Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) was first grown and used by Native Americans in the Southern United States, like so many of our plant medicines. Passionflower has the flavone chrysin, which has wonderful anti-anxiety benefits and, in part, can work similarly to the pharmaceutical Xanax (Alprazolam) (2,3).
Two studies totaling almost 200 people showed no difference between the efficacy of common anxiety medications and passionflower, but showed that the herb may cause less drowsiness (4).
How to Dose Passionflower
Passionflower tea can be made by infusing 1 tablespoon of dried herbs in 1 cup boiling water. Let the mixture steep for about 10 minutes. Drink the tea near bedtime to induce restful sleep. More typically, we have patients use two droppers-full (about 50 drops) of tincture in warm water as a tea before bed. For people who are very anxious, they can take 25 drops as needed, and they may find it a reasonable substitute for Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications.
Passionflower is generally safe and has not been found to adversely interact with other sedative drugs. To be on the safe side, it should not be combined with alcoholic beverages or prescription sedatives.
Passionflower should not be used by pregnant or lactating women, or for children under 6 months old because there have not been any studies in these groups of people (5).
Who Should Use Passionflower?
In our practice, we find passionflower works best for people with anxiety who also have a lot of thoughts swirling in their head and experience a lot of circular thinking or obsessive thoughts.
The latin name passiflora incarnata translates as “passion made real.” As such, it can be a wonderful herbal reminder for people who have not found what they want to do in life and are anxious as a result. We find this herb can be helpful for young people in their 20’s looking for their calling in life.