Passion flower

Our rating
 Question mark: This treatment has not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.


The rating system

  • 3 smiliesThese treatments are very useful. They are strongly supported as effective by scientific evidence.
  • 2 smiliesThese treatments are useful. They are supported by scientific evidence as effective, but the evidence is not as strong.
  • 1 smileyThese treatments are promising and may be useful. They have some evidence to support them, but more evidence is needed to be sure they work.
  • No smiley On the available evidence, these treatments do not seem to be effective.
  • Question markThese treatments have not been properly researched. It is not possible to say whether they are useful or not.
  • Exclamation MarkSafety or other concerns have been raised for the use of these treatments.

What is it?

Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is a type of plant similar to the plant that produces passion fruit. Passion flower can be dried and used to make tea or other herbal supplements. It is traditionally used as an alternative therapy to treat anxiety and help with sleep.  

How does it work?

Passion flower may work by increasing the efficiency of GABA, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) in the brain. GABA inhibits the activity of cells in the brain, so increasing its efficiency has an overall “slowing down” effect on the brain. This can relive anxiety, which is often experienced by people who have depression. It may also boost other chemicals in the brain that can affect mood (such as serotonin).

Is it effective?

There is very little scientific evidence on passion flower for the treatment of depression. Most of the research on passion flower has focused on treating anxiety disorders.

One study compared the effects of passion flower to another herbal supplement (St John’s Wort) in women who had symptoms of menopause, including depression symptoms. Women who took the passion flower supplement experienced a reduction in menopause symptoms (including depression symptoms) after three and six weeks of treatment. However, the study did not have a control condition to compare to.

Passion flower has not been scientifically studied as a treatment for people who have clinical depression.

Are there any disadvantages?

Herbal supplements, including passion flower, may have negative interactions with prescribed medications or other supplements. They should always be taken under the supervision of a health care professional.  If you are thinking of taking passion flower, ask your doctor or pharmacist it if might interfere with other medications or supplements you are taking.

Passion flower should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Where do you get it?

Passion flower can be purchased as a tablet supplement or tea from natural health retailers. 


Given the lack of evidence on passion flower, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for depression.

Key references

  • Fahami F, Asali Z, Aslani A, Fathizadeh N. A comparative study on the effects of Hypericum Perforatum and passion flower on the menopausal symptoms of women referring to Isfahan city health care centers. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research. 2010; 15(4):202-7.
  • Janda K, Wojtkowska K, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Skonieczna-żydecka K. Passiflora incarnata in neuropsychiatric disorders— a systematic review. Nutrients. 2020; 12(12):1-17.

Last reviewed and updated: 27 November 2023