Common Names: passionflower, maypop, apricot vine, maracuja, water lemon
Latin Names: Passiflora incarnata
- Passionflower is a climbing vine that is native to the southeastern United States and Central and South America.
- Native peoples of the Americas used passionflower as a sedative. Sixteenth-century Spanish explorers in South America learned of passionflower. The plant was then brought to Europe, where it became widely cultivated and was introduced to European folk medicine.
- Today, passionflower is promoted as a dietary supplement for anxiety and sleep problems, as well as for pain, heart rhythm problems, menopausal symptoms, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is applied to the skin for burns and to treat hemorrhoids.
How Much Do We Know?
- Passionflower’s effect on anxiety and other conditions hasn’t been studied extensively.
What Have We Learned?
- A small amount of research suggests that passionflower might help to reduce nonspecific anxiety and anxiety before a surgical or dental procedure, but conclusions are not definite.
- There is not enough evidence to say whether passionflower is helpful for any other health conditions, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, congestive heart failure, insomnia, and stress.
What Do We Know About Safety?
- Up to 800 mg daily of a dried alcoholic extract of passionflower has been used with apparent safety in studies lasting up to 8 weeks, but it may cause drowsiness, confusion, and uncoordinated movement (ataxia) in some people. Passionflower used in excessive amounts (e.g., 3.5 grams of a specific extract over a 2-day period) may be unsafe.
- Whether it’s safe to use passionflower topically (on skin) is not known.
- Passionflower should not be used during pregnancy as it may induce uterine contractions. Little is known about whether it’s safe to use passionflower while breastfeeding.
Keep in Mind
- Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.
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- Anheyer D, Lauche R, Schumann D, et al. Herbal medicines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2017;30:14-23.
- Miroddi M, Calapai G, Navarra M, et al. Passiflora incarnata L: ethnopharmacology, clinical application, safety and evaluation of clinical trials. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2013;150(3):791-804.
- Ozturk Z, Kalayci CC. Pregnancy outcomes in psychiatric patients treated with Passiflora incarnata. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2018;36:30-32.
- Passionflower. Natural Medicines website. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on April 3, 2020. [Database subscription].
- Sarris J. Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: 10-year updated review. Phytotherapy Research. 2018;32:1147-1162.
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