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Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata, Passiflora caerulea, Passiflora edulis, Passiflora foetida) is a perennial vining plant native to North and South America.
Passionflower has sedative properties that help calm you.[i] It has been shown to reduce anxiety. Including before surgery.
Passionflower promotes restful sleep and has been used to treat insomnia for millennia. Providing deep, restful sleep and leaving you feeling refreshed and well-rested in the next day.
As a nootropic, Passionflower is used primarily to lower stress and promote a good night’s sleep.
- Anxiety: Passionflower supports healthy GABA levels in your brain.[iii] As a nootropic it provides an anxiolytic effect without the unwanted side effects of anti-anxiety meds.[iv]
- Sleep: Passionflower supports healthy sleep.[v] It has been shown to improve sleep quality and feeling refreshed the next morning.[vi]
- Neuromodulator: Passionflower modulates the levels of GABA in your brain. Passionflower inhibits GABA uptake in synapses without affecting GABA release or GABA transaminase activity.[vii]
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata, Passiflora caerulea, Passiflora edulis, Passiflora foetida) is a perennial vining plant native to Central and South America. It produces white with lavender-fringed flowers having 10 white petals, and a central crown of pinkish-purple filaments.
There are over 520 different species belonging to the Passifloraceae family. In the southeastern United States, it is often called Maypop, named after the edible fruit, it produces a “pop” when crushed.
Passionflower was known to Native Americans as an herbal remedy long before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. The name Passionflower came from Roman Catholic priests in the 1500’s. They reported seeing symbols of the Passion of Jesus Christ in the parts of the plant.
Used for centuries by Native Americans, Passionflower is known for its ability to reduce anxiety and insomnia. Recent clinical studies confirm the neuroscience showing Passionflower as being effective for these traditional uses.
Passionflower is used for anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), symptoms of opiate withdrawal, insomnia, nerve pain, convulsions, bronchial spasms, ADHD, palpitations, cardiac rhythm abnormalities, hypertension, sexual dysfunction, and menopause.[x]
New studies are emerging that look at the science behind these uses and other possible benefits of Passionflower. Including helping with panic attacks, seizures, headaches, menstrual pain, and Parkinson’s disease.
Passionflower boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.
- Passionflower is anti-anxiety. The symptoms of anxiety and depression are often due to an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain.
One randomized, double-blind clinical trial was conducted with 40 volunteers who were about to undergo an anxiety-inducing tooth extraction. The volunteers were given 260 mg of Passionflower or 15 mg of midazolam 30 minutes before surgery.
The researchers concluded that Passionflower showed anxiolytic effects similar to midazolam. And was a safe and effective sedation alternative for adult patients undergoing a tooth extraction.[xiii]
- Passionflower for sleep. Passionflower is a traditional herbal sedative, anxiolytic, and popular sleep aid used for the treatment of insomnia.
And several clinical studies have demonstrated its efficacy as a sleep aid in lab animals. But clinical trials in humans were lacking
So, researchers at Monash University in Australia decided to investigate Passionflower herbal tea on human sleep. 41 volunteers aged 18 – 35 were selected to participate in the experiment.
Each study participant consumed a cup of Passionflower tea and filled out a sleep diary daily for 7 days. Of the 6 sleep-diary measures analyzed, sleep quality showed a significantly better rating for Passionflower compared to the placebo.
The researchers concluded that the consumption of low-dose Passionflower tea resulted in sleep benefits for healthy adults with mild fluctuations in sleep quality.[xiv]
Dysfunction of the GABA system is implicated in several neuropsychiatric conditions. Which can result in:
↑ Increased anxiety
↑ Increased symptoms of depression
↑ Poor sleep quality including insomnia[xvi]
↓ Declines in quality of life
Supplementing with Passionflower may help relieve anxiety and depression, improve your quality of sleep, and your overall sense of well-being.
Hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical studies have been published on the benefits of Passionflower. Passionflower has been well-established as an anxiolytic and sedative.[xvii]
- Reduce general anxiety[xviii] [xix]
- Reduce anxiety before surgery[xx][xxi]
- Treat insomnia[xxii]
- Improve sleep quality[xxiii][xxiv]
- Modulate GABA levels in your brain[xxv][xxvi]
- Work as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant[xxvii]
- Have potential for Parkinson’s disease[xxviii]
- Help in the treatment of opiate withdrawal[xxix]
- Reduce hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause[xxx]
How does Passionflower feel?
Neurohackers report improved sleep quality with Passionflower. They say it helps them fall asleep and sleep more deeply.
One person who calls herself a “Type A” personality said it “helps shut my brain off and drift into sleep peacefully.”
Unlike using sleep meds, neurohackers say when using Passionflower for sleep they don’t feel as “zonked out” as they do when using sleep meds. Sleep is better and it’s easier to get going the next morning.
Many Passionflower users say it provides relief from anxiety. It “takes the edge” off and helps them work past their anxiety instead of becoming paralyzed by it.
Passionflower helps calm you but without the side effects associated with anti-anxiety meds. And you cannot become physically dependent on it like you can with anti-anxiety drugs.
Passionflower has been used for millennia to reduce anxiety and for restful sleep. It’s also used for panic attacks, seizures, hypertension, headaches, and menstrual pain.[xxxi]
Here are 3 more human clinical studies for Passionflower used for anxiety and sleep.
Passionflower compared to an anti-anxiety med
A randomized, double-blind, controlled study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics examined the effect of Passionflower on Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It compared the efficacy of Passionflower to oxazepam, a pharmaceutical sedative.
36 Patients diagnosed with GAD were randomly assigned to receive either 45 drops/day of Passionflower extract, or 30 mg/day oxazepam for 4 weeks.
The study found that Passionflower extract was equally effective as oxazepam for treating GAD.
The researchers concluded, “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.”[xxxii]
Passionflower for anxiety before surgery
Patients who undergo anesthesia before surgery typically experience anxiety.
A research team at Ankara Training and Research Hospital in Turkey conducted a study using Passionflower with 60 patients aged 25-55 years about to get spinal anesthesia.
Their intention was to investigate the efficacy of Passionflower on anxiety, psychomotor function, sedation, and blood pressure when taken as a supplement prior to anesthesia.
The patients received Passionflower syrup (700 mg/5 mL aqueous extract) or a placebo 30 minutes before spinal anesthesia.
After the surgery was complete the researchers concluded “oral administration of Passionflower suppressed anxiety before spinal anesthesia without changing psychomotor performance or blood pressure and produced no side effects”.[xxxiii]
Passionflower for sleep
A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical study published in 2020 examined the effect of Passionflower on insomnia.
A research team at the Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine in Korea used polysomnographic technology to investigate the effects of Passionflower in subjects suffering from insomnia.
Polysomnography, also called a sleep study, is a comprehensive test used to diagnose sleep disorders. Polysomnography records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements during a study.
110 adult participants with an average age of 40 years old and who were diagnosed with insomnia disorder were included in the study.
The patients received either Passionflower extract or a placebo for 2 weeks. Patients underwent an overnight polysomnography and completed sleep diaries as well as several other tests used to measure sleep quality and duration.
Sleep efficiency and wake after sleep onset (WASO) significantly improved after 2 weeks in the Passionflower group but no change in sleep with the placebo group.
The researchers concluded that Passionflower demonstrated a positive effect on sleep and relieving insomnia.[xxxiv]
The recommended nootropic dosage for Passionflower extract for anxiety is 250-1,000 mg per day. Larger doses should be divided into 2 or 3 smaller doses during your day.
Recommended dosage of Passionflower extract for sleep is 200 – 400 mg before bed.
Recommended dosage of Passionflower tincture is 0.5-2 ml 3- times per day.
Recommended dosage of Passionflower tea is 0.25-2 grams of dried Passionflower per cup of tea, steeped for 10-15 minutes. Taken 2 or 3-times per day.
Passionflower Side Effects
Passionflower is considered non-toxic and safe when used at the recommended dosage.
Side effects are rare but can include drowsiness, confusion, reduced coordination, nausea, headache, or rapid heartrate.
CAUTION: Passionflower has the potential to interact with several drugs and you should not take it if you take sleep aids, tranquilizers, sedatives, MAOIs, anticoagulants or blood pressure medication. Passionflower may slow blood-clotting.[xxxvi] Passionflower may lower blood pressure.
Passionflower should not be used if you are pregnant because human studies show using herb while pregnant can result in neonatal death, premature rupture of membranes, newborns taking amniotic fluid into their lungs, or newborn high blood pressure.[xxxvii]
Type of Passionflower to Buy
Passionflower supplements are made from the flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant. It’s available in capsule, tincture, and dried herb form.
Pascoflair® is made by Pascoe which is headquartered in Giessen, Germany. Pascoflair® is a patented Passionflower extract with 425 mg dry extract in tablet form.
Passionflower extract in capsules range from 200 mg to 1100 mg each.
Passionflower tinctures are available as alcohol or water extracts and sold in small dropper bottles. Follow dosage recommendations provided by the manufacturer in the bottle label.
Look for Passionflower supplements that are preferably certified organic, non-GMO, produced in a GMP facility, and contains zero fillers or other toxic “other ingredients”.
I recommend: Nature’s Answer Passion Flower extract
Nootropics Expert® Recommendation
I recommend using Passionflower as a nootropic supplement.
Your body does not make Passionflower on its own. So, you must take it as a supplement.
Supplementing with Passionflower before surgery can help reduce the anxiety you normally experience in anticipation of the surgical procedure.
Passionflower is also helpful if you have problems with sleep. It improves sleep quality if you are dealing with insomnia without affecting your performance the following day.
Women going through menopause find supplementing with Passionflower helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
Passionflower may help you taper off opiates with fewer withdrawal symptoms including better quality sleep and less anxiety.
You can safely take up to 1,000 mg of Passionflower extract if needed. If you are using it for anxiety, try 500 mg in the morning and another 500 mg in the afternoon.
I recommend: Nature’s Answer Passion Flower extract