Passionflower for Anxiety: Does it Work?

Anxiety Disorder
Read Time: 5 Minutes
Written by:Bisma Anwar, MA, MSc, LMHC

Published On: September 27, 2023

Medically reviewed by: Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, MSW

Reviewed On: September 27, 2023

Updated On: September 27, 2023


Passionflower is a natural remedy used as a sleep aid for insomnia and a way to calm anxiety symptoms in some people. This perennial climbing vine is native to southeastern parts of the United States and Central and South America. It’s been used as an herbal medicine for centuries due to its healing properties for everything from wounds to earaches to its calming effect on the nervous system.

While more studies are needed, but some research suggests that passionflower might indeed have a positive impact on anxiety symptoms for some people.

Does Passionflower Really Work for Anxiety?

Research has shown promise that passionflower has positive effects on anxiety symptoms, but further investigation is needed to fully understand the efficacy and potential — and safety — of passionflower for anxiety

How passionflower works to reduce anxiety

Anxiety relieving effects of passionflower are thought to be due to a group of compounds called flavonoids. Some research shows these compounds can bind with specific receptors in the brain, leading to increased levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain linked to relaxation and mood regulation.

What research says about passionflower for anxiety

Multiple studies have examined the potential benefits of passionflower in treating anxiety. One study found that people who took an extract containing herbs, including passionflower, significantly reduced generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms. The study concluded that a large-scale trial was justified.

Another study that was a double-blind, randomized controlled trial found that people undergoing surgery experienced less preoperative anxiety when they were given oral doses of passionflower compared to those who received the placebo. In fact, the group that received passionflower had numerical rating scale (NRS) anxiety scores that were “significantly lower” than the placebo group.These and other studies suggest that passionflower anxiety relief might be a good option for some people. That said, more research is needed before we can truly understand the potential effectiveness and optimal dosing when using passionflower for anxiety

Possible Side Effects and Interactions

Like any medication or drug — even over-the-counter (OTC) or herbal remedies — it’s essential to be aware of possible side effects and interactions. You should always consult your doctor or mental healthcare provider before you start any treatment with passionflower for anxiety. Even supplements and herbs can cause various reactions, so knowing the following is critical.

Passionflower might be dangerous for the following people:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: We currently don’t have enough research on the safety of using passionflower for anxiety during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. It’s best to abstain from using it until we have more data and research.
  • People with low blood pressure: Passionflower can reduce blood pressure levels. If you are already taking medication or have been diagnosed with low blood pressure, ask your doctor before using this herb.
  • People with allergies to plants from the Passiflora family: If you’re allergic to plants from the Passiflora family, you might want to avoid using passionflower due to a potential for cross-reactivity.

Passionflower might cause drug interactions and adverse reactions. For example:

  • Sedatives: Passionflower was found in studies to have a sedative effect. Thus, it’s likely to enhance the effects of sedative medications like benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Taking passionflower with these drugs could lead to excessive drowsiness or slow breathing. Ask your doctor if you take any sedatives before combining them with passionflower.
  • Blood thinning medications: Passionflower might slow blood clotting, which can increase the risk of bleeding when you take it with an anticoagulant or antiplatelet lot drug.
  • Antidepressants: Passionflower has a compound known as harmala alkaloids, which may interact with certain antidepressants, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). This interaction can result in serious side effects.

iconExpert Insight

“There is a need for more studies and research regarding the efficacy of passionflower for mental health issues. You should always consult with your doctor before starting anything, including herbal supplements and teas for health reasons. There can be certain side effects you may not be aware of so it is better to get more information about it first.”
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), MA, MSc Bisma Anwar

How to Use Passionflower for Anxiety

If you’re thinking about using Passionflower for anxiety, make sure you understand the different ways you can consume it. Popular ways to take Passionflower include:

  • Tea or infused: Passionflower is often used to make teas or infusions. You can find passionflower tea in stores and online. The tea usually contains dried leaves and flowers from the plant. To make an infusion, simply steep 1 teaspoon of dried passionflower in hot water for 10 minutes before straining and drinking.
  • Tincture and extracts: Passionflower tinctures and extracts are highly concentrated forms that can be taken orally. They often come with droppers so you can add them to a beverage. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on proper usage if you use a passionflower tincture or extract in your anxiety management routine.
  • Capsules and tablets: Some people prefer to take passionflower in capsule or tablet form. This convenient option means you don’t have to worry about taste or measurement. Health food stores carry supplements, and you can also find them online. Be sure you always choose a reputable brand that uses high-quality ingredients. Note that the FDA does not strictly regulate dietary supplements like passionflower.

Passionflower vs. Other Natural Anxiety Remedies

If you’re looking for natural ways to relieve anxiety, explore passionflower and other supplements, herbs, and remedies to find the best treatment for your symptoms. Many other herbal supplements have also been linked to anxiety reduction.

Passionflower vs. valerian root

Valerian fruit root is another popular herbal remedy for anxiety and stress relief. Valerian root studies are related to increased GABA levels in the brain, similar to passionflower, helping to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety symptoms. Learn more about valerian root for anxiety.

Passionflower vs. ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb — which are herbs believed to help manage stress in the body and restore balance after an extreme stress response is triggered. It’s used to help the body manage stress by balancing cortisol levels and supporting adrenal function. Studies have found that adults with chronic stress who use ashwagandha supplementation were able to reduce their anxiety scores significantly.

There is no comparative study on passionflower vs, ashwagandha for anxiety relief. However, both herbs might benefit people experiencing anxiety symptoms — you should talk to your doctor to determine which might suit you. If you want to know more about the benefits of ashwagandha, learn more about ashwagandha for anxiety.

Passionflower vs. St. John’s Wort

Saint John’s Wort is an herbal supplement said to be used by some as a natural alternative to antidepressant medications. It’s thought to increase serotonin levels in the brain to promote happiness and well-being. Both passionflower and Saint John’s Wort might help to alleviate symptoms related to mood disorders like anxiety or depression. Comparing them is challenging since no significant bodies of research have looked at the benefits or risks of one compared to the other.

Ease Your Anxiety Symptoms with Talkspace

Finding treatments that can help alleviate your anxiety symptoms is crucial if you hope to deal with this condition. Natural remedies for anxiety might help. That said, you may find that it doesn’t work at all for you or that you need more than just passionflower for anxiety relief. It’s imperative that you seek to identify the cause of anxiety and learn coping tools to manage it.

Talkspace aims to help people cope with mental health conditions like anxiety. When you use Talkspace, you have a convenient, affordable, and accessible way to connect with licensed and experienced therapists. If you’re curious about how online therapy for anxiety works at Talkspace, reach out today.

See References

Bisma Anwar

Bisma Anwar is the Team Lead for the Talkspace Council of Mental Health Experts. A major focus in her work has been anxiety management and helping her clients develop healthy coping skills, reduce stress and prevent burnout. She serves on the board of a non-profit organization based in NYC called The Heal Collective which promotes advocacy and awareness of mental health issues in BIPOC communities.

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