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Damiana - Turnera diffusaDamiana - Turnera diffusa

Damiana

Turnera diffusa

Parts used medicinally: Leaves and stems.

What is Damiana?

Damiana is a Mexican plant that produces a leaf, most commonly used as a stimulating tea throughout the peninsula.

Traditionally in Mexico the Damiana leaf is drunk by men, women and children alike and most commonly as a warming tea to stimulate delayed menstruation and colic, where it can provide instant relief.

In Germany and the UK it has been used as a male sexual tonic to enhance sexual function if the problems are of a purely physical nature. It is also of great benefit in nervous problems such as anxiety and depression where it has a combined tonic and nutritional effect on nervous tissue and is a highly restorative adaptogen.

Most of the Damiana leaf on the market today comes from Mexican, and Latin American cultivation projects.

Botany

Damiana is a small shrub, growing to a height of about 1-2m. There are two species used interchangeably in herbal medicine — Turnera diffusa, and Turnera aphrodisiaca. The leaves are harvested during the season where it produces beautiful fragrant yellow flowers.

Damiana flower, dried and powder

Medicinal Value

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia cites indications for damiana's use for "anxiety Neurosis, with a predominant sexual factor, depression, nervous dyspepsia, atonic constipation, and coital inadequacy".

In clinical practice it is used as a potent anxiolytic and highly restorative adaptogen for long term stress, exhaustion and chronic disease. An adaptogen is a plant that increases the body's resilience towards stress (environmental, physical, emotional or mental). Despite being coined as a stimulant, the plant does not carry the same eventual nervousness as is the case with lots of tea or coffee.

It is also used for conditions involving pain due to the eugenol content that has been shown to regulate GABAA receptors. These receptors play a role in the modulation of various activities in the central nervous system including pain sensations.

Finally it is perhaps most famously and anciently thought of as a male aphrodisiac. Today Damiana is still used in this way in England and Germany. The action is due to its ability to carry oxygen and increase circulation to the genital area. This effect occurs in both men and women but the alkaloids present in the plant also have a testosterone like effect which is why it is considered 'the male herb'.

Ways to Use Damiana at Home?

  • Infuse 1-2 tsp of the dried herb in cold water before pouring boiling water over the herb and infuse for 10 minutes. The herb has a pleasant taste but can be enhanced with lemon, ginger or honey.
  • Add up to 5-10g of the powder to smoothies or food daily.

Cautions

Hypoglycemic medications (agonistic interaction)
Pregnancy & breastfeeding

Did You Know?

Damiana has been used as a flavouring agent in liqueurs for hundreds of years and is thought to be the original flavour for the margarita.

If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.

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