Native to southeastern parts of the Americas, passionflower is now grown throughout Europe. It is a perennial climbing vine with herbaceous shoots and a sturdy woody stem that grows to a length of nearly 10 meters (about 32 feet). Each flower has 5 white petals and 5 sepals that vary in color from magenta to blue. According to folklore, passionflower got its name because its corona resembles the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The passionflower's ripe fruit is an egg-shaped berry that may be yellow or purple. Some kinds of passionfruit are edible.
The above-ground parts (flowers, leaves, and stems) of the passionflower are used for medicinal purposes.
Available forms include the following:
- Liquid extracts
How to Take ItPediatric
No studies have examined the effects of passionflower in children, so DO NOT give passionflower to a child without a doctor's supervision. Adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child's weight.Adult
Speak to your doctor for specific recommendations for your condition.
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider.
DO NOT take passionflower if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
For others, passionflower is generally considered to be safe and nontoxic in recommended doses and for less than 2 months at a time.
Passionflower may interact with the following medications:
Sedatives (drugs that cause sleepiness)
Because of its calming effect, passionflower may make the effects of sedative medications stronger. These medications include:
- Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium)
- Drugs for insomnia, such as zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), eszopiclone (Lunesta), ramelteon (Rozerem)
- Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), amoxapine, doxepin (Sinequan), and nortriptyline (Pamelor)
Antiplatelets and anticoagulants (blood thinners)
Passionflower may increase the amount of time blood needs to clot, so it could make the effects of blood-thinning medications stronger and increase your risk of bleeding. Blood-thinning drugs include:
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors or MAOIs)
MAO inhibitors are an older class of antidepressants that are not often prescribed now. Theoretically, passionflower might increase the effects of MAOIs, as well as their side effects, which can be dangerous. These drugs include:
- Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
- Phenelzine (Nardil)
- Tranylcypromine (Parnate)
Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001;26:369-373.
Akhondzadeh S. Passionflower in the treatment of opiates withdrawal: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001;26:369-373.
Barbosa PR, Valvassori SS, Bordignon CL Jr, et al. The aqueous extracts of Passiflora alata and Passiflora edulis reduce anxiety-related behaviors without affecting memory process in rats. J Med Food. 2008;11:282-288.
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:293-296.
Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A. Anxiolytic activity of aerial and underground parts of Passifloraincarnata. Fitoterapia. 2001;72:922-926.
Dhawan K, Kumar S, Sharma A. Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;78:165-70.
Elsas SM, Rossi DJ, Raber J, et al. Passionflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method. Phytomedicine. 2010;17:940-949.
Ernst E, ed. Passionflower. The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Edinburgh: Mosby; 2001:140-141.
Grundmann O, Wang J, McGregor GP, Butterweck V. Anxiolytic Activity of a Phytochemically Characterized Passiflora incarnata Extract is Mediated via the GABAergic System. Planta Med. 2008;74:1769-1773.
Jawna-Zboinska K, Blecharz-Klin K, Joniec-Maciejak I, et al. Passiflora incarnata L. Improves Spatial Memory, Reduces Stress, and Affects Neurotransmission in Rats. Phytother Res. 2016;30(5):781-789.
Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J. 2010;9:42.
Larzelere MM, Wiseman P. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Prim Care. 2002;29:339-360, vii. Review.
Miyasaka L, Atallah A, Soares B. Passiflora for anxiety disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(1):CD004518.
Modabbernia A, Akhondzadeh S. Saffron, passionflower, valerian, and sage for mental health. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2013;36(1):85-91.
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;106:1728-1732.
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc; 2002;294-297.
Sarris J. Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: a systematic review. Phytother Res. 2007;21:703-716. Review.
Watson RR, Zibadi S, Rafatpanah H, et al. Oral administration of the purple passion fruit peel extract reduces wheeze and cough and improves shortness of breath in adults with asthma. Nutr Res. 2008;28:166-171.