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Passionflower is a vine that grows in warm areas of the southern U.S., Mexico, and South America. It's been used for centuries to try to treat sleep issues, boils, earaches, liver problems, and other ailments.

In the U.S. passionflower is available in a variety of forms, including:

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  • Capsule
  • Extract
  • Dried
  • Oil

Why do people take passionflower?

Passionflower has been used by some people to try to treat insomnia. But there is only some evidence that it works, mostly by lessening anxiety.

Today, supplements containing passionflower are often marketed as relaxation aids.

Passionflower is also taken by some people to try to relieve anxiety. Some small studies suggest that it may be helpful, though they are not conclusive.

One study suggests that passionflower may help people who are addicted to drugs such as heroin and morphine by lessening the anxiety they feel during withdrawal. But the researchers say their results need to be tested more before any conclusions can be drawn.

Another small study shows that passionflower may lessen anxiety among people about to undergo surgery.

Passionflower oils and extracts are sometimes applied to the body to try to treat hemorrhoids and burns. However, no studies have examined its effectiveness for such uses.

Can you get passionflower naturally from foods?

Passionflower extract is sometimes used to flavor foods. It is, according to the FDA, generally recognized as safe.

What are the risks of taking passionflower?

Several side effects have been reported, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Allergic reaction
  • Confusion

Passionflower may interact with certain medications. For example, it may increase the effects of pentobarbital and benzodiazepine drugs. Both of these drugs are used to lessen anxiety and insomnia.

Passionflower may also interact with:

  • Other sleep aids
  • Anticoagulant drugs

Passionflower should not be taken by pregnant women. That's because it may stimulate the uterus and potentially induce labor.

People expecting to undergo surgery should stop taking passionflower at least two weeks before the procedure. That's because passionflower may interact with anesthesia and other medication during and after surgery.

The FDA does not regulate supplements. If you take passionflower, be sure to tell your doctor. He or she can give you specifics about safety and drug interactions.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on January 09, 2013

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