Passion Flower

dried passion flower with blurry background - smokable herbs
Dried Passion flower

The dried flowers, leaves, and stems of passion flower are used to promote well-being, calm, and relaxation. The plant is traditionally used to fight anxiety and insomnia. When smoked, passion flower immediately causes feelings of sleepiness and is frequently used in herbal blends to cure insomnia.

Overview

The passion flower is not only admired for its beauty and religious significance, but for its powerful sedative qualities.

Passiflora incarnata, also known as maypop, purple passion flower, true passion flower, wild apricot, and wild passion vine, belongs to the Passifloraceae genus and is native to southern parts of America. It produces brilliant, showy flowers with a distinctive corona. 

Traditionally used as a remedy for promoting calm and treating seizures, hysteria, and anxiety, passion flower is still renowned as a relaxant and sedative. It is used as a tea, supplement, and smokeable herb.  

History

Passion flower was first used by the Aztecs of Mexico as a folk remedy for anxiety and insomnia. The Algonkian Indians in Virginia and Creek people in Florida were said to have eaten the fruits of the plant, as did the European settlers later on.

The flower was named when  Hernando Cortez conquered Mexico in the 16th century and the priests and soldiers who accompanied him thought that the whitish-purple flowers of the vine symbolized the Passion of Christ. They believed the corona in the center of the flower was Christ’s crown of thorns, and the five stamens represented the number of Christ’s wounds. The flower’s tendrils were the whips used to beat him, and the five petals represent 10 of the apostles.1 The Spanish explorers believed that the passion flower was a symbol of Christ’s passion and therefore an indication of his ‘approval’ for their expedition.

The use of Passiflora as a medicine was first noted by a Spanish researcher Monardus in Peru in 1569. As well as a sedative, Native Americans used passionflower to treat boils, wounds, earaches, and liver problems.2

Later in America, passion flower became approved as a sedative and was sold over the counter as a sleep aid. However, science failed to prove its effectiveness and safety, and it was taken off the market in 1978. 

Medicinal Benefits

When used in traditional medicine, passion flower is often combined with other herbs and used as a sedative to promote relaxation and calmness. Its flavonoids and alkaloids are believed to stimulate the central nervous system (CNS) in the same way as MAO inhibitors, a type of antidepressants that are no longer used due to the availability of antidepressants with few complications. 3

  • Relieves anxiety and restlessness
    Some researchers have claimed that Passiflora incarnata exhibits its effects by modulating the GABA system. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter involved in regulating communication between brain cells and plays an important role in behavior, cognition, and the body’s response to stress. Low levels of GABA have been linked to schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

    It’s suggested that passionflower’s flavonoids bind to the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor, increasing the concentration of GABA in the brain and producing a feeling of relaxation. 4
  • Reduces anxiety before surgery
    Some research shows that taking passion flower tea or tincture 30-90 minutes before surgery can reduce anxiety. Some reports claim it may be as effective as pharmaceutical treatments for pre-operative anxiety such as melatonin or midazolam. 5
  • Reduces symptoms of opiates withdrawal
    The anxiolytic effects of passion flower have made it a potential alternative to clonidine, a drug used in the detoxification of opiates. One study showed that taking passiflora alongside clonidine helped reduce negative side effects, making it a potential agent for managing withdrawal symptoms. 6

  • Improves sleep
    Animal studies have shown that passion flower extract significantly helps to increase total sleep time and significantly decrease wakefulness. Passion flower appears to shorten sleep latency and increase short-wave sleep, making it an effective sleep inducer and a potential remedy for insomnia. 7

  • All-round relaxant
    Passionflower’s anxiolytic properties have been used in treating other conditions aggravated by stress and anxiety, including attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pain, fibromyalgia, hypertension, asthma, and some gastrointestinal ailments.

You might be interested in this article about additional benefits of passion flower

Method of use / dosage

All the parts of the passion flower plant above the ground can be used as medicine.

Passion flower tea

Passionflower tea helps to soothe the nervous system, ease an anxious mind, relieve headaches, and promote restfulness. A teaspoon of fresh or dried leaves is added to boiling water for around 10 minutes and taken 1-2 hours before bedtime.

Passion flower supplements

Passion flower capsules of 400 mg extract have been used to treat anxiety, with a dosage of twice daily for 2-8 weeks. 8
Liquid extract can be given at a dosage of 45 drops daily for up to one month. For pre-surgery anxiety, 20 drops of a specific passion flower extract or 5ml passion flower syrup (containing 700 mg of passion flower extract) can be taken 30-90 minutes before the start of surgery.

Smoking passionflower

Smoking the dried leaves of passionflower are reported to produce a high similar to that of marijuana. It is also said to have a similar grassy smell, but an earthy flavor and pleasant, smooth smoke. Some sources recommend it as a complement to cannabis in order to balance out the stimulation from high-THC strains. 9

Smoking passion flower is also touted as an excellent alternative for those trying to quit nicotine.

Effects of smoking

Passionflower’s therapeutic effects are thought to be due to its beta-carboline alkaloids, which are CNS stimulants, serotonin antagonists, hallucinogens, and short-term MAO inhibitors. Concentrations of small doses of these substances such as harmaline (25-50mg) are shown to be mild cerebral stimulants, and can sometimes produce a drowsy or dreamy state for 1-2 hours. Larger doses (up to 750mg) may result in hallucinogenic effects. 10


In 1985, pseudonymous writers Gracie and Zarkov described their experiences with smoking extracts of passionflower, Syrian rue and Banisteriopsis Caapi in combination with synthetic DMT as “not particularly psychedelic or hallucinogenic. One feels calm.”  11

They also noted that the calming effect of smoking passion flower can produce a significant change in facial expression, lethargy in the limbs and some trembling. Higher dosages may lead to dizziness and nausea without an increase in the high. Some ‘hypnagogic’ visions can be noted, along with a noticeable antidepressant effect, possibly due to the combination of alkaloids. 12

The high comes on and stabilizes after about 5 to 10 minutes or smoking, but remains only a ‘foggy’ high. 

Side effects

Passion flower is generally safe when used as a tea, and can be consumed nightly for up to a week without side effects. It can also be safely taken as a medicine for up to 8 weeks.
Some common reported side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion, while there have also been reports of irregular muscle action, altered consciousness, nausea, rapid heart rate, vomiting and inflamed blood vessels.
Smoking passion flower may also lead to slowed reaction time and drowsiness, so it’s advisable to avoid driving or operating heavy equipment.

It should not be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Legal status

Passiflora incarnata is not under any control in the United States or internationally. The leaves, flowers and extracts can be cultivated, bought, and distributed without a license or prescription. 

References

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12 thoughts on “Passion Flower”

  1. This didn’t have much effect on me apart from sweetening the flavor of my bowl. It’s a nice flavor enhancer, but I felt no other effects.

  2. Passion flowers combos very well with cannabis, making it’s high both more potent and calmer (as it works as a GABAergic and weak MAOI). I personally found its smoke very harsh, but as you get used to it its tolerable.

  3. Passion flower hasn’t done much for me. It has a sweet taste and goes down well. It’s pleasant to smoke, but has not effects on me even when I smoke a full pipe of it.

  4. I have anxiety, depression, ibs, colitis, gerd, and chronic back pain. I can’t take medication because it makes me sick to my stomach and I got a cannabis card to try that and it upsets my stomach as well. What herbs can I smoke (or use in other ways, but I prefer to smoke) to help me?

    Also my best friend has chrons disease that’s really bad and she doesn’t have many options left is there anything that can help her as well?

    Thank you!

    1. I’ll do some research, maybe someone here will be able to assist me.
      At the top of my head, I know anxiety might be the cause of depression and chronic back pain.
      I believe cannabis is right for this, you might wanna try it as an herbal tea if it upsets your stomach.

      I’ll get back to you, thanks.

      About your friend:
      I know Gotu Kola is believed to have regenerative properties.
      Gotu Kola and Yarrow Flower are mentioned in this article on bowel disease.

    2. Try yoga therapy for most of the issues you are dealing with. I teach yoga therapy & got into it because of lower back issues from a car accident. It has helped me tremendously. I have also seen yoga therapy help people with a variety of issues. I hope this helps to point you in the right direction & I hope you find a good yoga therapist. Namaste.

    3. It seems that you and I are on the same track as far as ailments. I’m registered with the state (Florida) but all the dispensaries can offer is a little bit of something for a lot of money. So I go to my guy down the road who imports from Colorado. Cheaper than legal and much stronger. That’s what I need for relief.
      As for Crohn’s disease, my younger brother passed at the age of 45 due to complications with his disease. Since there are no effective pain relievers on the market that can be had without needless and costly doctor visits in order to get a handful of real medicine, I have much sympathy for your friend. My only suggestion is pot. It can be delivered to the body in many ways so perhaps try a different route of ingestion. Best of luck.

    4. For the depression and anxiety i suggest either microdosing or macrodosing psychedelics such as LSD or Magic mushroom(psilocybin)

    1. Penn Herb is a very good website. Most stuff on the site here can be bought there cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found

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