Common name: Damiana
Other names: Damiana aphrodisiaca
Latin name: Turnera diffusa
Affinity: Nervous system, reproductive system
Actions: Nervine tonic, reproductive tonic, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, diuretic
Diseases: Impotence(2), prostatitis(3), anxiety(3), depression(3), sterility(3), frigidity(3)
Parts used: Leaves and stems
Characteristics: Damiana is a small shrub that grows throughout Mexico, Central and Southern America, and the Caribbean (Arletti et al., 1999).
History: Damiana has an ancient history of medicinal use with the Maya people reportedly using it for loss of balance and dizziness (Zhao et al., 2008). The Mexican Indians traditionally used its leaves to make an aphrodisiac drink. Damiana was first marketed in the U.S.A in 1874 and sold as a ‘cure for impotency and debility’. From 1888 to 1947, damiana was collected officially in the National Formulary. Also, the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia indicated it for anxiety with a sexual factor, debility, lethargy, and depression.
Current applications: Thomas Bartram lists damiana as useful for enhancing sexual performance, impotence, frigidity, sterility, prostatitis, and also physicial and nervous exhaustion (Bartram, 2013).
Science: Damiana has been found to contain various compounds including flavonoids, terpenoids, and saccharides. However, very little work has been done examining the activity of damiana extracts and there are no human clinical studies. One study however, did find in an in vivo model that a combination of Damiana and Pfaffia paniculata enhanced sexual performance (Arletti et al., 1999). Another study, found a compound found in damiana called, arbutin, displayed anti-ulcer activity (Taha et al., 2012).
Safety: Damiana is safe and able to be used by all ages and those pregnant or breast feeding.
Dosage: 1-3ml tincture, two or three times per day.
Brands: In the U.K., I recommend The Wild Pharma, in the U.S.A., Herb Pharm.
Research on models
Sexual stimulatory activity: Damiana and Pfaffia paniculata extracts were combined and found to enhance sexual performance in impotent or less potent in vivo models (Arletti et al., 1999).
Anti-ulcer activity: Damiana extracted arbutin was investigated using in vivo ulceration models and it was found to possess anti-ulcer activity (Taha et al., 2012).
Arletti, R., et al. “Stimulating property of Turnera diffusa and Pfaffia paniculata extracts on the sexual behavior of male rats.” Psychopharmacology 143.1 (1999): 15-19.
Bartram, Thomas. Bartram’s encyclopedia of herbal medicine. Hachette UK, 2013.
Taha, Manal Mohamed Elhassan, et al. “Gastroprotective activities of Turnera diffusa Willd. ex Schult. revisited: Role of arbutin.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 141.1 (2012): 273-281.
Zhao, Jianping, et al. “Anti-aromatase activity of the constituents from damiana (Turnera diffusa).” Journal of ethnopharmacology 120.3 (2008): 387-393.