Title Image



Passiflora incarnata L. – Purple passionflower, maypop
Passifloraceae family

The part used in medicine is the passionflower herb, harvested during blooming and quickly dried in natural conditions (shaded and ventilated).

Passionflower – appearance and origin:

Passionflower grows up to 10 m; the leaves are 3-lobed with tendrils growing out the angles, which enable it to climb and lean on othe trees. The flowers are large and fragrant, up to 5 cm in diameter, with an interesting shape. The fruit is edible and egg-sized. It grows in intertropical regions of America; also grown and feralized in Southern Europe; in Poland it is grown in greenhouses as an ornamental plant.

Passionflower – effects and use:

The passionflower herb contains a large group of flavonoids. They are mainly C-glycosides of apigenin and luteolin – vitexin, isovitexin, orientin, isoorientin and their glucosides – schaftoside,isoschaftoside, vicenin-2 and svertizin. Other ingredients are maltol and a cyanogenic glycoside, gynocardin. A small amount of the ingredient-rich essential oil (over 150 ingredients) determines the distinct smell of the herb. Tracte amounts of β-carboline alkaloids are sometimes detected, but these amounts are variable depending on the origin and maturity of the herb.

The passionflower herb is a sedative. Studies have confirmed this effect, but have not ultimately explained what determines it. The herb was also found to have antishock activity.

From 2001 to 2003 a number of studies were published, describing the pharmacological properties of the isolated methanol extract of the passionflower herb, new benzoflavone complex, with a benzene ring, in 6,7 position. In a dose of 10 mg/kg of mice body weight, administered orally, it had an anti-anxiety effect, and in further studies it prevented the development of dependencies and reduced withdrawal symptoms in case of existing dependencies. Passionflower was also revealed to be an aphrodisiac. In doses of 75, 100 and 150 mg/kg, it increased sexual activity in mice.

Compelling results of animal studies point to new opportunities of using passionflower extract for relieving coughing and asthma symptoms, although it requires further research. What might be immensely important to patients with dependencies are the results of studies on passionflower extracts and isolated benzoflavone in relieving nicotine, alcohol, cannabinoid and benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. Clinical trials confirmed the possibility to use passionflower for these indications, also in case of opiates.

It is important to note that passionflower herb extracts were found to be non-toxic and had no major side effects in patients.