Passiflora incarnata herb information and use to relieve stress, anxiety and help with sleep and relaxation - review of research
June 20 2019 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower or Passion Flower) is used in several parts of the world as a traditional medicine for the management of anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and morphine addiction. Passiflora may also have aphrodisiac properties.

What's in passiflora incarnata herb?
A tri-substituted benzoflavone moiety has been isolated from the bioactive methanol extract of passiflora, which has been proposed to be responsible for the biological activities of this plant. Passiflora also contains flavonoids, sterols, cholorogenic acid, volatile oil, and traces of indole alkaloids (including
(harman, harmin, harmalin, harmol, and harmalol). The major flavonoids isolated from passiflora incarnata are identified as orientin, isoorientin, vitexin, isovitexin, and schaftoside.

What are some of the benefits of this natural plant?
Passiflora herb is useful to induce relaxation. It is helpful in some people in reducing restlessness, anxiety, and nervousness. It also has mild anti-cough properties. Other herbs that are used to relieve stress include ashwagandha, kava, and valerian. Nutrients that help with anxiety or stress are 5-HTP and tryptophan amino acid.

Passiflora and anxiety, reducing stress
Passiflora may be helpful in reducing restlessness, anxiety, and nervousness. It also has anti-cough properties. The methanol extracts of leaves, stems, flowers, and whole plant exhibit anxiolytic effects. The roots are practically devoid of anxiolytic effects. This means the leaves seem to contain the most concentration of the active ingredients.
   A double-blind randomized trial compared the efficacy of passiflora incarnata extract with oxazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. The study was performed on 36 out-patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder allocated in a random fashion: 18 to the passiflora extract 45 drops/day plus placebo tablet group, and 18 to oxazepam 30 mg/day plus placebo drops for a 4-week trial. Both were effective in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. No significant difference was observed between the two protocols at the end of trial. Oxazepam showed a rapid onset of action. On the other hand, significantly more problems relating to impairment of job performance were encountered with subjects on oxazepam. The results suggest that passiflora extract is an effective drug for the management of generalized anxiety disorder, and the low incidence of impairment of job performance with Passiflora extract compared to oxazepam is an advantage. Passiflora in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. Tehran University of Medical Sciences, South Kargar Avenue, Tehran, Iran. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001.

J Anesthesiology. 2012. Passiflora incarnata Linneaus as an anxiolytic before spinal anesthesia. Oral preoperative administration suppresses the increase in anxiety before spinal anesthesia without changing psychomotor function test results, sedation level, or hemodynamics.

Passion Flower -- a reliable herbal sedative
Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002.
Extracts and fluid extracts from the aerial parts from passiflora incarnata are widely used as components of herbal sedatives. Many pharmacological investigations confirm the sedative effects. From some of the studies also anxiolytic effects can be deduced. Based on pharmacological data, the experiences of traditional use and the use in combinations passiflora extracts are an important factor in the phytotherapy of tenseness, restlessness and irritability with difficulty in falling asleep.

Passiflora has the ability to suppress cough.

Aphrodisiac properties of passiflora herbal extract
In addition to the benefits listed above, passiflora extract has exhibited aphrodisiac, libido-enhancing and virility-enhancing properties. When administered concomitantly with nicotine, ethanol and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol for 30 days in male rats, passiflora extract prevented the drug-induced decline in sexuality in male rats. Because the one of the extracts in passiflora incarnata is a tri-substituted derivative of alpha-naphthoflavone (7,8-benzoflavone), a well-known aromatase-enzyme inhibitor, the mode of action has been postulated to be a neurosteroidal mechanism vide in which the this extract prevents the metabolic degradation of testosterone and upregulates blood - testosterone levels in the body.
   The aphrodisiac properties of the methanol extract of leaves of passiflora incarnata have also been evaluated in mice by observing the mounting behavior. The methanol extract of passiflora incarnata exhibited significant aphrodisiac behavior in male mice

Aphrodisiac activity of methanol extract of leaves of Passiflora incarnata in mice.
Phytother Res. 2003.
The aphrodisiac properties of the methanol extract of leaves have been evaluated in mice by observing the mounting behavior. The methanol extract of Passiflora incarnata exhibited significant aphrodisiac behavior in male mice

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Beneficial effects of chrysin and benzoflavone on virility in 2-year-old male rats.
J Med Food. 2002.
This work describes the potential usefulness of bioflavonoids for countering the deleterious effects of aging on male sexuality in 2-year-old rats. A flavone chrysin from passiflora caerulea and a benzoflavone moiety recently isolated from passiflora incarnata were administered to 2-year-old male rats for a period of 30 days. After cessation of these treatments, there was a significant improvement in overall sexual functions in the rats given bioflavonoids, compared with control rats. The rats receiving chrysin and BZF exhibited increased libido when they were allowed to interact with nonestrous female rats. Additionally, both treated groups had increased sperm count, greater fertilization potential, and greater litter size when they were allowed to interact with proven proestrous female rats of a similar strain. BZF was more potent than chrysin as an antiaromatase agent and exhibited better effects on the sexual system of the 2-year-old male rats.

Sedative, sleep
Pharmacological studies on the sedative and hypnotic effect of Kava kava and Passiflora extracts combination.
Phytomedicine. 2005. 1st Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Salerno, Italy.
Kava kava extract, passiflora extract and a combination of both extracts, administered to mice, caused a significant decrease of the amphetamine-induced hypermotility and significant prolongation of sleeping phase induced by subcutaneous injection of barbiturates. Due to a synergism of both extracts, simultaneously administered the pharmacologically registered effect in both in vivo experiments was found to be superior over the sum of the single separately administered extracts.

Q. My wife is 64 y.o and experiencing anxiety and difficulty in falling asleep. She takes Brotizolam 0.25mg nightly, but would like to switch to something which is not addictive. I purchased Passiflora incarnata powder. According to the Certificate of Analysis it is 10:1 extract ratio. Can you advise me as to the dosage? I read that 200 mg caps. are recommended. Should I have it encapsulated or, can it be taken as a warm drink.
   A. This herb is not a potent sleep inducer but it can be taken as a capsule or as tea a few hours before bed to help with relaxation.

Antioxidant activity
Antiradical activities of the extract of Passiflora incarnata.
Acta Pol Pharm. 2008.
The objective of this work was to investigate the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Passiflora incarnata and the influence of the flavonoids they contain. The data show that it has not only sedative but also antioxidant activity. The ethanol extract catches free radicals more effectively than the water extract. The strongest antiradical effect among the investigated flavonoids (chlorogenic acid, hyperosid, isovitexin, caffeic acid, quercetin, luteolin, orentin, rutin, scutelarein, vicenin and vitexin) was predetermined by vicenin, isovitexin and orentin. The antiradical activity increases with the increase of the concentration of the mentioned materials.

Passiflora can be used as a tea, 2 to 5 grams of the dried herb two to three times a day (one teaspoon is usually about 2 to 3 grams). Passiflora is also available as fluid or tincture extract (follow directions on the bottle). Capsules of the dried herbal extract are available from 200 mg, taken as needed on daily. Passionflower is often combined with valerian and other sedative herbs.

Passiflora side effects
No significant side effects have yet been reported in studies except for anecdotal reports, but long term studies are not yet available. Sedation is of course one of the side effects.

Toxicity of Passiflora incarnata
J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2000.
A 34-year-old female developed severe nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, prolonged QTc, and episodes of nonsustained ventricular tachycardia following self-administration of a herbal remedy, passiflora incarnata L., at therapeutic doses. The possible association of symptoms with passiflora was not recognized for several days. She required hospital admission for cardiac monitoring and intravenous fluid therapy. Passiflora incarnata was associated with significant adverse effects in this patient. It is important to ask specifically about the use of herbal medicines in patients with undiagnosed illnesses.
Passiflora extract and opiate withdrawal
Passiflora extract may be an effective adjuvant agent in the management of opiate withdrawal.    An extract from passiflora herb reverses tolerance and dependence of several addiction-prone psychotropic drugs, including morphine, nicotine, ethanol, diazepam and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

Passiflora in the treatment of opiates withdrawal: a double-blind randomized controlled trial.
J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001.
In our continuing study of traditional medicines, which have neurotropic effects, this plant had an anxiolytic effect, which may be used as an adjuvant agent in the detoxification of opiates by clonidine. We present the results of a double-blind randomized controlled trial of clonidine plus passiflora extract vs. clonidine plus placebo in the outpatient detoxification of 65 opiates addicts. A total of 65 opiates addicts were assigned randomly to treatment with passiflora extract plus clonidine tablet or clonidine tablet plus placebo drop during a 14-day double-blind clinical trial. Both protocols were equally effective in treating the physical symptoms of withdrawal syndromes. However, the passiflora plus clonidine group showed a significant superiority over clonidine alone in the management of mental symptoms. These results suggested that passiflora extract may be an effective adjuvant agent in the management of opiate withdrawal. However, a larger study to confirm our results is warranted.

J Ethnopharmacol. Dec 12 2013. Passiflora incarnata: ethnopharmacology, clinical application, safety and evaluation of clinical trials. The genus Passiflora incarnata has long been used in traditional herbal medicine for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety in Europe, and it has been used as a sedative tea in North America. Furthermore, this plant has been used for analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-asthmatic, wormicidal and sedative purposes in Brazil; as a sedative and narcotic in Iraq; and for the treatment of disorders such as dysmenorrhoea, epilepsy, insomnia, neurosis and neuralgia in Turkey. Clinical studies on the effects of products containing herbal preparations based on Passiflora incarnata reveal crucial weaknesses such as poor details regarding the drug extract ratio, limited patient samples, no description of blinding and randomisation procedures, incorrect definition of placebo, and lack of intention to treat analysis. In conclusion, the results of this review suggest that new clinical trials should be conducted using a more rigorous methodology to assess the traditional putative efficacy

Can passiflora help with internet addiction?
   I am not aware of such a relationship.

I have read some research that the tri-substituted benzoflavone helps greatly in the withdrawal of medications like valium. From your website I realized that it is contained in the Passiflora Incarnata. However I realize that it contains trace amounts of Harman alkaloids. From my internet research Iíve learned that Harman alkaloids act as Monamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI). I also realize that you should not take a MAOI while on an antidepressant as it can lead to serotonin syndrome. Unfortunately Iím on an antidepressant as well. Is there enough in straight Passiflora Incarnata to cause a potential problem? Have you or any of your colleagues isolated the tri-substituted benzoflavone and concentrated it for use in a supplement to help people get off of valium. If so where or when can I purchase this? Iím currently on 4 mg of valium and am trying to get off it. Iím cutting by a 0.25 mg every 3-4 weeks so that I can still function at work. If your tri-substituted benzoflavone is not ready yet might a di-substituted benzoflavone like 7, 8- benzoflavone work? This I can get on line from body building websites. Itís touted to increase testosterone production. I think you could do a great service to thousands if not millions of people worldwide who are dependant on benzodiazepine such as valium. To assist in the healing of another human being is the noblest of all professions.
    I have not heard of any cases of passion flower herbal use to interfere with MAOI inhibitors but I have not seen any studies with this interaction and I doubt there is enough of these chemicals to interact negatively. I, personally, am not involved in manufacturing. There are a number of natural substances that are helpful in reducing anxiety. I have not studied the benefits or side effects of 7, 8- benzoflavone.

Various Passiflora Species
incarnata, caerulea
edulis, ligularis
foetida, lutea

Passiflora Incarnata herb 200 mg
Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 capsule
Servings per Bottle: 90

Each Capsule Contains: Passion Flower 200 mg
     (Passiflora spp.) flower and leaf

Suggested Use, dosage: 1 passionflower capsule daily or as needed. May be taken on an empty stomach any time of day.