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Can’t sleep at night? Anxious? Try Passionflower.

by Tina Sendin September 14, 2019

Can’t sleep at night? Anxious? Try Passionflower.

TL;DR Passionflower may help you treat insomnia and anxiety, and brings about many other health benefits. Presently used as a sleep aid supplement, this exotic vine flower has been found by studies and researches to have calming effects, helping you sleep better and become less anxious.

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What is Passionflower? 

Native throughout the southern United States and South America, Passionflower is a climbing vine that has been used for its medicinal purposes. It’s part of the Passiflora family, which – interestingly enough – is also where passion fruit comes from.

If you’re wondering where the passionflower got its name, then here’s the low-down. 16th-century Spanish explorers found out about this flower from native Peruvians. When they saw some semblance to a crucifix, they thought of the final days of Jesus’ life – including his crucifixion – called “the Passion.”

Hence, passionflower. Cool etymology, right?

Passionflower is also known as maypop, apricot vine, passion vine, and passiflore. [1]

 

There are approximately 500 identified species of passionflower. These various species have been used since the 16th century for several medicinal purposes, like treating boils, wounds, earaches, and liver-related problems. [2

It’s used as a food plant, hence passion flower tea and passionflower extract, and other use of passionflowers as infusions, tinctures, liquid extracts, and teas.

Native Americans also used it as a mild sedative, with parts above the ground are made as medicine.

Of the hundreds of varieties of passionflower, Passiflora incarnata is the one that helps with sleeping better, easing anxiety and treating pain.

 

How does passionflower treat insomnia and anxiety?

How this exotic vine flower works in giving you better quality sleep or stop your mind from running anxious thoughts has something to do with GABA.

GABA – or gamma-aminobutyric acid – is a brain chemical that regulates mood. As an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA negates neurotransmitters that cause excitement. Passionflower works for insomnia and anxiety because it triggers the production of more GABA.

Long story short, passionflower calms your brain.

 

Passionflower helps you get better quality sleep

Studies show evidence that passionflower does, in fact, help treat insomnia. Here are just a few of them:

  • Early research shows that people who drink passionflower tea every night for 1 week straight, an hour before bedtime, experienced better-quality sleep. The same research suggests that when taken orally for 14 days, a product with a combination of passionflower, valerian and hops works pretty much like zolpidem, helping people with insomnia sleep. [3]
  • A 2014 study composed of insomniacs who also have bipolar disorder found that they experienced improvements in sleep after taking herbal medicines, including passionflower. The herbal medicines were seen to have reduced anxiety, bringing better sleep. [4]
  • A 2011 double-blinded, placebo-controlled study showed that patients who drank passionflower tea for one week showed a “significantly better rating” on sleep benefits compared to those who took the placebo. [5]
  • A research done in 2017 found that passionflower, specifically Passiflora incarnata (remember this from early in this article?) helped mice get positive effects on their sleeping patterns, making them sleep faster. It showed that passionflower led to “significantly increased slow-wave (deep) sleep, reduced rapid eye movement sleep.” [3, 6]

 

Passionflower eases your anxiety 

Beyond insomnia, passionflower also may just be as effective as other medicines in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). [3]

There are several studies and researches that showed how effective passionflower in keeping your anxious thoughts run wild: [7]

  • E-medicine cited researches showing that taking passionflower orally can work just as well as prescription medicines in reducing symptoms of anxiety. Interestingly enough, it also says that research suggests doing this can make a person less anxious before surgery, especially when orally taken 30-90 minutes before going under the knife. It can work as effectively as melatonin and midazolam, which are used for pre-operation meds.[3]
  • A proof of passionflower’s calming effects may be seen in a 2011 clinical trial, where it’s found to have similar anti-anxiety medication results in mice. Other animal studies also found the presence of sedative effects in passionflower, including one conducted in 2016 which suggests that it not only decreased anxiety but also improved memory in rats. [8, 9]
  • A 2008 study published in Anesthesia and Analgesia indicates that patients who are due for surgery reported fewer symptoms of anxiety after taking purple passionflower. [10]
  • Early research indicates that passionflower also results in fewer symptoms of ADHD among children aged 6-13 years old. This happens after taking passionflower orally for 8 weeks. Another study showed that it lessens nervous agitation among children when mixed with St. John’s Wort herb and valerian root. [11]

 

Other benefits of passionflower

Aside from treating insomnia and anxiety, passionflower also provides various health benefits:

  • Treats ulcers, indigestion, and diarrhea
  • Soothes pain
  • Easing menopausal symptoms, with reduced incidence of headache, depression, insomnia, and anger
  • Soothes muscle cramps
  • Relieves symptoms of narcotic drug withdrawal
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

 

Passionflower in combination with other calming herbs 

Due to its mild sedative effects, passionflower is the perfect complement for other calming herbs. In fact, it works so well that it’s commonly combined with others like valerian root, lemon balm, chamomile, hops, kava and skullcap. [3]

According to Dr Axe, passionflower combined with valerian is a powerful combination: [12]

Passionflower, combined with valerian root, may be one of the best combinations to help with insomnia and could be ideal, if you seem to have trouble turning off the brain at night, by calming the cells within it.

 

VALI Sleep Well

Sleep Well is an herbal sleep supplement made with that contains passionflower, valerian, lemon balm, chamomile and other natural ingredients safe for everyday use. Unlike other sleeping pills & OTC medicine, Sleep Well doesn’t make you dependent for sleeping. It uses ingredients backed by nature and proven by science to help you maintain a balanced sleep cycle schedule without damaging side effects.

 

Sources

[1] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-871/passionflower

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/calming-effects-of-passionflower

[3] https://www.emedicinehealth.com/passion_flower/vitamins-supplements.htm

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24947278

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21294203

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5542920/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770524/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941540/

[9] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.5578

[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18499602

[11] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23179673

[12] https://draxe.com/nutrition/herbs/passion-flower/




Tina Sendin
Tina Sendin

Author




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