Damiana is a fairly well known herb that goes by many other names. Turnera diffusa, turnera aphrodisia, Mexican damiana, Mexican holly, and damina are all known aliases for this small shrub, that grows naturally in the U.S. in S.W. Texas. Damiana is also found throughout parts of Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Damiana belongs to the family of plants called “Passifloraceae” which includes over 500 tropical species of trees, shrubs and “climbing plants”.
Damiana has been described as a small shrub, with little yellow flowers that bloom throughout the summer, before producing small fruits that many people say have a delicious “fig-like” taste.
The dried and fresh leaves of the damiana plant are used herbally/medically, for a long list of treatments. It is said, that damiana is a natural aphrodisiac, for both men and women, making it a great herb for lovers.
The effects of using Damiana are said to be relaxing to the body/mind, yet stimulating to the libido. A compound in Damiana called “damianin” is said to have very relaxing effect on the CNS (central nervous system).
Damiana is said to have been introduced to the United States in 1874, but has been known throughout history in other regions, as a general health tonic, and used for many hundreds of years. Evidence showed that the Ancient Mayas and Aztecs used Damiana regularly as an herbal remedy and for good overall health.
Through ancient times, and still today, people have smoked Damiana leaf as a way to relax. The effect smoked Damiana has on the human brain is said to be similar to cannabis/marijuana in some people, causing it to be banned in some areas. Louisiana banned Damiana back in August of 2005, making any part of this plant illegal to possess for consumption by humans. The ban was put in effect under “Louisiana State Act 159″ which also made 39 other plants illegal, except for decorative and landscaping purposes.
Damiana seems to have many uses in the herbal medicine cabinet. The dried and fresh leaves have been used as an aphrodisiac, relaxant, anti-depressant, mood enhancer, and to stimulate blood flow to the sexual organs. Also said to have hormonal balancing effects, Damiana is said to help relieve some of the symptoms caused by hormonal imbalances associated with menopause. Other uses for Damiana herb include; treating mood disorders, CNS disorders, boost energy, reduce exhaustion, treat constipation, anti-anxiety, antiseptic, anti-spasmotic, cough suppressant, laxative, digestive aid, expectorant, diuretic, and as an astringent. As you can see, there are many uses for the Damiana herb, making it a great addition to your herb garden, or decorative landscape.
The common methods of use for Damiana herb are infusion of the dried leaves, fluid extract of the leaf, crushed leaves in capsule form, herbal teas, and smoking the dried leaves.
While Damiana is known to be a pretty safe herb when used in regular doses, it’s long-term side effects have not been studied thoroughly.
Damiana should be avoided by pregnant women, and not used by children or people with iron deficiencies. Also, Damiana is known to have a hypoglycaemic effect, making it necessary to use extreme caution by those who have hypoglycaemia, diabetes or other sugar related conditions.