What Is Passionflower Tea Good for and Are There Any Side Effects?

  • Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber, MD
Medically Reviewed on 11/1/2022

What is passionflower tea? 

The passionflower plant is well known for its sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Passionflower tea may lead to dizziness, drowsiness, mental slowing, vomiting, nausea, and confusion.
The passionflower plant is well known for its sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Passionflower tea may lead to dizziness, drowsiness, mental slowing, vomiting, nausea, and confusion.

If you're looking for a herbal tea with calming effects, then passionflower tea may be a good choice for you. While not as popular as peppermint tea or chamomile tea, it has a long history of being used as a herbal remedy by many indigenous cultures around the world. Studies have found several health benefits of passionflowers, including an ability to reduce insomnia and anxiety. But like with any other herb, check with your doctor before taking this tea to make sure that it has no side effects on your health. 

The passionflower is a climbing vine native to the southeastern United States. The parts of this plant  — especially those above the ground — are used for making herbal supplements and flavoring agents. For example, its bright white and purple colored flowers are used for making passionflower herbal tea. You may also find passionflower extract being sold in the form of infusions, tinctures, and capsules.

The scientific name of the passionflower plant is Passiflora incarnate. All around the globe, it's known by various local names, including apricot vine, fleischfarbige, fleur de la passion, granadilla, maracuja, maypop, passionblume, and wild passionflower. 

Well known for its sedative and anti-anxiety effects, it has long been used as a folk medicine in Brazil, Turkey, Iraq, and various parts of North America.

Studies suggest that passionflower herbal products have a calming effect owing to their ability to raise the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a natural amino acid whose main role is to block specific signals and reduce the activity of the central nervous system — resulting in improved mood and a relaxed mental state. 

What are the ingredients in passionflower tea? 

The various benefits of passionflower tea result from the health-boosting chemicals present in its plant. Some among them are maltol, flavonoids, and indole alkaloids. The herbal tea is also rich in active ingredients like umbelliferone, vitexin, chrysin, and coumarin. These substances are powerful antioxidants — meaning they can help protect your cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage, reducing your risk of inflammatory disorders.

What are the health benefits of passionflower tea?

Passionflower tea can have various positive effects on your health. These are some of the main benefits of having it:

May improve sleep quality. Several studies point to the effectiveness of passionflower herbal products in treating insomnia. In one study, patients with bipolar disorder who had trouble sleeping were given various herbal medicines, including those containing passionflower extract. At the end of the study, patients were found to have improved sleep quality and reduced symptoms of insomnia.

In another study, taking a low dose of passionflower in the form of tea resulted in considerable improvement in sleep quality for the patients. So, if you find it hard to fall asleep, having such herbal tea could help. For better results, you could also add other herbs like valerian root in your passionflower tea — a combination that's known to be very useful for treating insomnia. 

May reduce anxiety. Most studies on the medicinal use of passionflower herbal products for treating anxiety have been done on animals like mice. These studies offer strong evidence that the extract of this plant has powerful anti-anxiety effects when taken in doses ranging from 75 to 300 mg/kg. The highest effect has been seen at the dose of 125mg/kg.

Clinical trials involving people with generalized anxiety disorder have shown similar positive results. According to these studies, oral ingestion of passionflower extract can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. In fact, this herbal remedy has been found to be as effective as traditional anti-anxiety medicines like oxazepam. This plant extract has also been found to be as good as drugs like midazolam and melatonin — medicines given to patients to reduce their anxiety before surgery.

May help with the symptoms of menopause. Studies have found passionflower herbal products to be an effective alternative to traditional hormonal therapy. It has been seen that passionflower extract could help with various menopausal symptoms including night sweats, hot flashes, headaches, anger, and insomnia. Taking this herbal remedy could also help to reduce menopause-related anxiety and depression by raising the levels of GABA in the brain.

May help to lower blood pressure. Research shows that various parts of the passionflower plant are effective against hypertension. One study showed that taking passionflower skin extract amounting to 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight helped significantly reduce blood pressure. Similarly, passionflower fruit pulp has been found to be helpful for lowering systolic blood pressure. 

But since studies using passionflower tea are lacking, it can't be said with certainty if the herbal tea would have similar effects on blood pressure. 


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Are there any side effects of passionflower tea? 

Products made from passionflower are usually considered safe and nontoxic. But keep in mind that such herbal products and supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

While studies have shown no major side effects of taking passionflower tea, having more than the recommended dose could lead to dizziness, drowsiness, mental slowing, vomiting, nausea, and confusion. Since this can affect your functioning, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery after having such a calming tea. Also avoid taking this herbal product before surgery unless it's recommended by your doctor, as it can double the effect of anesthesia drugs.

Pregnant women also shouldn't take oral passionflower products. Since some chemicals in this plant can cause the uterus to contract, taking this during pregnancy can lead to early labor and other complications. There's a chance of passionflower herbal products interacting negatively with other medications, so make sure to check with your doctor before adding such natural remedies to your daily routine. 

How to make passionflower tea

You can make passionflower tea by steeping this dried herb (or tea bag) in boiling water. The steeping time can range from 6 to 15 minutes, depending on how strong you want your tea to be. Since this tea has a mild flavor with grassy earthy notes, you can add honey to sweeten your tea. You can also add any other relaxation-inducing herb to make your own herbal tea recipe. 

You can have 1 to 2 cups of this tea in a day. If you plan to have passionflower tea to improve your sleep, make sure you take it an hour or two before going to bed.

Medically Reviewed on 11/1/2022

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry: "Clinical applications of herbal medicines for anxiety and insomnia; targeting patients with bipolar disorder."

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry: "Antihypertensive Effect of an Extract of Passiflora edulis Rind in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats."

Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research: "A comparative study on the effects of Hypericum Perforatum and passionflower on the menopausal symptoms of women referring to Isfahan city health care centers."

Phytomedicine: "Passiflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method."

Phytotherapy Research: "A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality."

ScienceDirect: "Passiflora incarnata."

Winchester Hospital: "Passionflower."