Passionflower for Anxiety Disturbed Sleep

Dr. Samantha Gray, ND RAc

There are numerous underlying causes of insomnia however one of the more distressing is anxiety and worry. Getting caught in a round of anxiety-laden circular thinking can be devastating to a good night’s sleep. One of the best herbal remedies to address insomnia of this nature is Passionflower.

Native to the tropical and semi-tropical regions of Americas, Passiflora incarnata has been used for centuries by First Nation peoples most specifically for its sedative, calming effects. This herb was eventually brought to Europe and widely cultivated for use to allay anxiety, sleeplessness and restlessness. Thoroughly researched Passionflower has now been shown to have parallel effect to the benzodiazepine oxazepam, without the negative side effects. Additional research has proven that Passionflower acts directly on the central nervous system through its action on the neurotransmitter GABA. This action lulls one to sleep by supporting normal sleep disturbed by anxiety or stress as opposed to forcing one to sleep. Given this specific indication, Passionflower may not be the herb of choice if there is a different reason for your insomnia.

Passionflower while very effective is also very gentle so that it can be used for both children and the elderly, ideally while under the care of qualified natural health practitioner since there are some drug-herb interactions that need to be considered. An additional benefit lay in the fact that the sedative, calming effects have their desired impact and then stop. The effects of Passionflower don’t linger beyond the time of need. There is no grogginess in the morning to deal with after a night of taking Passionflower for sleep. A note to consider when trying out this friendly herb: it is best to give Passionflower at least two tries to prove its usefulness as the second 24 hours is more effective than the first.

If generalized tension and worries are affecting your sleep, try Passionflower to support a good night’s rest that is so fundamental to general health and well-being.


Medical Herbalism: Materia Medica and Pharmacy, Paul Bergner, 2001

Akhondzadeh, S. H.R Nahavi et al (2001), “Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with osazepam”. J Clin Pharm Ther 26(5): 363-367.

Grundmann, O., Wang, J. et al (2008), “Anxiolytic activity of a phytochemically characterized Passiflora incarnate extract is mediated via the GABAergic system”. Planta Med 74: 1769-1773