Passion flower, also known as Passiflora incarnata, is a plant that grows mostly in tropical regions. It has been used in Traditional Western Herbal healing for hundreds of years. Its beautiful flower inspired Europeans missionaries to name it after “The Passion of the Christ.” While there are several species of Passiflora, the one most used as herbal medicine is the Incarnata.
While passion flower has historically been used by native peoples, and modern European and American herbalists, it is now sold in your local health food and mostly used as a mild antidepressant. While it can help some people with mild depression, it is mostly used for relieving tension in the nervous system, and relaxing tense states that are associated with “the blues” or stress.
It’s been known to calm muscle tension, improve mental function and twitching without affecting the respiratory system. We recommend it for people who have a hard time sleeping and those with emotional turmoil.
The passion flower plant is a gorgeous plant with heart shaped leaves and a flower that was used by the ancient Aztecs as a sedative and pain reliever. It’s mostly used for anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness, plus, it’s added to many nerve calming formulas such as Sunny Side Tea (a formula we make at Healing Waters Clinic) and Anxiety Soother (an extract from Herb Pharm)
The entire plant above the ground can be used, including the fruit, stems, leaf, and the flower. The fruit is more commonly known as the Maypop (the juicy fruit pictured here comes from the Passiflora caerulea species). The fruit contains all the seeds, so if you want to grow a vine or two in your yard, use the seeds from the fruit.
They will bring all the butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard. Passion flower that is blue does not have the same healing properties as Passiflora incarnata. If you grow your own, be sure it’s the right species.
Passionflower Precautions, Warnings and Dosage
Although, passionflower is great for calming the nerves, you should be aware that it should be used in moderation. Long term use is not recommended and of course, you should not take it if you’re taking medication for anxiety or depression. You can safely take 3 to 4 cups of tea daily or as a tincture.
There have been no reported side effect of taking passion flower other than those who took it for too long. It is said those users suffered with fatigue and mental fogginess. You can always discontinue use and try it again later if you have questions.
Always start out with a low dose and increase the amount to see how your body, nerves and mind respond to passion flower healing tea.
A little history of the passion flower
- It is the state flower of Tennessee
- It is one of our great Florida herbs!
- Its vine can grow up to 30 feet in length
- There are over 400 known species of Passiflora
- Most Passiflora is native to North, Central, and South America as well a Europe
Dr. Daniel F. Austin, author of Florida Ethnobotany, researched the passion flower’s name and found it resembled elements of the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Many years ago people believed:
- The leaf symbolizes the spear,
- The five petals and five sepals — the ten apostles
- The five anthers – the five wounds (on the cross)
- The tendrils – the scourges
- The column on the ovary – the pillar of the cross
- The stamens – the hammers
- The three stigmas – the three nails
- The filaments within the flower – the crown of thorns
- The calyx – the glory
- The white tint – purity (Coffey, 1993)
As you can see from the image below, it does seem to symbolize those things. Even though this tradition is appealing to some (but a stretch for others), science has shown the use of passion flower is helpful for body, mind and spirit health.