Damiana Turnera diffusa

Damiana, Damiane, Oreganillo, The Bourrique, Mexican Holly, Damiana de Guerrero

Traditional Use

Damiana has an ancient, erotic reputation, particularly amongst Mexican Indians – Damiana leaves were not only prescribed as an aphrodisiac, but also as a tonic for overall health. There are records of it being used by the Mayans as an aphrodisiac as well as to treat “giddiness and loss of balance”. It was also used by the Aztecs as a tonic that was believed to improve general health and wellbeing.
In European traditional medicine Chickweed was used for a wide spectrum of conditions including, bronchitis, asthma and indigestion. This pretty flowering plant was (and still is) used as a tasty, nutritious salad leaf, a pot herb and in soups and stews. High in vitamin C, sailors used Chickweed vinegar to prevent scurvy when fresh citrus was unavailable.

Origin

Mexico, Central America, West Indies, and South America

Parts used

Leaves

Constituents

The main constituents of damiana include: Albuminoids, alpha-copaene, alpha-pinene, arbutin, barterin, beta-pinene, beta-sitosterol, calamenene, caoutchouc, chlorophyll, 1,8-cineole, cymene, cymol, damianin, essential oil, gamma-cadinene, gonzalitosin-i, hexacosanol-1, luteolin, quinovopyranosides, tannins, tetraphyllin b, thymol, triacontane, and trimethoxyflavones.

Precautions

There are no known contraindications or drug interactions.

Benefits

Male Sexual Health
Especially indicated for alleviating problems of achieving and maintaining erections, Damiana also works to relieve stress and anxiety related to fears of inadequate sexual performance. Studies have shown that consuming the plant works to slow down the digestive tract and instead rushes oxygen to genital areas. This helps men to achieve erection much more easily and maintain it for longer periods of time. Yet another study claims that use of Damiana leads to greater sensitivity in the erogenous zones, especially the genitals, which in turn may help men to experience greater sexual pleasure.
Antidepressant
One of the active constituents of this herb is thymol, and it is this compound that is responsible for Damiana’s life enhancing and stimulating effect on the mind and body. Many herbalists prescribe Damiana for mild to moderate depression, anxiety and nervous exhaustion. Its stimulating and restorative properties make it a valuable herb for anxiety and depression occurring together – as can often happen as a result of long term stress.
Female Sexual Health
Damiana had long been thought of as an exclusively male aphrodisiac, until family and integrated medical practitioner Cynthia Watson published her book, “Love Potions, a Guide to Aphrodisiacs and Sexual Pleasures”. In it, she presented evidence indicating that androgens such as testosterone might be effective for stimulating so-called “frigid” women, a characteristic some researchers suspect may be caused by an androgen deficiency. Watson also said she saw a renewed interest in sex among women who used Damiana. In addition she wrote, “It is also reported to induce erotic dreams when drunk at bedtime. I can also tell you that Damiana makes my dreams at least a little unusual, with qualities worthy of an abstract Walt Disney production”.
Digestive Health
This versatile herb will promote digestive health by facilitating the breakdown of fats and sugars in the digestive system. This mechanism is beneficial as it increases the body’s nutrient absorption rate, thus ensuring the body receives the most nutrients found in the food we eat.
Damiana also encourages the cleansing of the gastrointestinal tract, forcing the body to eliminate harmful chemicals and toxins that would normally hinder the digestion process. This natural herb can also be used to treat dyspepsia or impaired digestion as it actively slows down the digestive process.

History-Folklore

It is believed that Damiana was first used by the indigenous Guaycura in the Baja region of Mexico. Originally taken during religious ceremonies, it was later banned due to its “passion inspiring properties” getting out of hand! When the Guaycura started trading with the Aztecs, this herb found its way across the rest of the Americas. Throughout Central and South America there are ethnobotanical reports of Damiana’s therapeutic qualities. 

In the 1870’s Damiana started to spread as a commercial product, mainly as an aphrodisiac, especially for the old and enfeebled. In 1888 it made its first appearance in the American “National Formulary”, eventually being dropped in 1916. Knowledge about Damiana was slowly fading away until it was rediscovered in the 1960’s by ethnobotanists and hippies looking for natural alternatives to pharmaceutical medicine. 

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