Scientific and Common Names
Damiana is from the Turneraceae family. Damiana is in the genus Turnera and has two species that are very similar and many times are interchangeable: the species diffusa and aphrodisiaca. For this report, Damiana will refer to Turnera diffusa specifically. Although Damiana is it's most common name, it also goes by Mexican damiana, Mexican holly, Pastorcita, Hierba de la pastora, Hierba del venao, Damiane, and Misibcoc. Along with these names, Damiana also has a pharmaceutical name of Folium Turnerae.
Damiana was used by the Mayans as an aphrodisiac as the species of Turnera aphrodisiaca was named after. The Mexicans also widely used Damiana as a tonic as it would make people happy, increase vitality and allow them to endure everything. They used the herb to flavor teas and drinks. In fact, they were the first to use Damiana in the 'original' margarita. Damiana can also be smoked and gives a light 'high' feeling.
This tall shrub grows upward with bark that has a reddish hue. The stems have long, smooth, obovate, green leaves with serrated edges and a few hairs on its ribs. The flower has five petals and is a beautiful sunshine yellow. The plant flowers in early to late summer, with the flowers being very aromatic. After flowering, damiana grows a fruit that tastes very much like figs. Damiana reaches a height of six feet.
Damiana is found growing in hot and humid climates such as: Texas, southern California, Mexico, Central America, the northern Caribbean Islands and Namibia in USDA growing zones of 8, 9, 10 & 11.
Damiana enjoys locations that have full sun and dry, rocky soil. Damiana likes a weakly acidic soil to a weakly alkaline soil, between the pH of 6.6-8.5.
Flavor: bitter and pungent
Damiana is warm and bitter with a camphor-like taste. It is also dry, astringing, stimulating and restoring.
arbutin, volitile, essential oil 0.5-2% (delta-cadinene, cymol, cymene, alpha and delta-pinene, 1,8-cineol, alpha-copaene, calamene, calamenene and thymol), cynogenic glycoside, resins 14%, Gums, albuminoids, flavonoid, alkaloids, hydroquinone, bitter damianin, tannins 3.5%, and chlorophyll.
Herbal Medicinal Qualities
Tonic, stimulant, mild laxative, diuretic, anti-depressant, testosterogenic and aphrodisiac, nerve stimulant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, hypo-thyroid, hormone regulator, expectorant, anti-spasmodic.
Damiana has an affinity for helping with reproductive issues, in both women and men. It is best known as an aphrodisiac for both men and women, by increasing circulation to reproductive organs.
For women: Damiana increases progesterone to help boost libido and relieve frigidity. This will also help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. It can be given as a tonic for regulating PMS related symptoms such as painful and late periods, headaches, tender breasts, hypotension, depression, anxiety and spasmodic dysmenorrhea. Balancing hormones may also help with thyroid deficiency and increasing metabolism.
For men: Damiana's testosterogenic action helps with impotence and premature ejaculation. As a diuretic, it helps relieve prostate issues.
Urinary: Damiana helps to tonify the kidneys and strengthen the bladder. It is a diuretic which helps with relieving incontinence. It's antiseptic properties aid in treating urinary infections.
Digestion: As a digestive, Damiana is helpful for gastric dyspepsia and it's laxative effects help to relieve chronic constipation. It also helps to lower blood sugar.
Nerve restoration: A nerve restorative effects the mind, helping to lift the mind by relieving anxiety and depression, mental exhaustion and increasing vitality. It also gives a mild narcotic 'high' that usually lasts around an hour.
Respiratory: Damiana promotes expectoration which relieves phlegm and stops coughs. It's expectorant action also helps chronic bronchitis.
Damiana is used in Mexico to flavor teas and alcoholic beverages. The Damiana Margarita is said to be the 'original' margarita utilizing the herb damiana. Damiana has also been used as a narcotic, giving a mild 'high' by smoking the dried herb.
Parts of Plant Used, Preparation & Dosage
The leaf is the only part of the Damiana plant that is used. It is gathered from plant when it is flowering through the summer.
Damiana may be used as an infusion, a tincture, for smoking, or in pill form.
To infuse: 1 teaspoon in one cup of water. May given up to 3x/day
To tincture: Using fresh herb, use a 1:2 ratio in 45-60% alcohol.
Using dried herb, you need a 1:5 ratio in 45-60% alcohol.
To give tincture, 20-40 drops, 3x/day.
Do not take if pregnant or nursing. Do not give to children. May not be good for people with kidney or liver disease as it may be dangerous due to cyanide-like compounds. Damiana may also cause mild gastrointestinal distress. Do not take if you have irritable bowel syndrome. Since Damiana is a stimulant, do not use if you have heart issues or nervous hyper-functioning.
- Use damiana with skullcap and lemon balm for a calming, nervous restorative.
- Damiana may be used with hyssop, thyme and elecampane as a stimulating expectorant.
- Blackhaw or crampbark with damiana would be a great combo for dysmennorhea.
- Damiana, nettles, and parsley seed for prostate health support.
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Holmes, Peter. The Energetics of Western Herbs. Fourth edition. Snow Lotus Press, Inc. Cotati, California. 2007