True Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), also known as Wild Passion Vine, Apricot Vine, and Maypop, is a plant native to North America, where it was used first by Native American tribes.

It is a CNS depressant with sedative, calming, and soothing properties, which is prescribed for problems associated with stress, including nervous conditions such as tension and anxiety.

Medicinal Uses – Sleep Flower

In Homeopathy, Passiflora incarnata is used for its calming effects and to promote sleep.

In Western herbal medicine, it is prescribed for nervous unrest, as well as a:

  • strong hypnotic – relieves insomnia, easing the transition into restful, longer, and deeper sleep without causing next-day hangover. A 2011 double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that “consumption of a low dose of Passiflora incarnata, in the form of tea, yields short-term subjective sleep benefits for healthy adults with mild fluctuations in sleep quality.”
  • moderate hypotensive (lowers blood pressure)
  • antispasmodic (eases tension)
  • anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) – A 2001 double-blind, randomized controlled study found that Passiflora incarnata extract is an effective drug for the management of generalized disorder comparable to a benzodiazepine.
  • anodyne (painkilling)
  • calmative/relaxant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-depressant
  • antioxidant

It contains 0.1-0.5% alkaloids (out of which approximately 0.05-0.1% are harmala alkaloids) and flavonoids.

The flavonoids are especially concentrated in the leaves. One flavone, known as chrysin, which docks to the benzodiazepine receptor, like diazepam, explaining its anxiety-reducing and sleep-promoting effects.

Another flavonoid in Passionflower is isovitexin, present also in Cannabis.

Dreams & Lucid Dreaming

According to anecdotal evidence, for some people Passionflower has the side effect of inducing vivid and colorful dreams. One person reported:

all three evenings I slept like a rock and had very lucid dreams/nightmares. These dreams were so detailed and felt as if my consciousness was downloaded to another person and I was experiencing an episode in that person’s life or as if I was dropped into a movie and couldn’t get out. These dreams were exhausting and disturbing. […] Normally I dream and on occasion I have lucid complex dreams but nothing like the passiflora dreams.

To induce lucid dreaming, it can be combined with galantamine. The effects of this combination are described in the below report which involves the WILD, or Wake-Induced Lucid Dreaming technique:

I took 350mg passion flower before going to bed at night and set an alarm for 5.5 hours. It really helped me relax as I was going to sleep. Upon waking up I took an additional capsule of PF along with 8mg galantamine and meditated for about 10 minutes before attempting a WILD. After laying there for a while I started seeing colored blurs under my eyelids dancing around… (read more.)

Passionflower is said to have interesting synergy with, even potentiate, other sleep and dream plants, such as Calea ternifolia, Ilex guayusa, and Valerian.

Adverse Effects

Rarely, adverse effects, which may range from mild to severe depending on genetic factors and dosage, include:

  • Drowsiness & sleepiness
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Depending on dosage, the adverse effects may last up to 2 days after ingestion.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

How to use Passiflora? (Dosage, etc.)

All parts of the plant may be used in herbal preparations, including the flowers, leaves, fruit, and stems. The leaves appear to be most potent. Dry and crash the herbage to avoid ingesting cyandine.

To make an infusion, pour one cup of boiling water over 1-4 teaspoons (1 teaspoon weighs about 1 gram) of dried herb and infuse for 5-15 minutes.

Dosage: 4-8 grams per day; or 2.5 grams per cup of tea, taken 3-4 times daily.

Up to 15 grams for a cup of tea appears to be safe for most people.

It may take up to 2 hours for the sedative effect to be felt.

If the tea is taken to induce sleep, other sedating plants, such as Valerian, Hops, Lemon Balm, may be added.

Note that Passionflower may potentiate the effects of sedative drugs. Combining it with other drugs and medications, such as anti-depressants and blood-thinning anticoagulants, may be dangerous.

Do not use Passionflower during pregnancy and lactation.

Procuring Passiflora incarnata

Other Passiflora species that contain MAO-inhibiting beta-carbolines and may be useful for preparing Ayahuasca Analogs, many of them were employed by Indians from the tropical rain forests of Central and South America to where many of these plants are native.

They include:

  • Passiflora alata
  • Passiflora caerulea¬†(Blue Crowned Passionflower)
  • Passiflora capsularis
  • Passiflora edulis (Granadilla; Granadille; Maracuja; Yellow/Purple Passion Fruit) – In Brazil the fruit juice is used in the production of vinho do jurema, an Ayahuasca-like beverage containing DMT from Mimosa tenuiflora (Jurema). It is also used to prepare a sedating tea.
  • Passiflora eichleriana
  • Passiflora foetida (Amapola, meaning”opium”)in Mexico, 4 grams of the petals (the calyxes) are brewed with 200 ml of water as an opium-like tea to treat lack of dreams and overexcitability among other conditions.
  • Passiflora involucrata (Chontay Huasca) – the roots are used as an Ayahuasca additive to make the visions more intense.
  • Passiflora jorullensis (Coanenepilli)
  • Passiflora laurifolia – the leaves have sleep-inducing effects.
  • Passiflora quadrangularis (Tumbo; Bate) – the leaves are used to make a narcotic and sedating tea.
  • Passiflora rubra (Liane Zombie)
  • Passiflora subpeltata