What is damiana used for?


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What is Damiana?

Damiana is a Mexican shrub also found throughout the southern US and many parts of South America. It has small, yellow-brown aromatic leaves. The red-brown twigs often are found mixed in the crude drug along with the spherical fruits.

Scientific Name(s)

Turnera diffusa, T. aphrodisiaca, T. microphylla

Common Name(s)

Damiana also is known as herba de la pastora, Mexican damiana, old woman’s broom, and rosemary (not to be confused with the spice Rosmarinus officinalis)

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

The scientific literature on the plant dates back more than 100 years when reports described its aphrodisiac effects. Damiana history began with its early use by the Maya (under the name mizibcoc) in the treatment of giddiness and loss of balance. Its primary use in the last century has been as an aphrodisiac. Father Juan Maria de Salvatierra, a Spanish missionary, first reported that the Mexican Indians made a drink from the damiana leaves, added sugar and drank it for its love-enhancing properties. In the 1870s, it was imported into the US as a tincture and advertised as a powerful aphrodisiac, to improve the sexual ability of the enfeebled and the aged and to provide increased activity to all the pelvic secretions. Suffice to say that in this patent medicine era, it enjoyed some success.

Damiana was admitted into the first edition of the National Formulary (NF) in 1888 as an elixir and fluid extract. However, it never made it into the US Pharmacopeia and the elixir finally was dropped from the NF in 1916. The fluid extract and the crude drug (leaves) were listed in the NF until 1947. Although some commercial companies continued to sell it to the American market, damiana had almost disappeared until the 1960s “hippy” movement brought it back into popularity.


Today, damiana has found its way into a number of herbal OTC products, in particular those claiming to induce a legal herbal “high.”

In the Caribbean, damiana leaves are boiled in water and the vapors inhaled for the relief of headaches. Teas are said to aid in the control of bed wetting. No substantive data is available to support the aphrodisiac effects of damiana. Although it has been postulated that the plant may contain the central nervous system stimulant caffeine, the aphrodisiac effect has not been attributed to any specific components. The volatile oil in damiana might be sufficiently irritating to the urethral mucous membranes to account for its so-called aphrodisiac effects.

Despite containing a complex mixture of components, there is no evidence to support claims for a hallucinogenic effect.

What is the recommended dosage?

There are no recent clinical studies of damiana that provide a basis for dosage recommendations, though it has been studied in combination with other agents. Classical dosage of the leaf was 2 g.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Documented adverse effects include risk of cyanide toxicity (due to cyanogenetic glycosides components) in high doses. Avoid use.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Significant adverse effects have not been reported.


Research reveals little or no information regarding toxicology with the use of this product.

1. Damiana. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 . 2005. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 16, 2007.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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Damiana: Everything You Need To Know

In modern herbalism and phytotherapy, Damiana is still widely used as a sexual tonic and aphrodisiac. While it is often used in more complex aphrodisiac formulas that enhance the overall sexual performance, it is also often used along with St. Johns Wort and Skullcap that enhance the relaxation and anti-depressant effects. Damiana has been described as a mild mood lifter by itself, but that action can be further enhanced through combination with other antidepressant herbs.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a small shrub belonging to the Passifloraceae family of plants. It can be found growing native in the South-western parts of Texas in the US, as well the Caribbean, and parts of Central and South America. Damiana is a relatively small shrub that grows to about 1-2 meters in height, and produces small yellow flowers that bloom into small, sweet smelling fruit. The leaves are the pharmacologically active part of the plant. They tend to be 10-25 cm long, have a serrated edge, and have an extremely aromatic smell.

Damiana is legal in almost all countries, with certain US states being an exception. The dried leaves are legal for purchase, however, some vendors have used Damiana as a cover to sell synthetic cannabinoid products. A well known case is the product Black Mamba, which was sold in the UK as a 100% Damiana formula, but intact did contain other illegal and synthetic cannabinoids. Black Mamba is now a controlled substance and illegal in many countries.

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Damiana has an incredibly rich history, having been used for centuries amongst various cultures. And despite the prominence of pharmaceutical medication knocking many herbal treatments into the background, herbalists and scientists are coming together to prove damiana’s efficacy once again. We have already alluded to its ability to increase libido, but that’s not the only benefit the herb might have.


Aside from the boost in blood flow and sexual potency, damiana could have a multi-faceted approach to increasing sexual stamina. In a comprehensive review of all known herbal aphrodisiacs, boosting the sexual behaviour of exhausted rats wasn’t damiana’s only key attribute. Scientists uncovered that the herb’s potential might come from its synergy with other compounds. Caffeine, arbutin and a sophisticated blend of flavonoids were all found within damiana plant extract, supporting the concept that together they act as an adaptogen.

Adaptogens are unique plants or extracts that support the adrenal system. The adrenal system is responsible for managing the body’s stress response, as well as sleep patterns and mood. The result? Well—we know what we would be doing more of if we weren’t stressed, tired and in a bad mood all the time.


This benefit may seem obvious, especially now that we know damiana interacts with our adrenal system. However, the importance of our adrenal system should not be underestimated. Stress is never just a single symptom, but can manifest in numerous detrimental ways. Effective management of stress is essential to keeping our mind and body healthy.

The fundamental mechanism of the adrenal system is to produce several hormones via endocrine glands. Promoting a healthy adrenal system is essential to maintaining the optimum balance of cortisol, a hormone directly linked to our body’s stress response. It doesn’t only support the body’s ability to respond to stress, but it can also increase metabolism, control blood pressure and reduce inflammation.


Alongside the flavonoids we mentioned earlier, one particular compound that has caught the eye of researchers is pinocembrin. Found within the leaves of damiana plants, pinocembrin could play a pivotal role in patients with breast cancer.

In combination, damiana extract with pinocembrin and acacetin could significantly suppress aromatase activity. Aromatase inhibitors stop the production of estrogen, which could be useful for breast cancer patients whose lesions contain estrogen receptors.


Finally, another key benefit of damiana is its potent antioxidant effect, which was discovered when the herb was orally tested on rats with diabetes and kidney disease. At the end of the five-week study, researchers concluded that it may prevent damage induced by oxidative stress in the kidneys.

As studies continue, damiana’s versatility appears to increase in kind. It looks like all those ancient cultures had the right idea. Now all we need to do is allow modern medicine to confirm what they already knew.

What Are The Effects Of Damiana?

Damiana has been used for centuries primarily as an aphrodisiac and sexual tonic. It has been shown to substantially increase the libido in both sexes alike, which is one reason the herb is widely used in Mexico to create a stimulating Damiana margarita drink.

The herb can mildly elevate the mood and act as an anti-depressant, similar to St. Johns Wort, albeit milder in effect. The mild uplifting effects could be due to the overall relaxation the herb induces, physical and mental alike.

One of the ways Damiana is though to increase sexual potency is by increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. A better oxygen supply benefits the body overall and quickly increases the mood and sexual potency. Studies on rats have shown very positive results, dramatically improving their sexual performance. However, studies on humans have not been conducted, as with many other herbs.

In native tribes as well as in modern phytotherapy, Damiana is applied as a nervine which relieves nervous tension, weakness and exhaustion. It is considered a plant that balances and tones the glandular and hormonal systems, with particular affinity for the reproductive system.

How To Use Damiana?

Damiana can be consumed in a few different ways, namely by tea, vaping, smoking or making a liquor.

While Damiana has some immediate effects, they tend to build up and increase over a period of weeks. As with many herbs, consuming it regularly in smaller amounts will lead to longer lasting benefits, while punctual high doses tend to have a short lived but stronger effect. After a period of regular consumption of any herb, a pause of a few weeks is always recommended before the plant is taken up again.

  • Damiana Tea

The most common method is to brew Damiana into a tea. Tea is often considered the most effective method and is best taken at regular intervals over a period of a couple of weeks to fully bring out its benefits.

For regular consumption, use about 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup, and steep in hot water for 10-15 minutes. To brew a strong, one off dose, use 10-15 grams of dried Damiana and steep in 1 liter of hot water. You can reduce the water amount by boiling it off, or just split up the dose in various cups. Add in a little bit of honey to add a little bit of sweetness to the drink!

  • Vaping Damiana

If you like to vaporize, Damiana is a good candidate. Vaping allows for all of the chemical compounds to be efficiently extracted and inhaled. The ideal vaporizing temperature of Damiana is 190 degrees Celsius.

View Top 10 Vaporizers

  • Smoking Damiana

This is the least favoured method of taking Damiana. Simply use it in a pipe or joint, like you would with tobacco. Unlike vaping or making a tea, smoking Damiana is harmful to your health. This is due to the process of combustion involved in the burning of the plant matter. This process creates a plethora of harmful toxins that are present in smoke.

  • Damiana liquor

The Damiana liquor is another common and effective way to consume the plant. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Mix 60g of dried Damiana leaf for every liter of vodka, and let this soak for at least 10 days.

  2. Strain though a meshed strainer and then filter off with a coffee filter.

  3. Take the alcohol drenched leaves and soak them in about 500ml water overnight.

  4. Strain and filter the leaves from the water, throw away the plant matter.

  5. Gently warm the infused water and add 1 – 2 cups of honey; slowly dissolve the sugar in the water.

  6. Mix the infused vodka with the infused honey, and let it sit for 2 – 3 months. After that, carefully decant the liquor and bottle.

You could also try your hand at making a delicious Damina Margarita. Break out the nachos and guacamole, and enjoy a damiana-fueld fiesta!

The History Of Damiana

Damiana use dates back many centuries. When the spanish missionaries arrived in present day Mexico, they already observed the native tribes drinking Damiana tea.

But most likely its use dates back even further; 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 the 1870’s Damiana began to spread as a commercial product. It was imported into the USA where it was sold as part of tonics, elixirs and tinctures. Already then it was mainly used as an aphrodisiac that would improve sexual ability, especially in the old and enfeebled.

In 1888 Damiana was added to the first edition of the American “National Formulary” as both an elixir and a liquid extract, but never proved itself enough to be entered into the pharmacopeia. Due to this failure, it was dropped from the National Formulary in 1916, but the liquid extract from its leaves was kept in until 1947.

Knowledge about Damiana was slowly fading away, until it was rediscovered in the 1960s by ethnobotanists and hippies alike. Along with many other herbs, Damiana has since found a permanent place in the medicine closet of herbalists and phytotherapists.

When Not To Take Damiana

While Damiana is generally safe and non-toxic, there are certain situations in which Damiana should not be consumed. Damiana should not be used during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, or when diabetes has been diagnosed. In certain studies Damiana has been shown to lower blood sugar and potentially induce hypoglycemia, therefore caution is advised particularly in men with diabetes. Excess use of Damiana also has been associated with potential liver damage and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Turnera Diffusa
Damiane, Oreganillo, The Bourrique, Mexican Damiana, Mexican Holly, Damiana De Guerrero, Damina.
Damiana is a safe and natural way to improve your health and lifestyle. Unlike many modern natral medications, there are few dangerous side effects of Damiana, although a rare allergic reaction is possible. Damiana is unusual among natural medications in the sense that you do not have to take it consistently to feel its powerful effects. However, all Damiana effects are gradually heightened as you take the supplement regularly and your body adjusts. This is in contrast to most modern medicines and even many herbal remedies, which generally dissipate from the body within a very short time if you do not choose to take them constantly.
The leaves of the Damiana plant are used for medicinal purposes. These are usually dried but can be used fresh as well. The dried herb can be used as a tea or tincture, or it can be smoked or burned as incense.
HEALTH RISKS (long term) which includes withdrawal & tolerance:
The medicinal effects of smoking Damiana leaf, or taking it in a tea or tincture, are three-fold. Damiana leaf is the medicinal part of the plant, and has been used traditionally as an aphrodisiac for men and women, a hormonal balancer, and an herbal anti-depressant with mild sedative action. As an aphrodisiac, Damiana may increase female libido and acts as a natural remedy for impotence in men, possibly by stimulating blood flow to the genitals. There is also evidence that Damiana leaf contains an oil which is antiseptic and stimulates the urinary tract when it is taken orally in tea.
Damiena is legal in the UK. A product known as “Black Mamba”, labelled as containing “100% Damiana”, has been on sale in the UK; ill effects from its use have been reported. “Black Mamba” (illegal in the UK) is a combination of Damiana and various synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, including JWH-018.

  1. Damiana, is a shrub native to Southwestern Texas in the United States, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean.
  2. Damiana belongs to the family Passifloraceae (a family of flowering plants, containing about 530 species classified in around 27 genera. They include Trees, Shrubs, Lianas and Climbing Plants, and are mostly found in tropical regions).
  3. Damiana is a relatively small Shrub that produces small, Aromatic Flowers. It blossoms in early to late Summer and is followed by Fruits that taste similar to Figs
  4. The leaves have traditionally been made into a tea and an Incense which was used by native people of Central and South America for its relaxing effects.
  5. Damiana leaves have been used as an aphrodisiac and to boost sexual potency by the native peoples of Mexico, including the Mayan Indians and is used for both male and female sexual stimulation, increased energy, Asthma, Depression, Impotence and Menstrual problems.
  6. It is an Anti-Depressant and is known to strengthen and tonify the Central Nervous System and is used for emotional stress, including Anxiety, Depression and mood disorders. It is also thought to be helpful in conditions of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
  7. It is a general Hormone balancer, and is used for Menstrual irregularities, including coming off the birth control pill, headaches, exhaustion and hot flushes.
  8. It is a tonic and diuretic and is also indicated as helpful in the conditions of nervous Stomach upsets, Colic, Gastric Ulcers and Constipation.
  9. The leaves contain substances like Essential Oil, Resins, Tannins, Starch, Arbutin, Barterin and a bitter substance known as Damianin.
  10. It has been used in folk medicine to treat Asthma and Bronchitis, particularly in Indian herbal medicine.

Damiana is a small shrub with aromatic leaves found on dry, sunny, rocky hillsides in south Texas, Southern California, Mexico, and Central America. Damiana leaves have been used as an aphrodisiac and to boost sexual potency by the native peoples of Mexico, including the Mayan Indians. The two species used in herbal healing, both of which are referred to as damiana, are Turnera aphrodisiaca and Turnera diffusa.

Historically damiana has been used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and mild depression, especially if these symptoms have a sexual component. The herb is also used as a general tonic to improve wellness.

Damiana has also been used traditionally to improve digestion and to treat constipation, as in larger doses it is thought to have a mild laxative effect.

It is well known in southwestern cultures as a sexuality tonic and is recommended by many top herbalists. It stimulates the intestinal tract and brings oxygen to the genital area. It also increases energy levels which does a lot to restore libido and desire. In women, Damiana often restores the ability to achieve orgasm. Damiana is used primarily as an energy tonic and an aphrodisiac for both men and women.

Damiana has a dual effect. It can work quickly to stimulate the genital area by enriching the oxygen supply. Longer term use can improve sexual fitness and performance.

The libido-boosting power of damiana hasn’t been tested in humans, although a liquor made from the leaves has long been used as an aphrodisiac in Mexico. In animal studies, extracts of damiana speeded up the mating behavior of “sexually sluggish” or impotent male rats. It had no effect on sexually potent rats.

The chemical composition of damiana is complex and all of the components have not been completely identified. However, the known make-up is 0.5-1% volatile oil, flavonoids, gonzalitosin, arbutin, tannin and damianin (a brown bitter substance). It also contains essential oils (containing cineol, cymol, pinene), cyanogenic glycosides, thymol and trace amounts of phosphorus.

How damiana works as an aphrodisiac is currently not known. It is also claimed that when drank as a tea it has a relaxing effect not-unlike low doses of cannabis.

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