Passionflower is a beneficial calming herb that can be used as an alternative to prescription anti-anxiety medicines. Passionflower is native to North and South America, and is now grown all over the world. The plant was first introduced to Europe in the 1500s by the Spanish, who found it in Peru. The Incas, Aztecs and other indigenous peoples of the Americas used passionflower for anxiety and stress medicinally and also as a sedative. They did this for thousands of years, and the herb later gained wide use in European folk remedies as well. Passionflower has been indicated as a natural remedy for insomnia, anxiety, gastrointestinal upset, high blood pressure, and withdrawal syndrome from narcotic drugs. Read on to learn more about using passionflower for natural anxiety treatment.
The Science Behind Passionflower for Anxiety
One ingredient in particular, found in a number of passionflower species, is thought give the plant its calming properties. Passionflower contains beta carboline harmaline alkaloids, which are monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. MAOs are enzymes that break down several neutortransmitters, including serotonin (a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness). Thus, MAO inhibitors (MAOIs) can increase the availability of beneficial neurotransmitters, helping to regulate mood. MAOIs are a class of prescription antidepressants, but there are a number of natural sources of MAOIs as well, including kava, nutmeg and passionflower.
Some of the benefits of passionflower are that it:In 1985, Germany declared passionflower to be an effective treatment for “nervous unrest.” Since then, studies have shown that the effects of passionflower may be on par with those of harsher prescription anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines, with fewer negative side effects. Another study concluded that passionflower helped to ease the emotional effects of opiate withdrawal.
- Has anti-spasmodic properties
- Improves quality of sleep
- Reduces feelings of anxiety
- Contributes to a positive mood and sense of well-being
Using Passionflower for Natural Anxiety Relief
Passionflower is largely considered safe when taken in appropriate amounts, but it is not recommended in high doses. Side effects are rare, but can include dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion. Passionflower should not be taken when pregnant, as it can stimulate the uterus, and there are potential drug interactions to be aware of. It should not be taken with MAOIs, sedatives or blood thinners, and it’s always best to consult your doctor to ensure that any new supplement regimen is safe.
Passionflower leaves, flowers, and stems can all be used medicinally. The herb can be ingested in a number of ways, including:
- Homeopathic preparations
If you’re seeking alternatives to prescription anti-depressants and benzodiazepines, natural herbal remedies are a great place to start. Not everyone responds the same way to every herbal supplement regimen, but fortunately, there is no shortage of herbs for anxiety that you can try. Often it is a good idea to begin with herbs that are known for being mild yet effective, and passionflower certainly fits this description.
If you’ve taken passionflower for anxiety, feel free to leave a comment below discussing your experience.