American Passion Flower, primarily for sedation and pain relief

I originally planted this because of the exquisite beauty of the flowers - and have since fallen in love with the plant as a whole. Passion Flowers primary use is for sedation and pain relief - so its useful way beyond its beauty.


Passion Flower Passion flower is a fast growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems, from 10-30 feet long. Iíve heard it can reach upwards of 70 ft or more given proper environment. The vines of the passion flower often climb to the highest treetops and sends out an abundance of radiant white and purple flowers. Mine were planted alongside my chain link fence, and they quickly devoured the fence, creating a wall of plant fencing the yard, instead of the metal chains. Much lovelier to look at.

Solitary, axillary, white flowers with purple, blue, or pink calyx crown bloom from May to July - and if you live near the police department like I did, you have to watch out for the occasional officer that tries to pick the flowers to take home to his wife! Fortunately they learn that the flowers will close quickly after being plucked, so must be left on the vine to enjoy their beauty. The fruit is an edible, many-seeded berry (maypop) almost as large as a chicken egg. When stomped, it makes a loud pop!! The kids in the South love this little pass-time.

Passion flower grows wild in the southern United States, from Virginia and Florida westward to Missouri and Texas. Also cultivated in cooler climates; grows best in partial shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Native of Southern United States and the West Indies. Unfortunately Iíve not been able to keep mine alive through winters here, so have to replant it every year - although it is beginning to come back on its own - so Iím hopeful the roots are finally getting established on the farm.

The flower gets its name from a most interesting source. The priests who accompanied the conquistadors to the New World in the 16th century considered the discovery of this beautiful flowering vine in South America to be a propitious, God-given sign that Christianity would be well received in the new land. A Jesuit priest, Padre Ferrari, gave the plant its name because the various parts of the flower appeared to them to be symbolic of Christs' passion: the 10 petals represent the faithful apostles, excluding the traitor Judas and also Peter for his denial; the corolla symbolizes the crown of thorns; the 5 stamens stand for the 5 wounds; the ovary suggests the hammer with which Christ was nailed to the cross; and the styles with their rounded heads provide the nails. Because the natives relished the yellow fruit of the plant, the priests were encouraged in their mission, interpreting the eating of the fruit as symbolic of the Indiansí hunger for Christianity.

The chemicals in passionflower have calming, sleep inducing, and muscle spasm relieving effects.

If you live in an area where Winters are not severe, think twice about planting Passiflora where it can go wild. It has become quite a pest in some areas, and it is hard to eradicate once established.


My primary use of this plant (besides enjoying its beauty) is to use it as a primary ingredient in my herbal tea. I put it in the tea for its use as a pain reliever mostly as I have chronic pain from childhood injuries. Iíve found it wonderfully helpful with arthritic pain as well. Being unable to take most pharmaceuticals its important for me to have alternatives - particularly for pain relief. I also love the flavor - if you like the taste of green beans, youíll love the flavor of passion flower tea!

Passion Flower is a nervine, aphrodisiac, hypnotic, anti-spasmodic, anodyne, diuretic, and hypotensive. It has a depressant effect on CNS activity and is hypotensive. They are used for their sedative and soothing properties, to lower blood pressure, prevent tachycardia and for insomnia. It has been used for nerve pain such as neuralgia, for dysmenorrhea, diarrhea, and for the viral infection of nerves called shingles. It has also been used to treat urinary infections.

Passionflower is one of natureís best tranquilizers, recommended for times of extreme emotional upset.

Most commonly used for nervous conditions such as insomnia, restlessness, hysteria, mild depression, Parkinsonís disease, seizures, epilepsy, neuralgia, shingles, slightly reduces blood pressure, increases respiratory rate, good for muscle cramps, decreases motor activity, and nervous headache. Normally it is used as part of a prolonged treatment and in the form of professionally prepared medications. The fruit is rich in flavonoids and is diuretic and a nutritive tonic; fruits are edible and delicious.

Traditionally, the fresh or dried whole plant has been used as a herbal medicine to treat nervous anxiety and insomnia. In the form of a tea it may improve the subjective quality of sleep. The dried, ground herb is frequently used in Europe by drinking a teaspoon of it in tea.

Passionflower is used for sleep problems (insomnia), gastrointestinal (GI) upset related to anxiety or nervousness, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and relieving symptoms related to narcotic drug withdrawal.

Passionflower is also used for seizures, hysteria, asthma, symptoms of menopause, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), nervousness and excitability, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, and pain relief.

Some people apply passionflower to the skin for hemorrhoids, burns, and pain and swelling (inflammation).

Passionflower was formerly approved as an over-the-counter sedative and sleep aid in the U.S., but it was taken off the market in 1978 because safety and effectiveness had not been proven.

Native Americans poulticed the root for boils, cuts, earaches, and inflammation.

Medicinal Properties: Anodyne, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, hypnotic, nervine, sedative

Tincture: take 15 to 60 drops in water, as needed. For restlessness in children, give 3 to 10 drops in water every 30 minutes until results are obtained.

For insomnia: Tincture of Skullcap, 1 oz. and Tincture of Passion flower, 1 oz. Dose: 20-60 drops in water as required.


Passion flowers are easy to grow, but they can be difficult to over winter because their roots are prone to rot if kept cold and wet. In the wild passion flowers grow where the ground is exceptionally well drained. The ideal compost is a free draining, soil based mixture of equal parts sharp sand or gravel, medium or course peat and loam, rather than a peat based compost which can easily become waterlogged. By the same token, plants grown outdoors need well drained dryish soil which warms up quickly in spring. Established plants have a better chance of over wintering than very young ones. Many passion flowers can stand short periods of frost. If long periods are expected a little heat may be needed to prevent the roots being frozen.

Passion flowers have comparatively small root systems and, unless a massive plant is required, grow to a fair size in a 10in pot. Like many climbers passion flowers are greedy feeders when growing rapidly during the long summer days. Potting on as soon as necessary into a good well drained compost and regular feeding with high potash liquid fertilizer pays dividends.

You may experience problems growing passion flowers from seed. Like so many other tropical plants, passion flowers have not had to develop seed with keeping qualities as plants in temperate climates must do; there is no winter or dry season to overcome in the tropical rainforest where they originate. There are ways to improve the keeping qualities of passiflora seed but, in general, it is best to use fresh seed which germinates readily. Seed that has been stored for any length of time can take up to 12 months to germinate with less than 2 per cent chance of success. To improve germination, lightly sandpaper the seeds on one or both sides using fine sandpaper, then soak them in tepid water for 24 hours. Sow 2-5mm deep in peat or soil based seed compost. Temperature is probably the most important factor in germination, ideally at 68 degrees F for 16 hours and 86 degrees F for 8 hours each day. If this is not possible, then a constant temperature of 79 degrees F is advisable. Using this technique fresh seed germinates in two to four weeks and older seed in four to eight weeks.

Having germinated your seed and over wintered your young plants, your next goal is to get them flowering. As we know only to well, many plants grown from seed can take years to flower. Passion flowers are no exception. Although I cheated and bought plants from Richters, and they bloomed the very first year!

Cuttings are easily rooted, and are best taken in early spring as the days are lengthening. The tip or end shoot is the best and easiest to take. With a sharp knife or secateurs cut closely below the node of the first or second mature leaf from the end shoot. Carefully remove the bottom leaf and all the tendrils and flower stalks. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting powder and insert 1/2in deep into compost - 15 cuttings will fit into a 5in pot.

A mixture of 50 per cent sharp sand and 50 per cent sphagnum moss peat is an ideal cutting compost, but just sharp sand, vermiculite, Perlite or peat will do. Try to maintain soil temp of 65-70F. Cuttings will root at lower temperatures but may take a little longer. Many species and varieties will root on a warm windowsill, but it may be necessary to cover them with a clear polythene bag for the first week or so. Don't let the cuttings get to wet inside; either remove the bag for a while each day or make some small holes in it for ventilation.


Passion Flower is ruled by Neptune. Passion Flower brings calm, and it may be used Magically to promote calmness which is the result of personal transformation. It may be used as an incense to change the energy of a meeting place or as a wash for the floors or furniture if there is the potential for disagreements or stress. Passion Flower is sometimes added to ritual incense when celebrating the Autumn Equinox. Placed in a house, it calms problems and troubles and brings peace. Carried, it attracts friends and popularity. Placed beneath the pillow, it aids in sleep. Spanish missionaries believed the flowers were a symbol of Christ's crucifixion, and the crown of thorns of Christ's passion, giving this plant its name.

WARNINGS & endings....

Potentially harmful in large amounts.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Donít take passionflower if you are pregnant. It is UNSAFE. There are some chemicals in passionflower that might cause the uterus to contract. Not enough is known about the safety of taking passionflower during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and donít use it.

May cause drowsiness in some people, care should be taken in driving or operating machinery.

Should NEVER be boiled for internal use - can cause dangerous hallucinations. For teas and internal use, use the infusion method - bring water to boil, remove from heat source, place plant in water, cover and steep for 20 minutes, then use as needed.

Surgery: Passionflower can affect the central nervous system. It might increase the effects of anesthesia and other medications on the brain during and after surgery. Stop taking passionflower at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Passionflower can cause some side effects such as dizziness, confusion, irregular muscle action and coordination, altered consciousness, and inflamed blood vessels - these side effects most likely WILL be present if plant is boiled and taken internally.

Taking passionflower along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness. Using it along with other herbs that have the same effect, might cause too much sleepiness and drowsiness. Some of these herbs and supplements include calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John's wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.

Herbal link page

Ah yes... and the legal disclaimer - donít you hate these things? ó> The information contained in this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. <Ė ok, thatís done, hope you find this article useful!!

Gail Ann(573)

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