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  • Hartley


Updated: May 5

brunette woman holding a passionflower with the text "did it chill me out?" on a white background

I recently went down a rabbit hole about the many treatment plans for women with “hysteria” throughout history.  If you aren’t familiar, this was the catchall diagnosis that doctors (cough, men) gave to women who were “too emotional.”

Or, as one Redditor put it: “It was used to "diagnose" women of all sorts of things. Silly woman wanted time away from the kitchen? Clearly she's hysterical. Crazy lady wanted the right to vote? Hysteria! She's crazy!”

If you’ve ever been horny, anxious, irritable, overweight, underweight, depressed or short of breath…then you too would have been certifiably hysterical.

Before modern medicine, we worked closely with herbs. Passionflower was a go-to for treating these hYstEriCaL women (can we just pause to acknowledge that your “treatment” ranged from being sent off with flower tea…to undergoing a hysterectomy and being institutionalized?).

So where am I going with this? Well dear reader, as I’m both anxious and an insomniac, I qualify as hysterical. 

Since my doctor is pressuring me to get off sleeping pills, I’m testing everything on the market…and I’m not above folk remedies. So did it take the edge off my jitters and induce zzz’s?

What is passionflower?

Passion fruit sorbet, tarts or cocktails…if you’ve ever savored this sweet and sour fruit, you’re already a fan of the passionflower plant. And it doesn’t just yield gorgeous berries but the most stunning purple blooms, which can be found from the southern states, all the way to Brazil. 

How does passionflower work for anxiety and insomnia?

I’m seeing a pattern here with my sleep supplement reviews: a lot of these remedies seem to work their magic by increasing GABA levels in the brain, which lowers the activity of certain brain cells, making you feel more relaxed. 

Scientists think that passionflower not only increases GABA levels but has additional effects on the cardiovascular and nervous system, which impacts body tension and anxious thoughts. But we don’t fully know: the evidence is largely anecdotal.

There are some studies with intriguing results: in one, patients who were given passionflower before surgery had less anxiety than those given a placebo and there’s another study where passionflower proved to be as effective as the drug oxazepam (Serax) for anxiety. But I must stress, these studies are small.

How does passion flower work for insomnia? The thinking goes: less anxiety = better sleep. Naturally.

How much passionflower should you take for sleep?

You can take passion flower as a tea, tincture or capsules. This translates to  1 tablespoon of dried passionflower at night (tea); 200 – 400 mg (capsules); or a tincture three times a day with 0.5-2 ml. Of course, consult your doctor.


When to take passionflower for sleep?

If it is being used as a sleep aid, it should be taken 30 minutes before bedtime.

What are the negative side effects of passionflower?

Side effects are rare but can include drowsiness, confusion, reduced coordination, nausea, headache, or rapid heart rate.

My experience with passionflower

The first night, I popped a passion flower pill with 350mg and found myself reaching for the light switch shortly after. I was chill, without being drowsy…so I didn’t catch any zzz’s until 2:30am. Not exactly a win.

But since all the studies involved taking passionflower for at least a week, I kept the faith and upped my dose to 400mg. Night after night, I continued to pop my little flower pills in the hope that I’d succumb to their ancient magic.

Long story short: no dice.

The verdict

While I enjoyed feeling more chill, passionflower just didn’t deliver the goods when it came to sleep. I find it interesting that it’s in nearly every natural sleep aid on the market and yet, in isolation, I can’t honestly sing its praises.

So while it might be a great option if you struggle with anxiety, for those with big time sleep issues, you might not see much impact on the time it takes to count sheep.

Now did I feel any less HyStEriCal?? Pretty sure I’d need a lobotomy for that.

So tell me: have you had any success with natural sleep aids? If so, which ones? Drop a comment.

Psst. Which natural sleep aid did I love WAY more than passionflower? Check out this review.


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