What is Passion Flower Extract?
The passion flower is part of the Passiflora family, which includes the passion fruit. It is tropical-looking with an elegant flower that eventually transforms into a large, fleshy fruit. People have used it since the early 16th century for medicinal purposes (x).
Today, you can take passion flower extract by mouth for sleep problems, anxiety issues, adjustment disorder, ADHD, pain and even heart failure. People also use it as flavoring for food and beverages. Moreover, you can apply it directly to the skin for hemorrhoids, burns and swelling. Although passion flower is completely natural, it is not considered an over-the-counter supplement. Overall, it is mostly known for its calming, sleep-inducing and muscle spasm relieving effects.
Where Does it Come From?
The passion flower is native to Central and South America and the southeastern United States. It was first discovered by the Peruvians and later adopted by Spanish explorers (x). In fact, its name came from the final period of Jesus’ life, “the Passion.” People still use the herb in many parts of the world today for a variety of purposes.
What Is Extracted?
Like other flower and plant type supplements, only parts of the entire plant are used for extraction. In the case of the passion flower, however, most of the plant (at least the parts that grow above ground) is usable, including the stem, leaves and flower buds. For the most potency, the passion flower is typically harvested in the early stage of flowering. The components are then rolled, pressed, steamed, boiled and combined with liquid to create the extract. The extract is fragrant and can be used topically or orally and added to food or beverages.
Passion Flower Extract Benefits
There are all types of anxiety; anxiety before going into surgery, daily anxiety, anxiety before taking a test or performing at work. Whichever type of anxiety you face, passion flower extract could help.
Scientists gave 60 individuals passion flower when they were about to undergo surgery. They found that it significantly decreased anxiety without side effects, sedation or effects on muscle activity (x). In a similar study, passion flower was compared to the typically used benzodiazepine ‘oxazepam,’ which is used for generalized anxiety disorder. Ultimately, they found that both treatments were equally as effective, with the oxazepam working faster, but the passion flower having fewer harmful side effects (x).
Passion flower extract has an overall calming effect on the mind and other parts of the body. This is due to its ability to boost gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Studies have observed its overall calming effects in the brain, allowing sleep to occur more quickly, calming the intestines during an upset stomach and enhancing one’s overall mood (x).
Other Benefits and Uses
When most people think of calming, they think of sleep, which is why it is no surprise that another benefit of passion flower extract is to improve your sleep. Research concludes that one can use it as an effective sleep inducer (x). While there are prescription and over-the-counter drugs available to induce sleep, side effects of these medications can include amnesia, hallucinations, sleepwalking and increased risk for depression. Passion flower, on the other hand, once again has the same effects as “Z” drugs, but without the undesired side effects (x).
Passion Flower Side Effects
Drowsiness, Dizziness and Confusion
Although passion flower does not typically cause hallucinations or depression, the supplement does have some side effects of its own. The most common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness and confusion. This is most likely due to the passion flower’s effects of significantly calming the mind and body. You should be mindful of this when taking it. Avoid this supplement if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or before surgery. Always consult your doctor first, even before using it in an herbal tea (x).
Passion Flower Extract Dosage
When supplementing with passion flower extract, take 1,000 mg daily with food, or as directed by a physician. Talk to a doctor before adding this supplement to your regimen, however, and be sure to follow their specific instructions.
Interactions With Passion Flower Extract
As if the passion flower isn’t sleepy and calming enough, it is best not to take it with other sedative medications. In addition to calming the mind, it may cause sleepiness, dizziness or drowsiness, which means in combination with sedatives, you may become too sleepy. Some common sedatives to consider avoiding with passion flower are Nembutal, Luminal, Seconal, Klonopin, Ativan and Ambien, to name a few. Before taking any medication or herbal supplement, you should always consult with your doctor first.
Why Take Passion Flower Extract?
Simply put, passion flower gives you peace of mind. The flower is anxiety-calming and sleep-inducing, giving your brain the break it needs. Combined with other herbal remedies and supplements, passion flower could also create an even deeper, restorative sleep and sense of relaxation. People who are commonly stressed from work, are having trouble sleeping or experience daily anxiety from a number of triggers should consider passion flower.
The Bottom Line
Passion flower is capable of treating a number of health conditions — your heart, your brain and your body can all reap its many benefits. It has been used for centuries, and there’s a reason for that. Consider adding this supplement to your daily regimen to reap its rewards.