There are about 500 known species of passionflower. This family of plants is also known as Passiflora. Some studies suggest that certain species may have medicinal benefits. For example, Passiflora incarnata may help treat anxiety and insomnia.
Native Americans have used passionflower to treat a variety of conditions. These include boils, wounds, earaches, and liver problems.
Spanish explorers learned about passionflower from native Peruvians. They named these plants for their resemblance to a crucifix. In Christian traditions, “the Passion” is a term used to describe the final period of Jesus Christ’s life, including his crucifixion.
In Europe, people have used P. incarnata to treat restlessness and agitation. And some people use it to treat anxiety. The fruit is also used to flavor certain beverages.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), more research is needed to assess the potential uses of P. incarnata. Some studies suggest it may help relieve anxiety and insomnia. Other species of passionflower have shown promise for treating stomach problems.
P. incarnata has many common names, including purple passionflower and maypop. Early studies suggest it might help relieve insomnia and anxiety. It appears to boost the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. This compound lowers brain activity, which may help you relax and sleep better.
In a trial published in Phytotherapy Research, participants drank a daily dose of herbal tea with purple passionflower. After seven days, they reported improvements in the quality of their sleep. The researchers suggest that purple passionflower may help adults manage mild sleep irregularities.
Some trials suggest that purple passionflower may also relieve anxiety. A study reported in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia examined its effects on patients scheduled for surgery. Patients who consumed it reported less anxiety than those who received a placebo.
Other members of the Passiflora family might help treat stomach problems. Passiflora foetida is more commonly known as stinking passionflower. In a study reported in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, researchers examined its potential for treating stomach ulcers. They found it helped alleviate ulcers in rats. It also showed antioxidant potential.
In another study reported in BioMed Research International, scientists examined Passiflora serratodigitata. They created an extract from its leaves and stems. This extract also showed promise for treating ulcers in rats. But more research is needed on humans.
According to the NCCIH, passionflower is generally considered safe. But it may cause some side effects, such as:
Because of this, it should not be taken with sedative medications. Also, it’s not safe for pregnant women or breast-feeding women. It may induce contractions if you’re pregnant.
You can add dried passionflower to boiling water to create an herbal tea. You can find dried passionflower or prepackaged tea at many health food stores. You can also find liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets.
Always talk to your doctor before trying passionflower as an alternative treatment. They can help you assess the potential benefits and risks.