Passionflowers are known for their exquisite flowers and delicious fruits, but these plants have more to offer than good looks and taste. Both the fruits, flowers, and vegetation of the passionflower plant provide numerous uses and benefits. This plant can help improve sleep, provide food for caterpillars, and relax restless minds. Want to know more? Stick with us as we cover the uses and benefits of passionflowers.
1. Passionflowers Can Improve Sleep
While there are many different species of passionflower, most of the research involving sleep has focused on the purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). People have used the plant’s flowers to help them relax and lull them to sleep.
If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, drinking passionflower tea or taking a passionflower extract may help with insomnia problems.
One 2011 research study investigated the effects that drinking purple passionflower tea had on sleep. Participants were divided into two groups: one group consumed passionflower tea for a week, and the other consumed a placebo. The group that consumed the passionflower tea reported improved sleep.
2. Passionflowers Can Reduce Anxiety
People have long reported that passionflowers can improve anxiety, and research backs this up.
In 2001, researchers compared the effectiveness of the common anti-anxiety drug Oxazepam with that of passionflower extract. Individuals that were diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were given either Oxazepam and a placebo extract or a placebo pill and passionflower extract over the course of four weeks.
Results showed that while Oxazepam acted more quickly, both treatment methods impacted anxiety similarly. Furthermore, passionflower extract caused less job impairment.
While the above study sought to determine the impact of passionflower on chronic anxiety, other researchers have questioned the effectiveness of the plant for treating acute, circumstantial anxiety.
For example, another study investigated the effect that passionflower had on pre-surgery anxiety. Two groups of surgical patients were formed; one was given an extract of Passiflora incarnata, and the other group was given a placebo. The group that received the passionflower reported lower levels of preoperative anxiety without experiencing higher levels of sedation.
3. Passionflower Provides a Host for Caterpillars
Passionflower plants serve as a host plant for various caterpillars. These caterpillars feed on the plant’s leaves before they pupate and emerge as butterflies.
Some of the species that utilize passionflower plants as host plants include the gulf fritillary (Dione vanillae), zebra longwing (Heliconius charithonia), banded hairstreak
(Satyrium calanus), red-banded hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops), and variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia).
Planting passiflora species in your yards can help provide a way station and food source for these caterpillars. Plus, many adult butterflies will use passionflowers as a food source.
4. Passion Flower Covers Arbors and Trellises
Passionflower vines are a great choice if you’re looking for a beautiful and hardy plant to cover structures like arbors and trellises. These vining plants can climb up these objects and add a beautiful, natural feel to your garden.
You can find a passionflower native to many regions in the Americas, making them both a hardy and environmentally beneficial option. The plants will produce beautiful flowers as well as delicious fruits.
Passionflower plants are also perennials, meaning they will come back each year.
5. Passionflower May Help with Opiate Withdrawal
Withdrawal from opiates can lead to unpleasant symptoms, including sweating, restlessness, watery eyes, anxiety, and hot flashes. Medical professionals often use the drug Clonidine to help reduce these withdrawal symptoms.
While Clonidine can help with these symptoms, pairing it with passionflower can improve treatment.
A 2001 study investigated the effects that pairing passiflora extract with Clonidine had on opiate withdrawal symptoms. While the extract did not impact the severity of physical withdrawal symptoms, it did help further reduce mental withdrawal symptoms.
6. Passionflower May Help with Seizures
People have long used parts of the passionflower plant to help with seizure severity as well as post-seizure symptoms. However, people have not conducted much research regarding the effectiveness of this treatment method.
With that said, scientists have investigated the impacts that Passiflora incarnata has on mice experiencing seizures. Results showed that passionflower extract can decrease the severity of seizures. Study results also showed that mice that received passionflower extract maintained similar levels of serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain.
Another mice study showed that passionflower extract reduced the length of seizures.
Since there hasn’t been much research on the effects of passionflower on seizures in humans, it’s hard to say the exact effect this plant has on humans. However, some scientists believe that passionflower can modulate gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain.
Since GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that can slow and stop messages, it may help with convulsions and anxiety related to seizures.
7. Passionflower Provides Delicious Fruit
After the beautiful passionflowers are pollinated, they develop into interesting fruits known as passion fruit. The fruits are round or oblong and vary in color depending on the species.
When you cut open a passion fruit, you’ll discover a mass of jelly-colored seeds. You can eat these seeds whole or squeeze them to make a sweet and tart juice. People sometimes use the juice as a base for a jelly or use the seeds in baked goods.
Passion fruit contains a moderate amount of vitamin C as well as small amounts of iron, phosphorus, vitamin B2, and vitamin B3.
8. Passionflower Produces Beautiful Flowers
Even if passionflower plants didn’t provide any environmental or medical benefits, their beauty alone would justify their presence in your garden! These flowers are some of the most mesmerizing and gorgeous flowers you can find.
The flowers are round and have rather normal-looking petals, but they also have a distinctive corona, stamens, and pistil.
Most passiflora species produce flowers that only bloom for one day. However, the plants produce multiple flowers, so you can enjoy multiple days of blooms.
9. Passionflower Provides Food for Pollinators
The large and bright passionflower blooms attract a variety of pollinators. Bees, butterflies, moths, flies, and hummingbirds pollinate some of these flowers.
These critters visit these plants to obtain pollen and nectar and pollinate the plants as they feed. This leads to the development of passion fruit.
10. Passionflower Can Help Regulate Mood
One amazing potential benefit of the passionflower is its strong relation to a neurotransmitter known as GABA. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it can block and slow some messages from reaching the brain. While this may sound bad, it means that GABA can help regulate extreme swings in mood and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Scientists believe that passionflower impacts how GABA moves throughout the body. Passionflower also contains GABA, so consuming passionflower will increase the amount of GABA in your body.
All this means that consuming passionflower may help you regulate your mood and keep it more stable.
11. Passionflower Can Help with ADHD Symptoms
One eight-week study suggests that passionflower may help with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study reported that children who consumed passionflower experienced similar benefits to children that were treated with methylphenidate.
This study also reported that passionflower led to fewer adverse side effects than methylphenidate. For example, children in the methylphenidate group experienced a greater decrease in appetite as well as more anxiety.
12. Passionflowers are Rich in Meaning and Symbolism
Passion Flowers are said to represent the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. There are five petals and five sepals on Passion Flowers. These represent the ten faithful apostles who stood by Jesus in the period leading up to the crucifixion.
The Corona filaments that grow in a ring above the sepals and petals symbolize the crown of thorns. There are three stigmas that are said to represent the three nails that were used to hang Jesus on the cross. The five anthers represent the five wounds Jesus had when He was crucified.
For non-Christians, the Passion Flower still has symbolic meaning in the language of flowers. Passion Flowers are a host for butterflies, which symbolize hope and care for delicate beings. Some people also look at the color of the Passion Flowers to determine the meaning of an individual plan.
Passionflower Uses and Benefits Wrapping Up
Passionflower (Passiflora genus) is a group of vining plants known for their gorgeous flowers. However, passionflower can also provide benefits to the environment as well as human health.
If you are interested in exploring the potential health benefits of passionflower, please consult with your physician.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.