The passion flower is a relative of the more commonly known passion fruit, although they are used for vastly different purposes. Passion fruit is used as food, and the passion flower is used as an herbal supplement. Specifically, the dried aerial pieces of the flower are smoked as an aid to help people stop smoking cigarettes. The nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes are addictive and generally are regarded as more dangerous than smoking herbs. Of course, there are still risks to smoking anything, including passion flower.
What Is Passion Flower?
Passion flower is a flower that is often grouped as a lot of different names, including wild passion flower, purple passion flower, Jamaican honeysuckle, passion vine and flor de passion, just to name a few. The aerial parts of the passion flower are dried, and the resulting herb has been used for decades for a variety of uses, including cessation of smoking, sedation, to combat insomnia, as an antibacterial and for the symptoms associated with drug and alcohol withdrawal. One of the most common practices is to smoke it as a substitute for nicotine cigarettes in an effort to quit the tobacco habit. As with all herbs, the Food and Drug Administration has no official daily dosage advice, so you should only use passion flower with the advice and recommendations of a doctor.
Passion flower is generally thought to be a safe herb and side effects (beyond those caused by inhalation of smoke) are not common. However, some people who choose to smoke passion flower still put themselves at risk for adverse reactions. These include rapid heart rate, nausea and vomiting. Reaction time can be slowed, and drowsiness may occur, meaning you should not drive or operate heavy equipment while smoking passion flower.
Cyanide poisoning has been associated with passion flower in the past, although not in humans. Several adverse effects have been reported with combination herbs or drugs in which passion flower was present. Although there is no medical proof that only the passion flower caused these reactions (which included liver failure and death), you should proceed with caution when smoking any herbal combination. Also be advised that there are few labeling rules for herbal supplements, so something labeled as passion flower could have other additives that can cause reactions in people.
Although smoking passion flower is generally thought to be safer and a better alternative to smoking nicotine-laden cigarettes, that doesn't make it safe. Smoking anything introduces carbon monoxide into your lungs, which is always dangerous. Carbon monoxide goes straight into your bloodstream and reduces the ability of the blood to carry oxygen to the rest of your body. This can cause reduced lung capacity, shortness of breath and heart problems, including high blood pressure, angina and even heart attack. Cough, blood clots and emphysema are also possible long-term problems associated with carbon monoxide.