Passion flower, also known as Passiflora incarnate, is a flowering plant that is used as an herbal remedy and nutritional health supplement by many people. This plant is native to the United States and a number of other areas of the world including China, parts of southern Asia and much of South America. The use of passion flower for anxiety relief is common among many people as is the use of this herb for the treatment of other health problems. Most medical doctors do not prescribe passion flower to treat anxiety due to insufficient scientific evidence of its effectiveness. Some individuals have reported that taking passion flower for anxiety treatment is as effective as some prescription anxiety medications.
Chemical substances in the passion flower plant can have a calming and sedating effect and may reduce muscle spasms in some instances. In many cases, people have used herbal passion flower products to treat generalized anxiety disorder. Some individuals have also taken passion flower for anxiety-related gastrointestinal symptoms such as an upset stomach. Insomnia and symptoms related to withdrawal from narcotic drugs may also improve with passion flower herbal treatment in certain cases. Other uses of the passion flower herb have included treatment of fibromyalgia, hemorrhoids and seizures by some individuals.
The use of passion flower for anxiety may cause side effects such as confusion, dizziness and a lack of muscle coordination. Blood vessel inflammation and an altered state of consciousness have also been reported by some people after they used passion flower. One individual experienced a rapid heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm and drowsiness as well as vomiting and nausea after taking this herb. Passion flower may cause uterine contractions that can be harmful to pregnant women and their unborn babies in some cases.
Doctors may recommend that patients discontinue use of passion flower in advance of scheduled surgeries. This caution is generally due to passion flower’s potential to cause unhealthy interactions with anesthesia during surgery. Passion flower may also interact adversely with prescription sedative medications and cause excessive sleepiness. Some central nervous system sedative drugs that can interact with passion flower include clonazepam and zolpidem.
Anxiety patients may find forms of treatment for their condition that are superior to passion flower. Some doctors prescribe antidepressants such as paroxetine, anti-anxiety medications such as buspirone or benzodiazepine drugs such as alprazolam to treat anxiety. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy may also be effective treatments for patients with anxiety in certain instances. Valerian root, hops and skullcap are herbal remedies that may be combined with passion flower in some natural herbal products and may be beneficial to some people with anxiety.