Passionflower is a broad category of flowering plants that are used in herbal supplements to aid in relaxation and reductions in stress and anxiety and as a sleep aid by people with insomnia.
The long history of passionflower in herbal medicine is now being matched with modern scientific research into its specific beneficial health effects on relaxation, stress levels, and feelings of anxiety.
Our researchers have ranked and reviewed the ten best passionflower supplements on the market, plus put together a detailed guide to the benefits and side effects of passionflower supplements. Read on for more.
1. Oregon’s Wild Harvest Passionflower
Oregon’s Wild Harvest Passionflower delivers 400 mg of raw passionflower herb in an exceptionally simple vegan-friendly capsule derived from pullulan.
There are no binders, stabilizers, or preservatives, and on top of that, the passionflower is organically grown, so you don’t have to worry about synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Thanks to its great supplement design and purity, it’s our number one pick.
2. Herb Pharm Passionflower
Herb Pharm Passionflower is a liquid-based passion flower supplement that uses organically grown passion flowers as its source material.
For this reason, it’s the best-designed liquid passion flower supplement, though its alcohol content is higher than some of its competitors.
Still, even though it’s about 75% alcohol, the recommended dosage of 0.7 milliliters is so small that it’s unlikely to cause any problems.
Other than passion flower extract, the only additional ingredients are alcohol and water, so it’s definitely the best liquid form source of passion flower from a purity perspective.
3. Solaray Passionflower
Solaray Passionflower has a solid middle-of-the-road dosage of 350 mg of plant material per capsule. The capsules themselves are made from cellulose, and there are no binders or fillers, making it a simple and straightforward option for a capsule-based passion flower supplement.
4. Nature’s Answer Passion Flower
Nature’s Answer Passion Flower comes in a tincture of alcohol and water. This liquid passionflower supplement delivers 550 mg of plant extract per serving.
For a liquid supplement, the design is surprisingly clean: it only uses water, alcohol, and glycerine to keep the passionflower extract dissolved in the solution.
As with all liquid supplements, the convenience of a liquid format is counterbalanced by the difficulty of measuring out precise dosages.
In this case, you’ll have to count out 56 individual drops to get the appropriate serving size of two milliliters. At this dosage, the actual alcohol content is exceptionally low, so even people who are very alcohol-sensitive shouldn’t have any issues.
5. NOW Passion Flower
NOW Passion Flower comes in cellulose-derived capsules that deliver 350 mg of passion flower. In many respects, it is similar to many of its competitors; however, it loses some ground in the rankings because of its inclusion of silica as a stabilizing agent.
Those looking for a super-pure passion flower supplement without any additives will want to look elsewhere, but aside from the silica content, it’s a decent pick.
6. Secrets of the Tribe Passionflower
Secrets of the Tribe Passionflower is a liquid tincture of passion flower that’s distinguished by the fact that it’s completely alcohol-free.
It uses only water and vegetable glycerin to extract the biologically active compounds in passion flower. If you are on a strict no-alcohol regimen, it’s a good choice.
Moreover, the bottle is quite large, at four fluid ounces, meaning that this liquid passion flower supplement will last you quite a while.
7. Vitacost Passion Flower
Vitacost Passion Flower is a pretty standard 350 mg passion flower supplement, but unfortunately it slips further down in the rankings because its supplement design incorporates a few binders and stabilizers, and its capsule is gelatin-based.
While this isn’t an issue for most people, strict vegetarians and vegans will want to look at other options for a capsule-based passion flower supplement.
8. Starwest Botanicals Organic Passion Flower Leaf Powder
This one-pound resealable bag from Starwest Botanicals is the best bulk buy on the market, thanks to its organic certification.
However, the uses of bulk passion flower are fairly small. Unless you are weighing out your own doses with a scale that’s accurate to about 10 mg, or using passion flower in an herbal tea blend, you are probably better suited with a capsule or liquid-based supplement.
9. Bulksupplements Passion Flower Extract
Bulksupplements delivers its trademark super-pure and simple powder-form supplements in its passion flower extract: this powderized extract comes in a 250 gram resealable plastic bag.
However, due to the fairly small doses most people use for passionflower, it’s not particularly useful unless you are mixing up large batches of herbal preparations.
Even then, you’ll need a precision scale to measure out anything resembling a consistent dosage, so despite its purity, Bulksupplements is only recommended for niche users.
10. Puritans Pride Passion Flower Extract
Puritans Pride Passion Flower claims to deliver 1000 mg of passion flower, but it’s really 250 mg of a 4x concentrated passion flower extract.
Because of this, it’s hard to compare the dosage of this supplement to its competitors that truly deliver raw plant material.
When it comes to the extracted compounds in passion flower, most people would be better suited going with a liquid form passion flower extract, because the same compounds are contained in a solution with more flexibility in dosage.
If you are looking for raw plant material, there are plenty of better options on the market as well.
Passion flower benefits and side effects
Passion flower is a genre of flowering plants that are found throughout the Americas, and the material of this plant has long been suspected to have calming properties.
It’s become increasingly popular as a way to induce relaxation and keep feelings of stress and anxiety at bay thanks to endorsements by herbal medicine enthusiasts such as Dr. Oz.
Interestingly, passion flower also has an increasing body of scientific literature that supports its use as a treatment anxiety and stress. It compares well to alternative treatments for anxiety on a number of fronts.
Passion flower has been shown to reduce anxiety. Anxiety is a common mental health problem, and many of the mainstream treatments consist of heavy-hitting pharmaceutical drugs.
As such, there’s a lot of enthusiasm both among patients with anxiety and the doctors who treat it to seek out treatments that are effective and lack the side effects of strong anti-anxiety medications.
One study that showed the impressive promise of passion flower was published by a team of doctors in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia in 2008 (1). The study consisted of giving either a 500 mg passion flower supplement or a placebo supplement to a group of 60 patients prior to undergoing surgery.
As you might expect, preparing for and undergoing surgery induces quite a lot of anxiety, so this experimental design is a clever way to reliably induce feelings of anxiety in both the experiential and the control group.
The results showed that the passion flower supplement induced a significant and measurable reduction in symptoms of anxiety compared to the placebo.
Interestingly, though many people also use passion flower as a sedative or sleep aid, the researchers did not find that the passion flower supplement caused a deterioration in motor control skills, which is what you’d expect if the passion flower supplement was acting as a strong sedative.
Passion flower has sedative effects that might help with falling asleep and with treating insomnia. Beyond relieving stress and anxiety, passion flower also appears to have a sedative effect, which has lead many people to use it as a sleep aid.
As early as 1946, passion flower was recognized for its sedative effects in the scientific literature (2). According to a 2005 review article published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, passion flower has been found to have a reliable sedative effect in animals (3).
However, there have not been controlled experiments in humans to investigate the sedative benefits of passion flower yet—it’s not as well-researched as something like melatonin.
Still, many people report that passion flower supplements or passion flower tea are helpful for falling asleep and as a treatment for insomnia, and with some biological support from animal experiments, it could be worth a try for its potential sedative benefits.
Passion flower has a lower incidence of side effects compared to standard pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety. One randomized controlled trial published in 2002 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics compared passion flower extract with oxazepam, a standard drug, in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (4).
Thirty-six people with generalized anxiety were randomly assigned to receive either the passion flower extract or the standard drug treatment, and were followed over the course of four weeks.
The results showed that the two treatments were equally effective, but the standard drug, oxazepam, alleviated symptoms more rapidly. However, the patients taking oxazepam also had a significantly higher incidence of impairments and disruptions in their ability to go to work and perform on the job compared to the people using passion flower.
In other words, while it took longer for the effects to kick in, passion flower extract was equally effective after one month, and had a lower risk of impairing job performance compared to a mainstream drug treatment.
These findings agree with the pre-surgical study examined earlier: since passion flower relieves anxiety without causing a deterioration in motor skills as you’d see with a strong sedative, it’s less likely to impair job performance and cause other negative adverse effects.
According to the National Institutes of Health, side effects that are associated with passion flower include dizziness, confusion, and muscle weakness—though some of these might be ascribed to the potential sedative capabilities of passion flower, and whether they are “side effects” or primary effects depends a bit on your perspective (5).
The NIH further notes that passion flower has widespread use both alone and in combination with other supplements, and has not been linked to any instances of liver damage.
Research on appropriate doses of passion flower in humans is sparse, but evidence to date suggests that single doses of 500 to 750 mg of passion flower are likely effective.
The lower end of this range comes from research that has successfully used passion flower to treat anxiety, and the high end of this range comes from extrapolating doses in animal models (which are usually based on body mass) to the typical body mass of a human (6).
If you are using passion flower to treat anxiety, taking your passion flower supplement at the same time every day is probably the best dosing strategy. If you are using it as a sleep aid or treatment for insomnia, taking it before going to bed is going to be your best shot.
Passion flower is an herbal supplement that shows strong promise as a treatment for anxiety and additionally holds potential as a sedative and sleep aid for insomnia.
Doses of 500 to 750 mg seem to be effective at reducing anxiety, and while it may take up to four weeks for a passion flower supplement to have a significant effect on anxiety, passion flower has been shown to cause fewer side effects and less job impairment than standard treatments for anxiety.
Short-term studies have found that it can also have immediate effects on reducing acute anxiety, and animal research indicates that the sedative effects of passion flower could help with falling and staying asleep.
Passion flower is well-tolerated, and the only side effects associated with it are dizziness, confusion, and muscle weakness. Passion flower is one of the best herbal solutions for anxiety, and it has a lot of promise as a sleep aid as well.