Passion flower is a vine known 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 leaves, stems, and flowers are used for medicinal purposes. It is more commonly known as the crown of thorns. In folklore, the passion flower was given its name because its corona resembles the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. Now commonly cultivated in Europe, the passion flower is a perennial climbing vine. It has herbaceous shoots, a sturdy woody stem, and grows to almost 10 meters in length. The petals on each flower of the passion flower may vary in color from brilliant white to a dull red.
The passion flower is most commonly used for its ability to calm the central nervous system. Like benzodiazepines and other herbs, the passion flower increases the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages from nerve cells to other cells. It decreases the activity of nerve cells in the brain, causing relaxation. It is helpful for anxiety and insomnia because of its calming effect. Chemicals known as harmala alkaloids, used to block an enzyme involved in depression, are also apparent in the passion flower. It is effective in increasing the activity of neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in increasing mood stability by blocking monoamine oxidase.
In addition to being helpful for anxiety, insomnia, and nervous gastrointestinal conditions, the passion flower is also commonly used for the following:
Dosage and Administration
- pain relief, as a sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic, neuralgia (pain along a nerve)
- diarrhea, dysentery
- generalized seizures, nervous tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate), spasmodic asthma, hysteria, nervous agitation,
- dysmennorhea (painful menstruation), and hemorrhoids
Adults should take (via infusion) 2 to 5g of dried herb 3 times a day or .5 to 1.0 mL 3times a day as an alcohol based extract. For Tincture (1:5 in 45 alcohol): 0.5 to 2.0 mL 3 times a day.
Children - per 50 lbs may take (20 to 25 g).