Damiana is a small shrub with small, fragrant flowers that blossoms in early to late summer. The strong spice-like odour, a little like chamomile, is due to the plant's essential oils. Damiana is widely sold in the UK as a food supplement with much of its popularity being due to its traditional use in enhancing low libido in both men and women.
The chopped leaf.
The leaves are traditionally made into a delicious tasting tea for its relaxing effects. The fruits of damiana taste similar to figs.
Records from Spanish missionaries suggest that Mexican Indians considered that Damiana tea mixed with sugar was an aphrodisiac food.
Damiana extract is an ingredient in a traditional Mexican liqueur. It is used in the "original" margarita from the Los Cabos region of Mexico called a "damiana margarita". It is sometimes used in lieu of Triple Sec when making margaritas. The tincture can be also be added as a flavouring to gin or vodka.
Use 1 teaspoon of dried herb (2 g) to one cup of boiling water to make a tasty tea. Infuse for 10-15 minutes. Sweeten with honey to taste.
Alternatively add half a teaspoon (3 ml) of tincture to a cup of warm water for a quick alternative to tea. Or mix with soda water and lemon as a refreshing drink.
Combine 7 parts of damiana with 2 parts of rose petals and 1 part of ginger root powder by weight. Mix well and use as a herbal tea allowing 1 to 2 teaspoons per person. Infuse in hot water for 10 minutes and drink several times a day for several days prior to the honeymoon.
Actions: Possibly anxiolytic, antispasmodic, adaptogen, thymoleptic,expectorant, astringent, digestive, laxative, bitter tonic, aphrodisiac, hypoglycaemic, sedative, tonic, diuretic. Link to Glossary
Little modern research has been carried out on damiana in humans so its use as a medicine has not been analysed. There are no current (2015) Commission E or European Community herbal monographs
In clinic: Medical herbalists use damiana to treat:
Sexual health: Used as an aphrodisiac, for prevention and treatment of sexual problems; anxiety and depression associated with sexual inadequacy; in both men and women; for impotence, erectile dysfunction (ED), frigidity, inorgasmia and low libido.
Stress: for strength and stimulation during periods of overwork; boosting and maintaining mental and physical stamina or capacity; headaches.
Bedwetting and incontinence: May improve muscular control. Antiseptic diuretic and soothes irritation.
Digestion: Used for nervous stomach; reduces tension and spasm so used in a range of digestive conditions where anxiety is an aggravating factor. Also stimulates the liver and lowers blood sugar levels.
Mental health: Used by herbalists to help with debility and headaches; obsessive compulsive disorder; over worry and agitation; neurosis and paranoia.
If you are interested in the medicinal use of this herb please consult a herbalist. Herbs are generally used at medicinal strength, in blends, prescribed for each unique patient's condition.
Infusion: 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb (2 to 4 g) to a cup of cold water. Pour boiling water over the herb and leave to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Flavour with lemon, ginger or honey if desired. Drink 3 times a day unless otherwise told by a medical herbalist.
Tincture: Take 3 ml (1:3 in 60% tincture), 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.
Fluid extract: 1:1 Take 2 to 4 ml, 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.
Dried Herb: Maximum of 12 g per day may be taken as a powder or capsules.
In Central and South America damiana leaves are made into an incense by traditional native peoples.
Do not take if you are allergic to damiana or other composites in this plant's family (Turneraceae).
There is a possibility that taking damiana at the same time as food may inhibit iron absorption. If you are low in iron do not take damiana at the same time as food.
Surgery: Since damiana seems to affect blood glucose levels, there is a concern that it might interfere with blood glucose control during and after surgery. Stop using damiana at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Diabetes: Damiana might affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use damiana.
None known. However, diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar and damiana might also decrease blood sugar. Theoretically, taking damiana along with a diabetes medication might cause your blood sugar to go too low and the dose of your diabetes medication may need to be changed.
Damiana is Pregnancy Category B2 so not known to cause problems in pregnancy with limited research.
Damiana has been used to stimulate menstrual flow and as an aid in childbirth in traditional Mexican medicine.
Very little is known about the use of damiana during breast-feeding so if you want to be on the safe side, avoid use.
Not recommended in children under 12
Smoking: Inhaling smoke into your lungs is bad for your health. Although damiana does not contain nicotine and has been smoked by some people to relieve the anxiety associated with giving up smoking, we do not recommend smoking dried damiana leaf herb.
It has in the past been mixed with cannabinoids in blends such as Black Mamba to create legal highs. Black Mamba is illegal in the UK and all smoking is harmful to your health.
Properties: Damiana contains damianin; tetraphyllin B; gonzalitosin I; arbutin; tricosan-2-one; p-cymene; β-sitosterol; 1,8-cineole; α-pinene; β-carotene; β-pinene; eucalyptol; tannins and thymol.
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