasmrs — On Feb 02, 2014

Does anyone here use the passiflora incarnata herb for anxiety and panic? Does it work for you? How long does it take to see effects? And where do you get your passiflora?

By Animandel — On Feb 02, 2014

Sporkasia - I have a friend who swears by passiflora incarnata extract as a way to combat her anxiety and general nervousness. She tends to worry about everything and finds that passion flower products help her remain calm. However, you have to be careful not to take too much.

The herb can actually work as a sedative to the point of causing sleep with some people regardless of the amount consumed, and other people may become sleepy when taking heavy doses of the herb. Also, anxiety and depression sometimes go hand in hand, and anyone with depression symptoms should be careful because passion flower can increase lethargy.

By Sporkasia — On Feb 01, 2014

Passion flowers are beautiful when in bloom. I have enjoyed their beauty for years. However, I knew of none of the health uses for the plant. From time to time, my grandparents drank teas made from the flower. They probably knew of some of the medicinal attributes of the plant and the tea, but somehow I missed the memo.

I'm going to do a bit more research and maybe buy passiflora incarnata as a diet supplement.

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