Passion Flower: Definition, Benefits And Contraindications

Passion flower is popular for its sedative and anxiolytic properties and effects, similar to those of valerian.

Passion flower is appreciated for its beneficial properties as well as its beauty.
Passion flower is appreciated for its beneficial properties as well as its beauty.

Passion flower, also known as passiflora caerulea, its scientific name, is a flower with a lot of beneficial properties for the body. However, it is essential to keep in mind the contraindications it has, as well as notifying the doctor of its consumption.

In this article we will revise the main characteristics of passion flower, what are its properties and benefits, and its contraindications we have to pay attention to. 

What is passion flower?

The term passion flower belongs to a climbing plant, called Passiflora caerulea and to the family of the Passifloraceae.

It is considered one of the most elegant and distinguished flowers that can give any garden a decorative touch. It usually blooms in summer, and its aroma is very characteristic. 

The fruit they possess is usually edible, and it is known as passion fruit. It usually grows in tropical and subtropical areas of America, Asia, and Oceania. The name "passion lower" makes a biblical reference to the Passion of Christ because of the shape of this flower.

It is a plant that usually grows fast, and it can be found in places with a lot of light. It can also bear very low temperatures if they are well protected from the frost. When passion flower blooms, we have to water it very often and keep the substrate always moist, as well as prune them every month.

Although there are more than 400 species that belong to the Passiflora genus,  the variety used for medicinal purposes is called Passiflora incarnata. The plant can be found mainly in the south of the United States, India, and Western Indias, although passion flower also grows in Mexico, as well as Central and South America. Only the parts of the plant that grow above the ground are used as a medicine, fresh and dry.

Passion flower benefits

In the following lines, we describe the main uses and benefits of this medicinal plant, among which its therapeutic properties related to nervous states or anxiety stand out.

1. Acts as a natural sedative

Relaxing and sedative properties of passion fruit help the body to relax and promote sleep. Some alkaloid and flavonoid components help fight insomnia  and promote a much better quality of sleep. In combination with other sedative plants, such as valerian, it can be helpful in these cases. 

2. Anxiolytic properties

As an alternative and complementary element, it is very useful in daily anxiety or emotional stress cases.

If you take a hot passion flower tea, it can be very relaxing.  It can be used to relieve anxious and mental uneasiness symptomatology. However, it has not been scientifically approved to treat this kind of problems.

3. Spasmolytic function

When the central nervous system is depressed, passion flower prevents muscle spasms. It is also used in combination with the hawthorn to treat digestive spasms associated with colitis and gastritis. 

4. Has effects on the cardiovascular system

This flower has positive effects on our circulatory system as it helps reduce blood pressure in hypertension cases. When this happens, it is essential not to exceed the recommended dose to avoid the toxicity of this medicinal plant. 

5. Improves general mood

Passion flower is considered a medicinal plant that can help improve mood and reduce stress  we can suffer during our daily life. 

The effect it presents are immediate, and it does not produce tolerance or habituation. Flavonoids act on the nervous system but without exerting depressive effects on it.

Passionflower is used as a natural remedy to calm states of nervousness and anxiety.
Passionflower is used as a natural remedy to calm states of nervousness and anxiety.

6. Analgesic effects

Another benefit of this plant is its painkiller effects. Passion flower helps reduce the pain related to the nervous system such as headaches or migraines. It also relieves intestinal pains when these are caused by nerves.

7. Studies on cancer

In 2002, a team of American researchers published a report revealing that passion flower is promising as a cancer chemopreventive. Scientists discovered that the extract of this flower inhibits an early Epstein-Barr virus antigen, what suggests that it can also inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors. 

8. Has effects on Parkinson disease

Some herbalists also recommend passion flower as a treatment for Parkinson disease, due to the belief that the harmine and harmaline of the plant can help counteract the effects of the disorder. However, these statements are only considered speculative. 

9. Other benefits

Throughout its history, passion flower has been used to treat a great variety of medical problems such as epilepsy, diarrhea, neuralgia, asthma, whooping cough, convulsions, and menstrual cramps.


The passion fruit flower can have contraindications in combination with some medications because 2 of its alkaloids -harmane and harmaline- can increase the effects of some types of antidepressants, especially of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) which are used to treat depression, panic attacks, and eating disorders among other psychological disorders.

Passion flower cannot be taken with other sedative drugs, anxiolytics or antihistamines because of similar effects on the body. Although it has no side effects if taken in the proper doses, it can cause adverse reactions in people who are allergic to this flower.

Its use has contraindications on babies, pregnant women, or during the breastfeeding period because of the presence of fetotoxic alkaloids in its composition.

To finish, it is important to emphasize that although it has anxiolytic, sedative, and antidepressant properties, it should always be used with caution  and if symptoms of this nature are perceived, they should first be communicated to a specialized professional to rule out that they do not show a more serious psychological disorder.


Annussek, G., & Frey, R. J. (2005). Passionflower. In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 1556-1559). Detroit, MI: Gale.