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Passion Flower

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

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Updated August 02, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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.

Why Do People Use Passion Flower?

Passion flower proponents claim the herb can help treat 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 treatment of these 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 in number to permit any conclusions to be drawn.

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 the management of mental symptoms.

Passion Flower Side Effects

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

Is Passion Flower Safe?

Passion flower may produce harmful effects when used in combination 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.

If you're considering the use of passion flower in treatment of a specific health condition, 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.

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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