The Health Benefits of Passion Flower

May Help Treat Anxiety and Insomnia

Passion flower (passiflora incarnata) is an herbal supplement used historically in treating anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hysteria. A perennial climbing vine native to southeastern North America, passion flower is now grown throughout Europe.

The herbal supplement is composed of the flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant. When used in complementary medicine, passion flower is available as infusions, teas, liquid extracts, and tinctures.

Side effects of Passion Flower
Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee 

Passion Flower Health Benefits

The safety and effectiveness of passion flower have not been adequately studied. However, there are reports that this herbal supplement may have a few health benefits.

It May Help Reduce Anxiety

Evidence from limited animal and human research suggests that the supplement may be useful in treating anxiety, insomnia, and nervous disorders.

Passion flower's anxiolytic effects are thought to be due to its impact on neurotransmitters, including GABA and dopamine. One study found that passion flower extract led to significant increases in dopamine levels.

A 2018 review of the use of various herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric conditions suggested that high-quality evidence was available supporting the use of passion flower to relieve anxiety disorders.

Some Variants May Relieve Stomach Upset

Some research also indicates that certain types of passion flower might be useful for relieving stomach problems, including ulcers. One animal study found that passion flower extract helped relieve stomach ulcers in rats. However, more research is needed to determine if passion flower might have the same effect in humans.

Other Uses

Passion flower is also sometimes used as a supplement treat:

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Burns
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Symptoms associated with menopause
  • Stress

However, it is important to note that while passion flower is sometimes utilized or promoted for these purposes, there is a lack of evidence to support these uses. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes for Health, states that there is not enough research to demonstrate that passion flower can help treat cardiac issues, stress, menopause, pain, burns, hemorrhoids, or ADHD.

More rigorous scientific studies are needed to make firm conclusions about the effectiveness of passion flower for the treatment of anxiety problems and other health conditions.

Possible Side Effects

Side effects have been rarely reported for passion flower but may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Mental slowing
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting

When taking passion flower, ensure you don't drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how it affects you. 

In general, passion flower is considered safe and nontoxic. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements.

One small study indicated that passion flower might be associated with pregnancy complications. Further research is needed to better understand this potential risk.

Most herbs and supplements are not thoroughly tested, and there is no guarantee regarding the ingredients or safety of the products.

Dosage and Preparation

In addition, it is important to stress that these dosages are not prescriptions but merely suggested guidelines. 

  • Infusions: 2.5 grams, three to four times daily
  • Teas: Tea made from 4 to 8 grams of dried herb, daily
  • Liquid extract: 10 to 30 drops, three times daily
  • Tincture: 10 to 60 drops, three times daily

There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of passion flower in children.

Precautions When Taking Passion Flower

The same advice applies when using passion flower as does for any natural supplement: Read the product label and discuss with a doctor or other medical provider what dosage is suitable for you and your specific medical needs. Be sure to tell them of any other medications or remedies you're using, even if only occasionally.

As with most herbal remedies or other medications, it's not a good idea to take passion flower if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Drug Interactions and Warnings

As with any herbal remedy, there is always the possibility of interaction between passion flower and other treatments or medications.

There's a fairly comprehensive list of medications known to have possible interactions with passion flower. These include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • Narcotics

Take care if you are taking blood thinners or anti-inflammatory medications, as these have been shown to have possible passion flower interactions. Other herbal remedies that may cause issues with passion flower are kava and valerian root. Finally, alcohol, caffeine, and aspirin may not mix well with passion flower usage. 


The standard caveats apply to passion flower that apply to any other new medication or treatment: If you are already taking or planning to take another medication or supplement, consult with a qualified healthcare provider about potential interactions. 

Passion flower on its own has not been associated with liver problems. However, one case report indicated that a combination of kava (which has been linked to liver problems) and passion flower led to a fatal liver injury.

Alternatives to Passion Flower

If passion flower isn't working the way you need it to, or you want to try other options, there are other treatments and remedies that you might consider.

Other Herbal Supplements

Many other supplements suggested for anxiety, such as chamomile, which several studies have shown to be effective in reducing anxiety and perhaps even acting as an antidepressant. Chamomile has been used for thousands of years, including by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans.

Another option that many with depression have found helpful is St. John's Wort. Research suggests that St. John’s Wort is useful in treating mild to moderate depression, but its value as a treatment for anxiety is still not established.

Medication and Psychotherapy

If you have anxiety that causes distress and disruption in your life, talk to a healthcare professional for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment advice. Effective treatments are available that can help relieve anxiety, and those options should be your first line of defense before trying an alternative treatment such as passion flower.

Evidence-based treatments such as medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have been proven effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Talk to your doctor about a referral to a qualified mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Passion flower may have a number of benefits, including the relief of anxiety. However, more evidence is needed to support its use for this and other purposes. If you decide to try this herbal supplement, be aware of the potential side effects and talk to your doctor about any medications, substances, or supplements you are taking to avoid risky drug interactions.

13 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading

By Arlin Cuncic, MA
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology.