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Passionflower Herb Uses and Medicinal Properties

Passiflora incarnata

Other Names:  Passion Flower, Maypop, Apricot vine, Passiflore rouge, Passionsblume, Purple Passion-flower, Passion Vine

Page 1 Passionflower Herb Uses ~ Safety Information ~ Passionflower Description/Habitat ~ How to Grow Passionflower

Page 2  Passionflower Folklore and History  ~ Harvesting Passionflower ~ Helpful Books and Web Sites ~ Links to Clinical Studies

passionflower vine in hay field

There are over 400 species of Passionflower growing throughout the world. This article is about Passionflower incarnata which is native to the Midwestern and Southeastern United States, and is the species most commonly used in Alternative Medicine. Passionflower is the official wildflower of Tennessee.

Properties attributed to Passionflower - inconclusive - anodyne, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, aphrodisiac, aromatic, narcotic, sedative.

  Passionflower herb is used in alternative medicine for anxiety, insomnia, nervous disorders and seizures. It is more commonly used in Europe than its native home, the United States, where it can be found growing profusely in fields and on fencerows. Passionflower has been approved by Germany’s Commission E for the treatment of “nervous unrest". It is now exported to and grown in many European countries.

  Passionflower is said to be useful for back pain due to action on the nerves. Passionflower’s calming properties may also be helpful for ADD and ADHD. However, since it has not been extensively studied, it is not advisable to use on children without approval of their doctor. See Links to Clinical Studies on Passionflower to learn more. Passionflower is not considered as strong in action as Valerian or Kava, but might be a good option for those who can’t stand the taste of the stronger herbs. It also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac. I’ve heard stories...... you’ll have to find out for yourself. I can see where the calming effects would be helpful in that department.

Why are medical doctors in Europe and Japan more likely to recommend or prescribe herbs? External links open in new window.

  Passionflower is both an edible and medicinal plant. As a tea, It is often blended with Valerian, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Skullcap St. John’s Wort or other relaxing herbs. On its own in tea, it has a pleasant, very mild but unusual taste, much like its fragrance, that is hard to describe. The color of the infusion is a very pale green, lighter in color than most herbal teas. Some people say the scent as an aphrodisiac fragrance. One of my readers said he thinks it is like green beans, hmm...... maybe raw sweet peas? I like throwing a handful in my iced tea blends, as it seems to help with concentration when writing. The taste is not at all overwhelming so it could blend well with most any herb or iced tea.

Passionflower Herbal Tea Recipe

 To 1 tbsp. dried herb (include stems) add 1 cup boiling water steep for 10 min. drink at bedtime for restlessness and insomnia, or during the day to calm anxiety.

  The flowers can add a tasty and decorative touch to salads, or used to make a syrup. The fruit can be eaten raw or made into jams, jellies, or wine. Our native Passion flower fruit is most commonly called Wild Apricot, and is not the tropical Passionflower which yields Purple Passion Fruit. It is smaller than the Purple Passion Fruit but can be used in recipes that call for the tropical variety. The seeds may contain a minute amount of cyanide like properties, and one should not eat them in large amounts - just to be on the safe side.

Passionflower Jam Recipe  Passionflower Fruit Wine Recipe   Old Field Apricot Drink

 Try dried fragrant Passionflower leaves, fruits, buds and flowers in herbal sachets, baths, and herb pillows, too!

  An extract, or tincture, can also be made. The Simpler’s Method for making tinctures is to fill a jar with chopped fresh or ground dried herb and cover with 100 proof vodka. Shake the jar daily for two weeks, then strain. I prefer to start it at the new moon and strain it when the moon is full- just because things seem to work better for me when started in a new moon. Store in jar in dark cabinet and keep some in a dropper bottle for convenient use. The usual dose is 30-45 drops up to 3 times a day. For advanced information on tinctures and other preparations, read Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech.

Passionflower Safety & Interaction Information

  Passionflower is on the FDA’s “generally recognized as safe” list; however, it might increase the action of other sedative medications and herbs. If taking MAO-inhibiting antidepressant medications, it is best to consult with a physician before using Passion Flower. Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established. Passionflower is considered safe for most people when used at recommended dosage. Overdose may cause dizziness and other symptoms of over sedation. More information can be found at these pages.

User Reviews & Ratings - PASSIONFLOWER from WebMD

Extensive information on medicinal properties, with warnings and contra-indications from the University of Maryland Medical Center

Passionflower Description and Habitat

 Passionflower is a perennial vine that grows up to 30 ft. (10m). It grows very quickly and produces edible fruit. It has deeply three-lobed leaves with finely serrated edges and large, aromatic, beautifully intricate purple and white sweet-scented flowers that are from 2 to 3 inches across. All above ground parts of the plant are aromatic, with a strong sweet fragrance. Passion flowers bloom from June to September, and possibly later when it has been cut during the season. They have tendrils that attach to tall grasses or whatever they can hold of to climb. The passion fruit, when ripe is yellow-green and the size of a small hen’s egg.

 Passionflower is found from Virginia and Kentucky, south to Florida and Texas. It grows in sandy thickets and open fields, roadsides, fence rows and waste places. It has also naturalized out of its native range and can be found in Southern Illinois and other parts of the Midwest.
USDA Distribution Map

How to Grow Passionflower

  Passionflower is easily cultivated through root division or by seed, but cuttings rooted in water or sand are probably the easiest way to propagate it. It is said that it requires a well-drained soil, sandy slightly acid soil in full sun, but it can be found growing in southern hayfields in soil with a lot of heavy clay. A trellis should be provided for maximum growth and display, since it is a climbing vine with tendrils seeking something to latch on to.

 My experience has been that wild grown plants do not transplant well to a garden setting, most likely because Passionflower has a long tap root that usually breaks when one attempts to dig it up. Perhaps it is best to just bury ripened fruit, and cover with a little dirt to ward off foraging animals and birds, where you wish them to grow. A fertile soil, high in nitrogen, will produce large plants and leaves, but may not have as many flowers and fruit. In greenhouse cultivation, various heat treatments are used to increase germination. Richo Cech explains more about this in his book  The Medicinal Herb Grower, Volume 1 .

Continued on Page 2  Passionflower Folklore and History  ~ How to Harvest Passionflower ~ Helpful Books and Web Sites ~ Links to Clinical Studies