Considered one of the most potent nervines in the world, passionflower has earned an important place in Western herbalism.
The name, passionflower, originates from the “passion of the Christ” because its flowers resemble a crown of thorns.
One poet of the time wrote that passionflower was a witness at the crucifixion.
The Greeks, Japanese, and Israelis all call it clock flower because its uniform flowers resemble the face of a clock. Passionflower is truly a beautiful herb to behold!
The Aztecs of Mexico used passionflower for insomnia, nervousness, and as a pain reliever.
In Europe, homeopaths have long used passionflower for nerve pain, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, and hysteria.
Passionflower has a sedating and soothing effect on the nervous system. Similar to other nervines, passionflower works by increasing gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which relaxes the activity of brain cells.
The key calming constituents in passionflower include: flavonoids, glycosides, sterols, and volatile oil.
One double-blind pilot study shows passionflower is as effective as the drug oxazepam to ease generalized anxiety disorder.
Just 45 drops a day eased anxiety, but produced fewer side effects like impairment on the job than oxazepam.
An added bonus: Passionflower is non-addictive and does not muddy your thoughts.
As an herbal hypnotic (sleep aid), passionflower is regularly used in formulas to relieve insomnia, especially insomnia caused by racing thoughts.
Passionflower gently coaxes an overthinking mind and stressed out body to sleep.
Skilled herbalists combine it with other herbs like hops, such as in Sleep Nightly Tonic, to increase the benefits.
I find it’s helpful for people whose sleep is disturbed by mild palpitations, hot flashes, or anxiety.
Some people swear their dreams are even more vivid when they use it!
For people who have addiction issues to alcohol or nicotine, passionflower supports healthy recovery and decreases mild symptoms of withdrawal.
Some research shows passionflower can ease withdrawal symptoms caused by opiates when used in combination with the drug clonidine.
Still, this should be done with guidance from a physician because withdrawal symptoms can be serious.
Because it can relax the blood vessels and calm stress, passionflower can relieve pain for people with migraines or tension headaches.
Passionflower is also widely used by herbalists for PMS cramp relief, nerve pain, shingles, and muscle pain.
In addition, animal research finds passionflower is a valuable stomach aid, improving gastric ulcers caused by excess aspirin or alcohol.
Early research suggests passionflower has antioxidant activity and may help balance high blood pressure when it is triggered by stress.
The Germany’s Commission E approves passionflower as a treatment for nervous restlessness.
I use it in combination with skullcap for facial tics, muscle spasms, or twitches caused by mental overwork or too much caffeine.
Passionflower is very gentle and safe for most people. However, pregnant women should not use it because it can stimulate uterine contractions.
It works quickly, but gently, and can be used regularly to help calm the mind and bring the body back into balance from stress overload.