270: Passion Vine

One of my favorite summertime herbals to collect is the Passion Vine, Passiflora incarnata, also known as maypop, purple passionflower, true passionflower, wild apricot, and wild passion vine. Many people don’t know that this vine, native to much of the American South, is the source for Passionfruit, a tasty treat if you can get to them before the animals do. This fruit is starting to come out now here in the Ozarks, but won’t be ripe until late Fall or early Winter. It seems the first frost does a lot to ripen the fruit. Many people I’ve encountered who know about the plant will say it’s not edible on account of picking them far too early in the season.

The leaves and flowers of the vine have traditionally been used in sedative formulas, and the active chemical compound passiflorine acts as a mild depressant. If you pick up an herbal sleep aid formula from the store it will probably have Passion Vine in it.

The Modern Herbal has this to say about the Passion Flower:

“The drug is known to be a depressant to the motor side of the spinal cord, slightly reducing arterial pressure, though affecting circulation but little, while increasing the rate of respiration. It is official in homoeopathic medicine and used with bromides, it is said to be of great service in epilepsy. Its narcotic properties cause it to be used in diarrhoea and dysentery, neuralgia, sleeplessness and dysmenorrhoea.”

Here’s a recipe for the sedative tincture I make:

Passion Vine (leaves and flowers, dried and chopped)
Lemon Balm (leaves)
Self Heal, Prunella vulgaris (leaves and flowers)

I make this in a quart mason jar, the plant matter should all be in equal parts and fill about half of the jar. Fill with vodka or whiskey. Macerate the mixture once a day for one month. Strain and bottle. Dosage is 60-90 drops or about half of a shot.


While Passion Vine is generally considered safe, please be advised that as it is a sedative it may interact with other prescribed CNS depressants. Passion Vine may also cause dizziness or drowsiness, so be aware of that. Herbal sedatives such as passion flower are also contraindicated in patients with depression and insomnia marked by increasing restlessness during the early hours of the morning.

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