Updated: Oct 13, 2018
This article explores, briefly, using passionflower as a plant ally during opiate withdrawal.
For some reason, this has been a hard blog post to write. I think that part of it has to do with me wanting to understand the neuroscience behind why passionflower works in general and part of it is because I have a special relationship with passionflower. When I got off of Suboxone, a friend recommended passionflower. Another friend had given me a grab bag of herbs a few months prior, one of them being passionflower. I set the herbs aside and wasn’t sure how I would use them. How serendipitous it was to have a big ass bag of passionflower in my cupboard when I was going through sub withdrawal! I started making tea while I was withdrawing. I am not sure that I would have realized how much it helped if my withdrawal support person hadn’t heard me mention it a million times during our phone conversations. She repeated back to me that I had a connection with passionflower. Though I was in too much pain at the time to realize the relationship, her words stuck with me. Passionflower and I have an affinity. I continued to explore passionflower after the acute withdrawals were gone. I made a passionflower tincture and started using it whenever I felt my nervous system was having a party. I still love and use passionflower to calm my nerves when needed.
Passionflower is a brilliant plant. It is native to the semi-tropical and tropical Southern United States, Central, and South America. Indigenous peoples used passionflower for food, drink, and medicine. Though there are many uses for passionflower, like the ones I found on Chestnut Herbs, I am going to focus on passionflower and its use regarding opiate withdrawal.
Why Passionflower Works
Passionflower is an ally during withdrawal. It is very subtle but can help with anxiety. Passionflower acts similar to a benzodiazepine, attaching to some benzo receptors in the brain. The most studied active ingredient in passionflower is chrysin; it acts as a GABA agonist. GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it blocks nerve impulses, having a calming effect. I am just starting to understand the role in GABA in relation to opiate withdrawal. For now, it suffices for me to know that passionflower does help withdrawal. In one double-blind study, opiate addicts were given either clonidine alone or clonidine with passionflower. Those given the clonidine and passionflower showed a “significant superiority” in coping with the mental symptoms of the withdrawal. Though this was a small study, it is still promising.
Buprenorphine is a powerful drug when it is leaving your body; it leaves a lot of wreckage behind. Because buprenorphine has such powerful energy, and during withdrawal many things are happening energetically and physiologically, using plant medicine can be helpful, but is not a panacea. I think a medically induced coma might be the only panacea, and this is not a real option, though one can always hope.
Ways to take Passionflower
The main ways to take passionflower are in tea, capsules, or tincture.
For a medicinal tea, brew 1/2 ounce of the herb to 32 ounces of water. Cover and steep for 20 minutes, add sweetener and enjoy.
For tincture, take 3-4 dropper fulls up to 3x a day
For capsules, take 2 800mg capsules 2-3x daily
Where to buy Passionflower Online
This is for educational purposes only. None of these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.