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Does Passion Flower help for Sleep?

Updated on May 8, 2016

In the United States alone, between 50 and 70 million people suffer from sleeping disorders such as insomnia. Not being able to sleep is a serious problem that can affect your health and wellbeing in a number of ways. If you’ve been suffering with insomnia, you’ve probably tried a few different ways to fight it. From behavioral therapy to prescription medicine, there are lots of different sleep aids, and different ones work best for different people. If you’re looking for a natural insomnia remedy, you may want to try passion flower.

The History of Passion Flower

Passion flower grows natively in the Americas, and Native Americans, Aztecs, and Peruvians all used it for its medicinal benefits. In the 17th century, Spanish missionaries in Peru also discovered that passion flower has many benefits, and they brought it back to Europe with them. Passion flower was used then for the same purposes it’s used for today, to help treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Early modern Europeans also sometimes used it to treat seizures and indigestion.

The Benefits of Passion Flower

Passion flower’s primary health benefit is as a sedative. When ingested, passion flower increases levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that reduces activity in the brain. For this reason, taking passion flower calms your central nervous system and reduces stress and anxiety. This is what makes it a good sleep aid. A 2011 study found that people who drank passion flower tea before bed had notably better sleep quality than those who did not. If you take passion flower before bed, you will likely start to feel more relaxed. Using passion flower can also help you to treat general anxiety, which for many people is an underlying cause of insomnia.

How Passion Flower Works

Passion flower contains many different compounds, which makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what within the flower creates a calming effect. Some of the compounds passion flower contains are flavanoids, amino acids, sterols, volatile oil, alkaloids, and methanol extract. Some scientists believe the flavanoids and alkaloids increase GABA levels, while others propose that the amino acids are responsible. Hopefully future scientific studies will be able to pinpoint what exactly within passion flower makes it effective as a sedative and sleep aid.

Health Precautions

Passion flower is a natural remedy and is usually thought to be safe. The fact that it has been used for hundreds of years also suggests that it is relatively safe and beneficial. However, there is not much scientific research on what its possible side effects might be, so it’s impossible to say with 100% certainty that it doesn’t have negative side effects. If you’re concerned, and particularly if you’re taking other medication, you may want to consult your doctor before taking passion flower. It has not been approved for women who are pregnant or nursing, or for children.

How to Use Passion Flower as a Sleep Aid

Medicinal passion flower is made from the flower and leaves of the plant, not from the roots. It is available as both a dried mixture and as an extract or tincture. The most popular way to take passion flower is to drink it as a tea. If you’re using passion flower as a sleep aid, you can drink a cup of tea made with dried passion fruit (or with extract) about an hour or half an hour before going to bed. If you’re struggling with general stress and anxiety, you can make passion flower tea three to four times a day to help you feel calm.

What natural sleep aid have you used and do you prefer?

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