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The passionflower vine is a native of the Western hemisphere, named for symbolic connections drawn between its appearance and the crucifixion of Jesus. Native North Americans used passionflower primarily as a mild sedative. It quickly caught on as a folk remedy in Europe and was thereafter adopted by professional herbalists as a sedative and digestive aid.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Passionflower?
A 4-week double-blind study of 36 individuals with anxiety (specifically, generalized anxiety disorder) compared passionflower to the standard drug oxazepam. 1 Oxazepam worked more quickly, but by the end of the 4-week trial, both treatments proved equally effective. Furthermore, passionflower showed a comparative advantage in terms of side-effects: use of oxazepam was associated with more job-related problems (such as, daytime drowsiness). And, in a placebo-controlled trial involving 60 surgical patients, passionflower significantly reduced anxiety up to 90 minutes prior to surgery. 2
A 14-day, double-blind trial enrolled 65 men addicted to opiate drugs and compared the effectiveness of passionflower and the drug clonidine together against clonidine alone. 3 Clonidine is a drug widely used to assist narcotic withdrawal. It effectively reduces physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure. However, clonidine does not help emotional symptoms, such as drug craving, anxiety, irritability, agitation, and depression. These symptoms can be quite severe and often cause enrollees in drug treatment programs to end participation. In this 14 day study, the use of passionflower along with clonidine significantly eased the emotional aspects of withdrawal as compared to clonidine alone.
The proper dosage of passionflower is 1 cup 3 times daily of a tea made by steeping 1 teaspoon of dried leaves for 10 to 15 minutes. Passionflower tinctures and powdered extracts should be taken according to the label instructions.
- Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 26(5):363-7.
- Movafegh A, Alizadeh R, Hajimohamadi F, et al. Preoperative oral Passiflora incarnata reduces anxiety in ambulatory surgery patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Anesth Analg. 2008;106:1728-1732
- Akhondzadeh S, Kashani L, Mobaseri M, Hosseini SH, Nikzad S, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of opiates withdrawal: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther. 26(5):369-73.