For those looking for alternative treatments for anxiety symptoms, especially those of generalized anxiety disorder, one possibility may be passionflower. This plant is also known as Maypop, apricot vine, passion vine, or purple passion flower.
A a small study, passionflower was found to be as effective in treating symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as oxazepam (Serax). The study indicated that patients taking passionflower did not have as severe side effects as with oxazepam and their job performance, because of the side effects, was much less than it was in those taking oxazepam. However, passionflower took longer to work than oxezepam. Because this was such as small study (36 participants), the results would need to be tested with a larger sample of people to be considered reliable.
Side Effects and Interactions
Passionflower can have side effects, the most common are:
- Nausea or stomachache
- Increased heart rate
- Reduced cognitive function
Because passionflower has a sedating effect, it should never be taken with other sedatives, medications that cause drowsiness or alcohol as it can intensify the drowsiness and be dangerous. Other medications that should not be combined with passionflower include: anti-anxiety medications, MAOIs and anti-coagulants.
When taken in recommended doses, this medication may be safe and you may experience mild side effects, if at all. This medication may not be safe if taken in larger doses than recommended.
Dosing that has been scientifically studied for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder is either 45 drops of liquid extract per day or a 90 mg tablet per day.
Because herbal supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some supplements may contain either more or less of the herb than is stated on the packaging or the supplement may contain additional herbs not listed as an ingredient.
Passionflower should not be taken if you are pregnant. Some of the ingredients may cause your uterus to contract.
There is no studies of passionflower during breastfeeding but because it is not known whether this supplement would have an effect on your baby, it is best to not take passionflower while breastfeeding.
Passionflower contains some anti-coagulant properties. It should not be taken, if you are planning surgery, for at least two weeks prior to the surgery.
Passionflower, although an herbal supplement, can be considered a medication. As with all medication, there are side effects and drug interactions. You should speak with your doctor before taking this supplement and should notify all doctors that you are taking it before having any additional medications prescribed.
For more information:
“Integrative Therapies for Anxiety - Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)”, 2009, Aug 7, Scott Olson, ND, MentalHelp.net
Passionflower", 2009, Feb 25, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center | Sloan-Kettering Institute
“Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam”, Akhondzadeh S. et al, Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Oct. 2001
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.