Passion flower has been used for centuries as a natural cure. But science is just now figuring out why it works so well. In fact, recent studies have shown that passion flower works at least as well as a prescription drug in some cases. We took an in-depth look at passion flower, and exactly why it works so well.

What Does Passion Flower Do?

Passion flower works as an anti-anxiety supplement. It also helps users fall asleep, and relax in general. In the past, passion flower has also been used to treat epilepsy as well as relieve pain. In clinical studies, passion flower has only been proven to relieve anxiety and depression.

What Active Ingredients Does Passion Flower Have?

Passion flower has more than one active ingredient, but most of them are from the same class of drug. They’re called beta carbolines, and they’ve been used to treat depression and anxiety. Beta carbolines are monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs.

MAOIs like the sort found in passion flower have been used in a clinical setting. In specific, passion flower contains harmala and related compounds called harmaloids. These harmaloids are what cause the proven anti-anxiety effects of passion flower.

Passion flower also contains vitexin. Vitexin has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. In most passion flower extracts, vitexin makes up a relatively small amount of the active compounds. Mostly, passion flower extract is full of harmaloids.

Why Does Passion Flower Work?

Taking passion flower as a supplement works so well because of the MAOIs it contains, in addition to the other active ingredients like vitexin.

Monoamine oxidase is a chemical in our bodies that breaks down the neurotransmitter monoamine. Monoamine levels are sometimes lower than usual in people with depression and anxiety disorders. So, when you inhibit the breakdown on monoamine and allow it to build up, sometimes these anxiety disorders go away.

Passion flower’s diverse array of active ingredients means that science is still trying to understand why passion flower extract works so well.