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.
For More Information
- Using Dietary Supplements Wisely
- Know the Science: How Medications and Supplements Can Interact
- Know the Science: 9 Questions To Help You Make Sense of Health Research
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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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NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.Last Updated: August 2020Share