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Passionflower for Anxiousness

calm Apr 30, 2020

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., You've read Part 1 of this series and the introductory article about balancing GABA and glutamate, right? If not, head to those posts first.

Passionflower Benefits | Passionflower and Anxiety

The name “passionflower” may give you the wrong impression of this calming herb, which I consider to be one of the best herbal remedies for anxiety and insomnia. Exactly how it works is unknown, but it may be a mild MAO inhibitor (meaning it increases serotonin levels) or it may work through the GABA receptors.19

Passionflower has been effective in treating anxiety without the dependence that can occur with many medications. One study compared passionflower with a drug called oxazepam, which is similar to Valium or Ativan. The herb was equally effective with far less negative impact than the drug in treating anxiety.20

Passionflower Dosage & Use*

The dosage varies by manufacturer. Look for a product containing at least 0.8% flavonoids and take as directed on the bottle. It may be used 2 or 3 times per day, perhaps at bedtime (see side effects below). 

As with all of the therapeutic supplements/herbs, I do not recommend them for long-term use. Many herbalists advise taking “herb holidays.” This just means limiting use for 4-6 months, and then taking a couple of weeks or months off. Then, resume it only if needed.

Passionflower Side Effects*

There are no known interactions with drugs or other serious risks. As with many herbal products, it may occasionally cause drowsiness, stomach upset, or mild headaches. Taking at bedtime may help with those concerns.

Passionflower Supplements**

  • Calm Days contains 50 mg of passionflower (3.5% flavonoids) per capsule. It's a gentle herbal support to reduce everyday feelings of stress and anxiousness. We use it as an additional support for those with the Worried Mind subtype.
  • Calm Nights contains 75 mg of passionflower (3.5% flavonoids) per capsule. We use it as an additional support for the Anxious Mood subtype. It may also be a great fit for those who experience middle of the night waking. 

*Note: Some of the supplements discussed in this series can cause side effects, but many people tolerate them much better than prescription medications. They are generally considered safe, however, they should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision. If you are taking medication already, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these items. If you are considering going off medication, remember never to stop your medication suddenly—always consult with your doctor about how to safely taper off any psychiatric medication.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  


 

Sources:

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  8. Bystritsky, A., et al. (2008). A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(2), 175-180.
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  20. Akhondzadeh, S., et al. (2001). Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 26, 363-367.
  21. Yuan, C. S., et al. (2004). The gamma-aminobutyric acidergic effects of valerian and valerenic acid on rat brainstem neuronal activity. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 98, 353-358.
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