Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Traditional Indications

Passionflower is antispasmodic, anodyne, hypnotic, hypotensive and nervine. It is a Central Nervous System depressant and hypotensive. Passionflowers are used for their sedative and soothing properties, to lower blood pressure, prevent tachycardia and for insomnia. Passionflower contains a flavonoid called apigenin, which is antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory and is a natural aromatase inhibitor, preventing oestrogen production in fat cells. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Passionflower is called Xi Fan Lian 西番莲. Xi Fan Lian warm and slightly bitter and enter the Heart Liver and Kidney channels to calm the Shen (spirit) harmonise the Heart and Kidneys and subdue Liver Yang. It is also said to dispel Wind-Damp, activate the Blood and alleviate pain. (2)


Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Passion Flower contains the flavonoids hispidulin, apigenin, and quercetin which all seem to modulate α1GABA receptors. GABA was found to be a prominent ingredient of Passiflora extract. Its principal role is reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. Passiflora extract shows anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo. (3)

Apegenin is a natural aromatase inhibitor. (4) Synthetic aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are successful in the treatment of postmenopausal oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

The extracts obtained from Passiflora incarnata have been studied and can be considered as appropriated sleep inducers. (5, 6) Passiflora extracts are a reliable sedative. Passion flower extract are an important factor in the phytotherapy of tenseness, restlessness and irritability with difficulty in falling asleep. (7)

1. PFAF. Passiflora incarnata 2019.
2. Medicine SWAaT. Passion Flower Xi Fan Lian 2019.
3. Elsas SM, Rossi DJ, Raber J, White G, Seeley CA, Gregory WL, et al. Passiflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. 2010;17(12):940-9.
4. Balunas MJ, Su B, Brueggemeier RW, Kinghorn AD. Natural products as aromatase inhibitors. Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry. 2008;8(6):646-82.
5. Guerrero FA, Medina GM. Effect of a medicinal plant (Passiflora incarnata L) on sleep. Sleep science (Sao Paulo, Brazil). 2017;10(3):96-100.
6. Ngan A, Conduit R. A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Investigation of the Effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) Herbal Tea on Subjective Sleep Quality. Phytotherapy Research. 2011;25(8):1153-9.
7. Krenn L. [Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata L.)--a reliable herbal sedative]. Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift (1946). 2002;152(15-16):404-6.



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