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Damiana Herb Plant

Tunera diffusa DamianaDamiana Herb Plant – Turnera diffusa, Mexican Damiana

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.

Angelica archangelica

Angelica archangelicaAngelica archangelica, is a biennial herb plant that grows up to 8 feet tall in Zones 4-9.

With broad leaves (up to 2 feet long/wide) and flowers up to 10 inches round, this is one spacious herb plant – that needs at least 2 feet of space between it, and it’s closest garden neighbor.

Description of Angelica archangelica:

The leaves of the angelica plant are very broad, and grow to about 2 feet in length, with jagged, tooth-like edges.

The flowers of the angelica plant bloom from June, through August of their second or third year. They are round umbels, that grow to about 10 inches in diameter, with many small-green flowers that are often said to faintly smell like honey.

Growing Angelica archangelica can be difficult, yet very rewarding to those with patience. First, to grow angelica, you must start with fresh seeds and plant them in the fall. Sowing the seeds of angelica directly into the soil it is to be grown in, is the best. Angelica archangelica is a picky herb, that does not like to be transplanted once it has set it’s roots. Unlike many other herbs and plants – the seeds from Angelica need light to germinate. For this reason – planting the seeds outdoors, directly in their new home, is best.

Angelica prefers to grow in partial shade to shade, but will grow in direct sunlight, if special care is taken with adding the proper mulch – to cool the roots, and the ground around them.

The soil should be kept moderately moist, yet well-drained and slightly acidic.

Angelica dies back after dropping it’s seeds. For this reason, many gardeners who grow angelica will intentionally pinch the flowers off before seed production, in order to prolong the life of their angelica plant.

Angelica Garden Pests/Diseases:

Aphids, earwigs, leaf-miners, and spider mites, can all be troublesome pests to watch out for, when growing angelica.

As far as disease goes, crown-rot (a fungal disease caused by Sclerotium rolfsii) is the main concern when growing angelica archangelica. If your plants are turning yellow and dying back, and you can’t figure out why, check the soil at the base of the plant for orange, mushroom-looking balls protruding up from the ground, and treat accordingly.

 Harvesting angelica archangelica:

To harvest angelica leaves and stems, start in late-spring to early-summer, but before the flowers have bloomed. The leaves and stems of angelica should be harvested after the morning dew, but before the heat of the afternoon kicks in. This makes late-morning the perfect time of day to harvest angelica in most areas.

Collect angelica seeds in late-summer, by enclosing the seed heads before they are fully ripe.

Harvest angelica roots by digging them up in early fall, after their first year of growth.

 Drying Angelica Herb

Hang the leaves and (enclosed) seeds heads to air-dry for up to a week, depending on humidity and weather in your area.

To dry the angelica roots, simply cut them into 2inch pieces and dry them in the food dehydrator.

 Uses for Angelica Archangelica:

Angelica leaves and roots contain essential oils that give it many uses, including; gas relief, promotion of menstruation, invigorating, strengthening, easing symptoms of colds, colic, fevers, heartburn, cramps, ulcers, and other stomach troubles. Angelica is also said to spark the appetite, ease pain associated with rheumatism, strengthen the heart, liver, lungs, and even the spleen.

Angelica may also be used in cooking, making it a multi-use herb that is good for your health, as well as sweetening up tasty dishes and desserts.

Angelica may be used in many forms including; teas, tinctures, extracts or dried herb.

Storing Angelica for later use:

Angelica may be stored in a cool, dark, air-tight container for later use.

*** Warning ***

The prolonged use of angelica archangelica extracts, tea’s or tinctures – may cause skin irritations, rash, and photo-sensitivity in some people. For this reason, internal use of angelica is best kept to occasional use, unless directed differently by a herbal medicine specialist.

Also known as: Garden Angelica, Archangelica Officinalis, and The Root of the Holy Spirit