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Passion flower is a climbing vine renowned for its beautiful white flowers with purple, blue, or pink calyx crown blooms. The plant is native to North, Central, and South America. While primarily tropical, some of its 400 species can grow in colder climates. The mystery of such a beautiful blossom emerging from an unassuming bud has been compared to the Passion of Christ. This inspired the plant’s name, which dates back to the 17th century. The leaves, stems, and flowers are used for medicinal purposes.
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The historical use of passion flower is not dissimilar to its current use as a mild sedative. Medicinal use of the herb did not begin until the late 19th century in the United States. Passion flower was used to treat nervous restlessness and gastrointestinal spasms. In short, the effects of passion flower were believed to be primarily on the nervous system, particularly for anxiety due to mental worry and overwork.1
The effectiveness of passion flower as a treatment for anxiety has been confirmed in a double-blind study. In that study, 45 drops per day of an extract of passion flower taken for four weeks was as effective as 30 mg per day of oxazepam (Serax®), a medication used for anxiety.2
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.
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