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.
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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 – Passionflower for Sleep
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)
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.
Other than a powerful natural sedative, it is claimed that Passionflower can be used to prepare Ayahuasca Analogs thanks to the alkaloid content in its herbage (leaves and stalks).
Many species of Passiflora appear to contain the MAO-inhibiting beta-carboline alkaloids, including:
However, these alkaloids are often lacking from commercial Passionflower products, and are not required for the product to be effective medicinally.
Based on anecdotal evidence, Passiflora herbage may be effective as the MAOI component of an Anahuasca preparation or to potentiate other mind-altering drugs, however, a great amount of plant material has to be ingested, which inadvertently causes drowsiness, fogginess, and a “sick” feeling.
While Passionflower is not as good a MAOI as Syrian rue and Caapi, if you happen to have a huge vine in your backyard, you might as well put it to good use. Just be prepared to use A LOT of it. More information regarding dosage below…
Rarely, adverse effects, which may range from mild to severe depending on genetic factors and dosage, include:
- Drowsiness & sleepiness
- Abnormal heart rate
Depending on dosage, the adverse effects may last up to 2 days after ingestion.
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.
MAOI dosage: 15-450 grams. (Boiling with lemon/vinegar is necessary. Making a tincture is also possible.)
If you are familiar with your ideal Syrian rue/Caapi dosages, you can make the conversion by:
- multiplying your Syrian rue dosage by 40-80
- multiplying your Caapi dosage by 2-7
So if you’re comfortable with a 3 gram Syrian rue dose, you will need about 120-240 grams of Passionflower.
If your Caapi dosage is 50 grams, then take about 100-350 grams of Passiflora.
It may take up to 2 hours for the sedative effect to be felt, while the MAOI effect can begin within 20 minutes.
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.
Dried Passiflora herbage can be smoked on its own or as an ingredient of smoking mixtures. In fact, some people claim that “the MAOI effects of Passionflower, when smoked, are much stronger than when taken orally.”
When smoked, the herbage of Passiflora incarnata induces a very subtle marijuana-like, euphoric “high.”
As an anti-spasmodic, Passiflora may help lessen coughing when smoking oily plant material, such as Cannabis.
One sleep-promoting smoking blend (Yuba Gold) for example contains among its ingredients Passiflora incarnata as well as:
- Turnera diffusa (Damiana) – euphoriant
- Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) – sedative and stimulating effects
- Scutellaria lateriflora (Blue skullcap) – mild sedative and sleep promoter
- Mentha spicata (Spearmint) – provides good flavor in addition to relieving symptoms of bronchial and nasal congestion
Passionflower can also be used in “enhanced leaf” or changa preparations, herb mixtures which are enhanced with a DMT extract.
Adding Passiflora to such preparations makes the effect longer, slower, and more similar to an Ayahuasca trip.
Even smoking a bowl of Passiflora or taking a few drags from a Passionflower cigarette before smoking DMT are reported to be effective.
Smoking (as well as oral ingestion) of Passionflower can also potentiate other psychoactive plants, making the trip longer and stronger, including:
- Psychoactive cacti
- Psilocybe mushrooms
- DMT-containing plants, including Psychotria viridis, Mimosa hostilis, and Arundo donax
While dried Passiflora herbage can be smoked as is, some have recommended to extract the harmala alkaloids.
The process involves:
- Boiling the plant material in alcohol (e.g., vodka) and water for several hours. (Though water may be used alone.)
- Straining the plant material.
- Drying the liquid extract using low heat on a slow cooker.
Smoke the resulting brown caramel-like mass (which should weigh approximately 20% of the original) using a match, lighter, or torch in such a way to promote the boiling of the material, rather than burning it.
Effects onset: 5-10 minutes
Effects duration: up to 2 days
- relative to Syrian rue and Caapi, foggier and has a stronger anti-depressant effect
- a calm and inapprehensive state (useful before going on a psychedelic trip)
- closed eye imagery is at best hypnagogic (faint, moving outlines)
- hypersalivation (making for a particularly smooth smoke)
- limbs become heavy and lethargic and visibly tremble
- at higher dosages, dizziness and nausea set in
- a slight irritation of urethra and anus
Procuring Passionflower for Sleep
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.
- 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
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