If you find yourself anxious, edgy, and you can’t stop thinking about your worries, the beautiful passionflower herb can bring you back to feeling centered and calm. Let me share the benefits of passionflower and how to use passionflower to soothe your frazzled nerves.
“Anxious and shaky, it seems any little thing can push me over the edge. My brain won’t stop, and my thoughts keep repeating. I can feel the rapid flutter of my heart, and sometimes my hands tremble. I’m tense, easily upset, and find myself over-reacting with family and at work. I’m exhausted, physically and mentally, but my brain and body won’t let me rest.”
Does this sound familiar?
What do you do when you feel anxious, wound up, and thoughts keep circling, circling through your mind? We all deal with anxiety and worry on occasion. But when we start to feel intense anxiety, are easily overwhelmed and constantly on edge, we end up losing our ability to concentrate, we over-react to stressful situations, and eventually we become physically and emotionally exhausted.
Self-care is important for managing the stresses of life – the more we are struggling, the more self-care we need to practice. Of course, when we are overwhelmed and anxious, it’s nearly impossible to focus on good health habits.
Finding Relief – The Benefits of Passionflower
Calm, peaceful, and centered, we can navigate challenges with grace. But deep in the chaos of life, how can we possibly find our way to peace and calm?
Medicinal plants, when used as part of a holistic approach to health, can help ground us and bring relief from the powerful feelings of overwhelm and anxiety so many of us are struggling with.
When we’re feeling stressed, we need a way to calm the sympathetic “fight or flight” response and bring more peace and clarity back into our days. Passionflower is one of those special plants that helps soothe anxious and frayed nerves.
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Passionflower for Anxiety – Passiflora incarnata
However, if you are experiencing difficulty with chronic worry and anxiety, cyclical thinking where you can’t seem to stop repetitive thoughts, feeling easily distracted, feeling overstimulated or “wired and tired”, and unable to fall asleep at night, passionflower can offer you relief.
According to herbalist Matthew Wood,
“Passionflower is one of the most important remedies for overstimulation of the mind, excessive thinking, and chatter in the brain.”
Passionflower is a nervine – it has direct effects on the nervous system. It helps calm the sympathetic, or “fight or flight” response. The active properties in passionflower act on levels of a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is believed to have a naturally calming effect and there is research supporting its benefits including:
- Anxiety relief
- Improved sleep
- Improved focus in ADHD
There is quite a bit of research demonstrating the effectiveness of passionflower in treating anxiety. When passionflower extract was compared to the prescription anti-anxiety medication oxazepam, passionflower was found to be just as effective as the medication, but without the side effects (source).
How to Use Passionflower
Passionflower is a beautiful flowering vine. When I first saw passionflower, I thought for sure it must be an exotic tropical plant and I was surprised to learn it’s actually native to the southeast United States. I am able to grow passionflower as a perennial here in central Virginia. If growing your own herbal medicine is something you are interested in, you can read more about Starting Your Medicinal Herb Garden – 5 Herbs to Grow in Containers and Gardens.
The leaves, flowers, and stems are all used to make teas and tinctures. Both fresh and dried passionflower can be used. I prefer to make my own teas and tinctures, but you can purchase passionflower extracts and supplements if that is more convenient for you. I recommend HerbPharm – they have a Passionflower Tincture, and you can also purchase dried, organic passionflower from Starwest Botanicals.
To make a tea, combine (about) 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried passionflower with 1 cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain off the herb and enjoy your tea. For anxiety, drink 2 to 4 cups a day. For insomnia, drink 1 cup one hour before bedtime. (Many of the commercial tea blends for sleep contain passionflower extract.)
Cautions and Contraindications
According to some sources, pregnant women should not take passionflower – the active compounds may stimulate uterine contractions.
Although passionflower itself won’t make you sleepy, it may increase the effects of alcohol or sedative medications.
Don’t Forget Self-Care!
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.” ~May Sarton
If you’ve been reading or following me for any time, you know that I am all about a holistic approach to health. Herbal remedies are a wonderful way to support our physical, emotional, and mental health. But relying on the herbal remedies for a quick fix is not a holistic approach to health and wellness. We must learn to slow down, support our health with good food and good relationships, and take time for self-reflection.
Matthew Wood, The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, 2009