Passionflower is a relaxing herb that is native to Arkansas and other southeastern states. It is a close relative of passion fruit, but that species doesn’t have the calming action of passionflower. Even though the plant is named passionflower, we actually use the leaves of this vine before it flowers. One of the most common uses of passionflower is to ease mild cases of anxiety. Some even use it for depression associated with obsessive-compulsive tendencies or circular thinking. It is also used for insomnia, especially when the sleep issues are related to worry or overwork and exhaustion. Passionflower may also increase the quality of sleep.
The key to using passionflower is that it works best for symptoms where there is either restlessness or nerve irritation at the root of the problem. It mildly eases pain, especially nerve pain. Passionflower can also help relax muscle spasms. It has even been shown in studies to reduce the tendency for seizures. Other studies have shown the use of passionflower to ease mental symptoms associated with drug withdrawal, including nicotine and alcohol. Passionflower has also been used for heart palpitations that are related to nervousness.
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Laurell Matthews, ND is a naturopathic doctor with a passion for helping people understand how to be healthier using dietary and lifestyle changes along with other natural medicine modalities like botanical medicine.