Passion flower is a dietary supplement that is used for treating insomnia, anxiety, and other conditions. It is not clear exactly how the herb works, but it may help reduce anxiety, cause sleepiness, and relax muscles. Potential side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and coordination problems. It is important to know that the safety and effectiveness of passion flower have not been established.
Passion flower is an herbal supplement most often used to treat anxiety and insomnia, although it is sometimes claimed to be helpful for other purposes as well. It was once a common ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) insomnia medications, but the FDA banned it from OTC medications in 1978 due to lack of evidence that it was safe and effective. Because herbal supplements are regulated differently (and less strictly), this herb can still be used in herbal supplements in the United States.
(Click Benefits of Passion Flower for more information on what it is used for, including additional passion flower uses.)
It is not exactly clear how it works. It seems that there are numerous different active compounds within it, and researchers are not sure which of these compounds are responsible for the sedative-like properties of passion flower. Some of the compounds may act like benzodiazepines, a group of prescription anxiety and insomnia medications, such as Valium® (diazepam). Research also suggests that some of the passion flower compound may also act like opiates (medications like morphine). Passion flower appears to have the following benzodiazepine- or opiate-like properties:
- Reducing anxiety
- Causing sleepiness
- Relaxing muscles
- Stopping seizures
- Relieving pain.