Passion Flower

Passiflora incarnata - Passion Flower
Passiflora incarnata ~ passion flower

Botanical: Passiflora incarnata

Family: N.O. Passifloraceae

parts used: leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, & root

energetics: bitter, cool

actions: analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-depressant, anti-spasmodic, anti-convulsant, anxiolytic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, hypotensive, nervine, nutritive, sedative, vermifuge

common names: Maypop, Apricot vine, Passiflore rouge, Passions blume, Purple Passion-flower, Passion Vine

I will NEVER forget the first time I ever saw a passion flower… I was in Houston and I carried the flowers all the way home to Oklahoma with me to find out what they were. I thought they were the most impressive thing I’d ever seen and wanted to grow them in addition to the clematis I grew. They made such a stately hedge of green spotted with bright bursts of purple. I had no idea I was falling in love forever with an herbal Ally!

Aside from the versatile and healthful fruit, the leaves of some species of passiflora have also been used by many native cultures as a medicine. The Native Americans more so than any other tribal culture have used the dried aerial parts of the plant as a primary ingredient in the creation of a special tisane that is drunk to help treat insomnia, epilepsy, anxiety, hysteria, and some types of mania and hyperactivity. [1]

There are over 400 species of passion flower growing throughout the world but, Passiflora incarnata is native to the Midwestern and Southeastern United States. Maypop is listed as endangered in Ohio and it is the official wildflower of Tennessee.

How to Use Passion Flower

How the Cherokee Used Passion Flower

The Cherokees use the root of the plant as topical anti-inflammatory. Tea made from the roots is used as a tonic for the liver and for skin boils. The extracts of were also used for the relief of nervousness, abdominal cramps and anxiety. [2]


Passiflora is known for its delicious fruit. The unforgettable flower gives way to colorful pods that range from very dark to lime green. The seed pod contains a mushy, seedy, but edible pulp that contains a large number of soft small seeds; all of it edible. They are a creamy yellow when ripe. The fruit can be used for jelly, wine, deserts and a mock honey.

Passion fruit, also known as maypop, is made into commercial drinks. South Americans use passion flower in cocktails, fruit punch, and dessert dishes, to top ice cream and to make a very popular soup. Australians also use passion fruit and cultivate it commercially. The flavor is described as a combination of pineapple, apricot, guava and banana ~ with a hint of lime.

Passiflora incarnata fruit
passion fruit from the passion flower vine

Passion Fruit Butter

  • ¼ cup fresh passion fruit juice
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup softened butter

Combine juices and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-high for about 10 to 15 minutes or until only half cup of the mixture remains. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk butter in small amounts until all of the butter is incorporated. Makes about 1 cup.

Cosmetic Uses for Passion Flower

Passiflora laurifolia Flower Extract is commonly known as Passionflower Extract, is a powder extract derived from flower petals of Passiflora Laurifolia, due to soothing effect of flavonoids, beneficial for sensitive skin or after sun care.

In South America passion fruit seeds are used to create an oil called Maracuja oil. It is considered to be anti-aging, relaxing, and contains ample amounts of Vitamins A & C. Maracuja oil absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy film. I use it in a natural sun tan oil I make, it is also in the famous sun tanning oil, Hawaiian Tropic.

Maracuja oil is also an excellent ingredient for massage oils, eye creams, relaxing night time creams, and as a general moisturizing oil. It can also be used as a fat in making soap.

Using Passion Flower for Wellness

Passion Flower has demonstrated a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities in pre-clinical experiments, including anxiolytic, sedative, anti-tussive (to relieve cough), anti-asthmatic (asthma) and anti-diabetic. The plant has a good safety profile.

Active Constituents of Passion Flower

Alkaloids (harman), flavonoids (incl. c-glycosides of vitexin, isovitexin, apigenin, luteolin), sugars, sterols, gums, gynocardin, various b-carboline, alkaloids, chrysin, kaempferol, quercetin, rutin, harman, coumarin derivatives, amino acids, gum, maltol, stigmasterol

L. Krenn in “Passion Flower- A Reliable Herbal Sedative” [9] notes that

“Extracts and fluid extracts from the aerial parts from Passiflora incarnata L. are widely used as components of herbal sedatives. Many pharmacological investigations confirm the sedative effects of Passiflora herb. From some of the studies also anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects can be deduced.”

Passion flower tea can help promote relaxation and relieve anxiety. Passionflower is so effective that Buzzfeed reports it is used to make a medication called Oxazepam that treats Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

The Commission E approved its use for anxiety. It is also on the FDA’s gras list.

A study done in 2002 with mice, suggested that a methanol leaf extract of passionflower was shown to be comparable to the cough suppressant action of codeine [10]. It may be possible that these actions are related to the strong antispasmodic activity of the harmala alkaloids contained within Passiflora spp.

passion flower vine
tri-lobed leaves of the passion flower

The passionflower vine is used to support wellness and it is edible. As a tea, it is often blended with Valerian, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Skullcap, St. John’s Wort or other relaxing herbs. Alone in a tea, like it’s fragrance, it has a pleasant, very mild, but unusual taste. It is hard to describe. The color of the infusion is a very pale green, lighter in color than most herbal teas.

Karen Bergeron Shelton at AltNature says some people say the scent has an aphrodisiac fragrance. Like her, I often mix passionflower herb in with any tea I am brewing. It is known to help focus the concentration.

A team, from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, a mental health charity, scrutinized 24 studies into supplements commonly used to reduce stress. St John’s wort, the favorite of millions, failed to impress, the Nutrition Journal reports. But passion flower supplements do seem to be effective.

Use Passion Flower to Calm the Mind

Passionflower can also help support those struggling with addiction, tension, irritability, and fear. Research has been done which suggests that “Passiflora extract is an effective drug for the management of generalized anxiety disorder and the low incidence of impairment of job performance” which accompanies pharmaceutical medication.

If you are looking to calm the unruly mind, assist sleep, or recover from stress, then find inspiration in the beauty and brain food of Passionflower. Share on X

Passion Flower is high or very high in Chromium, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Protein, and Vitamin A

Raising magnesium levels is known to help people sleep better. 🙂

Many have found passion flower to be effective for alcohol, drug and nicotine addiction withdrawal. For alcohol addiction some use in conjunction with Kudzu Root. For nicotine, people say its best with Lobelia.

Good to Know…
For fungal infections it may be best to damage the leaves a few hours or days before harvesting as this has been shown to increase the anti-fungal agents located in the plant. [10]

Dose: 1.5-2mL 3x/day of a 1:5 tincture; 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in 1 cup of hot water for 20 minutes (drink a half cup 2-3x/day)*

*All doses come from the book Herbal Therapy and Supplements by David Winston and Merrily A. Kuhn.


  • As mentioned anywhere passionflower is on the FDA’s “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) list; however, it might increase the action of other sedative medications and herbs.
  • Passion flower contains minute amounts of harman alkaloids which can reduce the effects of antidepressants based on monoamine oxidase inhibitors. In Germany, passion flower preparations may contain no more than 0.01 percent of harman alkaloids. Otherwise, no side effects or contraindications are reported for the herb.

“Lay down on your pillow
and turn the lights down low
let me take you to the garden
where the passion flower grows… ”
~ Charles M. Moore

passion flower seedlings


  1. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam.
  2. M.Miroddia, G.Calapai, M.Navarra, P.L.Minciullo,S.Gangemi (2013). “Passiflora incarnata L.: Ethnopharmacology, clinical application, safety and evaluation of clinical trials”. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Passiflora incarnata L.: ethnopharmacology, clinical application, safety and evaluation of clinical trials..
  3. Passiflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method.
  4. Practical Herbalism Philip L Fritchey, M.H., N.D., CNHP Publisher: Wendell W. Whitman Company
  5. Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata L.)- a reliable herbal sedative.
  6. A combination of plant extracts in the treatment of outpatients with adjustment disorder with anxious mood: controlled study versus placebo.
    Bourin M, Bougerol T, Guitton B, Broutin E.
    GIS Medicament, Faculte de Medecine, Unite de Psychopharmacologie, Nantes, France.
    Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 1997;11(2):127-32. PMID: 9107558
  7. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with Oxazepam.
    Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M.Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, South Kargar Avenue, Tehran, Iran.
    J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 Oct;26(5):363-7.PMID: 11679026
  8. Behavioral effects of Passiflora incarnata L. and its indole alkaloid and flavonoid derivatives.
    Soulimani R, Younos C, Jarmouni S, Bousta D, Misslin R, Mortier F.
    Laboratoire d’Ethnobotanique et de Pharmacologie, Universite de Metz, France.
    J Ethnopharmacol. 1997 Jun;57(1):11-20. PMID: 9234160
  9. Passion Flower — a reliable herbal sedative Krenn L. Institute fur Pharmakognosie, Universitat Wien, Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Wien.
    Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):404-6. PMID: 12244887
  10. Nicolls, J. M., Birner, J., & Forsell, P. (1973). Passicol, an antibacterial and antifungal agent produced by Passiflora plant species: qualitative and quantitative range of activity. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, 3(1), 110-117.
  11. Dhawan, K., & Sharma, A. (2002). Antitussive activity of the methanol extract of Passiflora incarnata leaves. Fitoterapia, 73(5), 397-399.
  12. TLC determination of flavonoid accumulation in clonal populations of Passiflora incarnata
    Menghini A, Mancini LA.
    Department of Plant Biology, University of Perugia, Italy.
    macol Res Commun. 1988 Dec;20 Suppl 5:113-6. PMID: 3247338

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