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Herbs That I Don’t Travel Without, Part 2: My Personal Experience with Passionflower

If you read part 1 of this series about echinacea, you will know that echinacea plays an important role in my travel first aid kit. Another herb I don’t travel without is passionflower.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

A very specific “passionflower moment” is when one really needs to sleep, but the mind just won’t shut down. I had been a practicing herbalist for many years before I realized just how powerful passionflower could be for this type of situation.  

Let me set the scene. It was the night before my wedding. I had stayed up a bit too late finishing something that needed to be done, and when I got into bed, instead of dropping into an exhausted sleep like I should have, my mind just wouldn’t stop moving. My body was dead tired, but my mind was acting like I had just had a cup of coffee. The expression “wired and tired” became very real, and I realized that I needed help. Then passionflower suddenly popped into my mind.


At this time in my life, I had a full herbal apothecary in my home which I used for my clinical practice, but I had never personally taken the passionflower tincture that I stocked. I got up from my bed, walked down to the basement, and took the bottle off the shelf. I brought it up to my kitchen, measured out a full teaspoon, poured it into a cup with a little water, and drank it. Realizing this was a large dose, I prayed I hadn’t taken too much. I got back into bed, and that is when I literally felt my thoughts draining away. It was a very physical sensation of my mental activity draining from the top of my head, down into my body, and then just away. And then I was asleep.

Now passionflower is my go-to herb for sleep, and one that I don’t leave home without. I pack passionflower in my bag when I am traveling because I find that being in a new place to sleep can be overstimulating, especially when I am traveling with family and our sleeping quarters are close. There is nothing worse to me than when I want to get a good night’s rest, but instead find myself lying in bed with a mind that just won’t turn off.

Form: Passionflower is an herb that I prefer to take as a liquid extract, or tincture. In the story I just told, I used a high-quality extract made by a well-respected herb company. After that, I began to make my own fresh plant tincture from passionflower that I grow in my own garden.

Quality: There is a wide range in the quality of passionflower available on the market. If you see dried passionflower that looks yellowish or light brown, it has likely lost much of its medicinal activity. This happens easily to passionflower when it is exposed to light or heat, or just passage of time, which is why I like to use passionflower liquid extracts made from fresh plant material, and possibly why I find passionflower liquid extracts to be more effective than teas.

Part & Plant Species: The species of passionflower that is considered the official herbal medicine is Passiflora incarnata. The entire above ground plant is used medicinally.

Dose: I consider the dose I took, 1 tsp (5ml) to be a high dose, and one that I would not surpass in a single serving. When I use passionflower with my clients, I like to start at a ½ tsp (2.5ml) dose, and then increase if necessary. I use extracts that tend to be concentrated at a 1:2 ratio, made from fresh plant material. Doses can be titrated up or down depending on the strength of the extract being used.

What to pack: I pack a 1oz bottle of passionflower for my trips which tend to be under a week-long. If you are traveling by air, you can either pack it into a leak-proof plastic bag with your checked luggage, or pack it in a clear zip-lock bag with your carry-on. If you are traveling by car, especially during the summer, please note that all tinctures are sensitive to heat. Be sure not to leave your passionflower tincture, or any other tincture, in a hot car.


Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Safety considerations exist with certain health conditions, pregnancy and lactation, as well as any medications being taken. If you have any questions about safety or herb-drug interactions, I recommend you work with your primary care practitioner and/or an herbalist to make sure this is an appropriate herb for you.


About me

My name is Jillian Bar-av and I am a Registered Herbalist and Licensed Nutritionist. I specialize in supporting people who have complex urinary tract conditions, such as Interstitial Cystitis, with a comprehensive holistic approach that helps people to increase their quality of life. I’ve seen how healing herbs can be for the urinary system and how much they can help people to feel well again. Working with herbs is not only deeply healing, but part of my philosophy that it takes healthy people to create a healthy planet, and I want to make a difference for both.

If you are interested in learning about my clinical practice, or scheduling an appointment, you can do that here:

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