Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora

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(Passiflora incarnata)

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Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora PLANT

Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora, Maracuja - Passionflower - Passiflora


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  • Family: Passifloraceae
    Genus: Passiflora
    Species: incarnata, edulis
    Common Names: Maracuja, passionflower, carkifelek, charkhi felek, maypop, maypop passionflower, saa't gulu, ward assa'ah, zahril aalaam, granadilla, passionvine, maracoc, apricot-vine, saa't gulu, ward assa'ah, zahril aalaam
    Part Used: Vine, Leaves, Stem

    From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

    Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • relieves pain
  • kills germs
  • Leaves
  • reduces anxiety
  • enhances libido
  • Infusion: 1 cup 2-3 times daily
  • relievs depression
  • increases urination
  • Capsules: 1-3 g 2-3 times daily
  • reduces inflammation
  • lowers blood pressure
  • stops convulsions
  • expels worms
  • reduces spasms
  • calms nerves
  • mildly sedative
  • tranquilizes

    Passionflower is a hardy woody vine that grows up to 10 m long and puts off tendrils, enabling it to climb up and over other plants in the rainforest canopy. It bears striking, large white flowers with pink or purple centers. The flowers gave it the name passionflower (or flower of passion) because Spanish missionaries thought they represented some of the objects associated with the Crucification of Christ. The vine produces a delicious fruit which is about the size of a large lemon, wrinkling slightly when ripe. Passionflower, called maracuja in the Amazon, is indigenous to many tropical and semi-tropical areas - from South America to North America. There are over 200 species of passionflower vines; the most prevalent species in the Amazon are Passiflora edulis and P. incarnata.


    Passion fruit is enjoyed by all rainforest inhabitants -humans and animals alike. Several species of Passiflora have been domesticated for the production of their edible fruit. The yellow, gelatinous pulp inside the fruit is eaten out of hand, as well as mixed with water and sugar to make drinks, sherbet, jams and jellies, and even salad dressings. Indigenous tribes throughout the Amazon have long used passionflower leaves for its sedative and pain-relieving properties; the fruit is used as a heart tonic and to calm coughs.

    Passionflower was first "discovered" in Peru by a Spanish doctor named Monardes in 1569 who documented the indigenous uses and took it back to the Old World where it quickly became a favorite calming and sedative herb tea. Spanish conquerors of Mexico and South America also learned its use from the Aztec Indians and it eventually became widely cultivated in Europe. Since its introduction into European herbal medicine systems, passionflower has been widely used as a sedative, antispasmodic and nerve tonic. The leaf infusion was introduced in North American medicine in the mid 1800's as a sedative through native and slave use in the South. It was also used for headaches, bruises and general pain; applying the bruised leaves topically to the affected area. In many countries in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, the use of passionflower leaves to tranquilize and settle edgy nerves has been documented for over 200 years. It was also employed for colic, diarrhea, dysentery, menstrual difficulties, insomnia, neuralgia, eye disorders, epilepsy and convulsions, and muscle spasms and pain.


    Chemical analysis on passionflower indicates it contains three main groups of active chemicals: alkaloids, glycosides and flavonoids. Interestingly, when the glycosides and flavonoids are isolated and tested individually they have demonstrated the opposite effects for which the plant is commonly used for. Only when the two groups of chemicals are combined as a whole herb, do researchers observe the plant's sedative effect. Passionflower also contains naturally occurring serotonin as well as a chemical called maltol which has documented sedative effects (and which might explain the natural calming properties of passionflower). A group of harmane alkaloids in passionflower have demonstrated antispasmodic activity and the ability to lower blood pressure. In addition, a flavonoid named chrysin has demonstrated significant antianxiety activity.

    The main plant chemicals in passionflower include: alkaloids, alpha-alanine, apigenin, aribine, chrysin, citric acid, coumarin, cyclopassifloic acids A-D, cyclopassiflosides I-VI, diethyl malonate, edulan I, edulan II, flavonoids, glutamine, gynocardin, harmane, harmaline, harmalol, harmine, harmol, homoorientin, isoorientin, isoschaftoside, isovitexin, kaempferol, loturine, lucenin-2, lutenin-2, luteolin, n-nonacosane, orientin, passicol, passiflorine, passifloric acid, pectin, phenolic acids, phenylalanine, proline, prunasin, quercetin, raffinose, sambunigrin, saponarin, saponaretin, saponarine, schaftoside, scopoletin, serotonin, sitosterol, and stigmasterol.


    Passionflower (as well as its harmane alkaloids) have been the subject of much scientific research. After almost 100 years of study the sedative, antispasmodic and analgesic effects of this tropical vine have been firmly established in science. The analgesic effects of passionflower were first clinically documented in 1897 while the sedative effects were first recorded in 1904. Antispasmodic, anti-anxiety and hypotensive actions of passionflower leaves were clinically validated in the early 1980's. An extract of the fruit demonstrated anti-inflammatory and tranquilizing effects in animal studies. Also, a leaf extract has also shown to have diuretic activity in rats.

    Passionflower has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac and recent clinical studies with mice have verified this use as well. In a 2003 study, a leaf extract was reported to improve overall sexual function, increase sperm count, fertilization potential and litter size. Its traditional use for coughs has also been recently confirmed. In a 2002 study with mice a passionflower leaf extract was shown to be comparable to the cough suppressant action of codeine.


    Passionflower is widely employed by herbalists and natural health practitioners around the world today for its sedative, nervine, anti-spasmodic and analgesic effects. In the United States, P. incarnata is the species most used to treat insomnia, muscle cramps, hysteria, neuralgia, menstrual cramps and PMS, and as a pain reliever in various conditions. In Europe, it is employed for nervous disorders, insomnia, spasms, neuralgia, alcoholism, hyperactivity in children, rapid heart beat, headaches, and as a pain reliever and antispasmodic. In South America, P. edulis is the species most used as a sedative, diuretic, antispasmodic, for convulsions, alcoholism, headaches, insomnia, colic in infants, diarrhea, hysteria, neuralgia, menopausal symptoms and hypertension. In South America the fruit juice is also used as a natural remedy to calm hyperactive children, as well as for asthma, whopping cough, bronchitis and other tough coughs. In Peruvian traditional medicine today, passionfruit juice is used for urinary infections and as a mild diuretic.

    Passionflower leaves are classified as "Generally Regarded as Safe" by the FDA. They are the subject of various European monographs for medicinal plants and are generally regarded as safe even for children and infants.

    Main Preparation Method: infusion

    Main Actions (in order):
    antidepressant, analgesic (pain-reliever), antispasmodic, sedative, central nervous system depressant

    Main Uses:

    1. for mood disorders (depression, anxiety, stress)
    2. for insomnia and sleep disorders
    3. for headaches, migraines and general pain
    4. for stomach problems (colic, nervous stomach, indigestion, etc.)
    5. to relieve menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
    Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
    analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, cough suppressant, aphrodisiac, cough suppressant, central nervous system depressant, diuretic, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), sedative

    Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
    anticonvulsant, antidepressant, astringent, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), disinfectant, nervine (balances/calms nerves), neurasthenic (reduces nerve pain), tranquilizer, vermifuge (expels worms)

    Cautions: It may cause drowsiness or have a tranquilizing effect.

    Traditional Preparation: The leaves are typically prepared in standard infusions. Dosages are 1 cup 2-3 times daily. Two to three grams in tablets or capsules 2-3 times daily can be substituted if desired.

    Contraindications: None reported.

    Drug Interactions: None reported.

    Brazil for alcoholism, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, cough, constipation, convulsions, delirium, depression, diarrhea, flu, gout, headache, heart tonic, hemorrhoids, hyperactivity, hypertension, hysteria, infantile convulsions, insomnia, irritability, menopause, menstrual disorders, nervous disorders, nerve pain, rheumatism, stress, ulcers, urinary insufficiency, whopping cough, worms(intestinal), and as a pain-reliever, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and sedative
    England for anxiety, eye problems, headaches, hypertension, hysteria, insomnia, muscle problems, nerve pain, nerve weakness, pain, restlessness, spasms, and as a relaxant and tranquilizer
    Europe for agitation, anxiety, asthma, insomnia, irritability, menopause, menstrual disorders, nervousness, pain, palpitations, restlessness, stress
    Peru for epilepsy, heart problems, hypertension, insomnia, muscular spasms, nervousness, tetanus, and as an aphrodisiac and sedative
    Turkey for epilepsy, insomnia, menstrual disorders, neuralgia, neurosis, spasms, and as a sedative
    South America for burns, colic, depression, diarrhea, dysentery, epilepsy, eruptions, eye disorders, headache, hemorrhoids, hyperactivity, hypertension, hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, menopause, menstrual disorders, nervousness, nerve pain, neurosis, pain, seizures, skin problems, spasms, worms, and as an aphrodisiac, diuretic, and sedative
    U.S. for agitation, anxiety, asthma, burns, depression, diarrhea, epilepsy, headache, hypertension, hysteria, inflammation, insomnia, menstrual disorders, mood disorders, nervous complaints, neuralgia, seizures, shingles, spasms, and as a aphrodisiac, pain-reliever, sedative, and tranquilizer
    Elsewhere for anxiety, asthma, epilepsy, heart problems (palpitation, tachycardia) hypertension, hysteria, insomnia, menstrual disorders, mood disorders, neuralgia, nicotine addiction, pain, sexual dysfunction, shingles, spasms


    • Mowrey, Daniel. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. Keats Publishing, Inc New Canaan CT. 1986.
    • Lutomski, J. "Alkaloidy Pasiflora incarnata L." Dissertation, Institut for Medicinal Plant Research, Pozan, 1960
    • Bruneton, J. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Intercept, Ltd., Hampshire, England. 1995.
    • Flynn, R., and Roest, M. Your guide to standardized herbal products. One World Press. 1995.
    • Wolfman, C., et al. "Possible anxiolytic effects of chrysin, a central benzodiazepine receptor ligand isolated from Passiflora coerulea." Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 1994;47(1):1-4.
    • Zanoli, P., et al. "Behavioral characterisation of the flavonoids apigenin and chrysin." Fitoterapia. 2000; 71 Suppl 1: S117-23.
    • Mowrey, Daniel. The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. Keats Publishing, Inc New Canaan CT. 1986.
    • Lutomski, J. "Alkaloidy Pasiflora incarnata L." Dissertation, Institut for Medicinal Plant Research, Pozan, 1960.
    • Lueng. A., Foster, S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients. Wiley & Sons, NY, NY. 1996.
    • Yasukawa, K., et al. "Inhibitory effect of edible plant extracts on 12-o-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced ear oedema in mice." Phytother. Res. 1993;7(2):185-189.
    • Lutomski, J., et al. "Pharmacochemical investigation of the raw materials from Passiflora genus. 2. The pharmacochemical estimation of juices from the fruits of Passiflora edulis and Passiflora edulis forma flavicarpa." Planta Med. 1975;27: 112-121.
    • De a Ribeiro, R., et al. "Acute diuretic effects in conscious rats produced by some medicinal plants used in the state of Sao Paulo, Brasil." J. Ethnopharmacol. 1988;24(1):19-29.
    • Dhawan, K., et al. "Aphrodisiac activity of methanol extract of leaves of Passiflora incarnata Linn. in mice." Phytother. Res. 2003; 17(4): 401-3.
    • Dhawan, K., et al. "Antitussive activity of the methanol extract of Passiflora incarnata leaves." Fitoterapia. 2002; 73(5): 397-9.
    • HerbClip: Passionflower., "An Herbalist's View of Passionflower" American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas April 10, 1996.

    The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005 All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.


    1. "Passion flower is known throughout the world for its natural sedative properties. It is consistently used with good results for nervous system related disorders such as insomnia, nervousness, hysteria, neurasthenia*, depression and headaches of nervous origin. It promotes sleepiness without disorientation and soothes general pain. Passion flower is used to safely relax hyperactive children. Passion flower has disinfectant and diuretic properties. It is also a vermifuge.
    *Neurasthenia is a psychosomatic disorder characterized by easy fatiguability, lack of motivation and feelings of inadequacy."

    2. "Passion flower has a calming effect. It is great for hypertensive children. It is a mild sedative which soothes the nerves, helps with hemorrhoids, headaches, menopause and is an antispasmodic. It regulates mood swings and high blood pressure. It has been used for seizures, hysteria, colic, diarrhea and has an antibiotic activity. Passion flower balances excess heart yang and fortifies heart yin."

    3. "ACTIONS: Promotes calm, Encourages healthy sleep patterns, Regulates mood swings. TRADITIONAL USE: Passion Flower is known world wide as a natural sedative. It has been used effectively for all types of nervous excitation, hysteria, neurasthenia as well as depression. Indicated for all types of insomnia, as it promotes sleepiness without disorientation. Honored by Brazilian mothers for its effectiveness to calm hyperactive children and believed helpful in controlling convulsions. MERIDIAN INDICATIONS: Calms excessive Heart Yang, Fortifies Heart Yin, Calms Shen. EVA POINTS: Heart, Circulation"

    6. "Actions: sedative, anodyne, hypnotic, antispasmodic. CAUTION: Avoid high doses in pregnancy."

    8. "Brazilan uses and Folklore: Maracuja tea is a natural sedative. Dr. Alberto Seabra, a well known homeopathic physician, states "Today it [Maracuja] is known world wide and used by itself or combined in different formulas by many laboratories and under various names. It provokes natural sleepiness, without causing nervous depression, and because of this it is indicated for all types of insomnia. The ill person, under its action, mantains complete lucidity, and the ability to think, speak and act and feels better right up to failing asleep. Continuing use, where necessary, has no counter indications because it is not toxic or addictive. It should be recommended for all types of nervous excitation, hysteria, neurastenia and in cases of obsessive depression."* A cup of Maracuja tea or 2 glasses of juice will naturally calm down the most hyperactive child, and for this reason it is highly valued by Brazilian mothers. Maracuja is also good for treating chronic alcoholism, infantile convulsions, delirium tremens and nervous headaches. A. Balbach also prescribes Maracuja for diarrhea, intestinal worms and respiratory problem* Uses: Helpful for nervousness and insomnia, useful in controlling convulsions, irritative and neuralgic pains, nervous headaches, spasms. Improves circulation and nutrition to nerve centers.
    * Prof. Alfons Balbach, -A Flora Nacional na Medicina Domestica Vol. II p. 712. (Edicoes "A Edificacao do Lar ", Sao Paulo)"

    10. "Passiflora edulis Sims. Passifloraceae. "Maracuya, "Purple granadilla". Cultivated. Fruits edible. Brazilians on Rio Tapajos drink the pure fruit juice for the heart (BDS), using the leaf tea as a sedative."

    11."Maracuja, also call Passion Flower, is known throughout the world for its natural sedative properties. Maracuja is especially helpful in cases of PMS. It is traditionally used for nervous crises, hysteria, depression, and headaches of nervous origin - symptoms that often occur prior to onset of the menstrual period in susceptible women."

    14."Passion flower, like valerian root, has a long, colorful history of use as a sedative. Passion flower usually takes the back seat to valerian, but in a recent survey of popular herbal sedatives in Great Britain, passion flower narrowly outscored valerian root for top honors. Passion flower is used primarily as a sedative or nervine to combat excess nervousness and anxiety, to tranquilize, and to induce sleep; as an anodyne, anti-spasmodic and anti-convulsant to treat dysmenorrhea and muscle cramps.
    Primarily, passion flower is used world wide as a mild sedative or nervine that reduces anxiety, nervous tension, high blood pressure, and encourages sleep. It has also been employed as an antispasmodic (or spasmolytic) in the treatment of muscle cramps, convulsions, premenstrual tension, and even epilepsy. Passion flower preparations have been observed to overcome nervous symptoms and cramps that inhibit sleep, and to produce a restful and deep sleep free from frequent awakenings and disturbances. The antispasmodic action is also successfully used in the treatment of bronchial asthma.
    Passion flower is well known for its analgesic or anodyne action. Topically it has been used in Europe and America on burns and in compresses and has a marked effect against inflammations, especially hemorrhoids. It is used in South America as a diuretic and for hemorrhoidal inflammations. In Brazil it is used as an antispasmodic and sedative. The Brazilians even have a favorite passion flower drink, called maracuja grande, that frequently used to treat asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis and other tough coughs. North American applications include use a an analgesic and anticonvulsant, with some success noticed in cases of tetanus. Italian physicians have placed great emphasis on passion flower in the treatment of asthma, and in Poland is used in a proprietary drug for treating neurasthenia, hysteria and abnormal sexual excitability. Throughout Europe, passion flower is used to treat nervous conditions and pain that accompany female complaints ranging from dysmenorrhea to PMS disturbances of menopause.
    Other uses of passion flower, several of which have receive some support in the experimental literature, include the treatment of nervous, high-strung, and easily excited children, cardiovascular neuroses, coronary sickness, circulation weakness, and concentration problems in school children.
    The analgesic, sedative, sleep-inducing and spasmolytic effects of passion flower are closely related and seldom occur in isolation. Early investigators sometimes noticed that the herb worked especially well in those cases where sleeplessness could be traced to inflammation of the brain-it appeared to act as an analgesic and anticonvulsant. Neuralgia is commonly treated with passion flower. The analgesic or anodyne action of passion flower is regularly cited in noted codexes around the world."

    Passion Flower Family
    This family has twelve genera and some 600 species of warm and tropical regions, especially South America. They are herbaceous or woody vines provided with tendrils. Several species, especially of the genus Passiflora, are cultivated for their edible fruits. They are believed to be related to the Caricaceae, the Papaya Family. Alkaloids, phenols, tannins and cyanogenic compounds are known in the family. Glycosyl favonoids have been found in several species (Ulubelen, 1983). Therapeutic use of certain members has been reviewed (Lutomski, 1981). Antibiotic activity (Birner, 1973) is due, probably, to the presence of an acetylenic compound.
    Passiflora Linnaeus
    The 12 genera and more than 500 species of herbaceous and woody plants, usually climbers, are distributed in warm and tropical regions mainly in the Americas but with a few in Asia, Australia and Madagascar.The chemistry described for the family refers primarily to this genus.
    Bimer, J. and J. M. Nicolls, Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 3 (1973) 105.
    Lutomski, J., E. Sergie et al., Pharm. Unserer Zeit 10 (1981) 45 (C. A. 94:162260c)
    Ulubelen, A. and T. J. Mabry, J. Nat. Prod. 46 (1983) 597."

    * The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.

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    Last updated 12-17-2012