Other Common Names:
The other common names for the shrub damiana are Mexican damiana, Mexican holly, herba de la pastora and old womans broom.
Damiana is one of the most popular and safest herbs to restore natural sexual capacities and functions and has been used as an aphrodisiac, going back to ancient Mayan times. From 1888 to 1947 damiana leaf and damiana elixirs were listed in the National Formulary in the United States.
For more than a century damiana's use has been associated with improving sexual function in both males and females.Damiana contains substances called terpenes, beta-sitoserol, arbutin, alkaloids and various aromatic oils that have a stimulant effect on the sexual apparatus and help to build sexual health and reproductivity.The botanical Latin name of the plant, Turnera aphrodisiaca, describes its ancient use as an aphrodisiac. The Greeks named Damiana "aphrodisiakos" and is known as the "goddess of love." Also called the "love potion" since it is used as a stimulant by men and women, especially the elderly.
The plant has approximately 1-2 m in height which is woody and heavily branched. Its leaves are 10-25 cm long and they are toothed on the edge. The upper side of the leaves is smooth and pale green, while the lower one is hairy on the ribs. The leaves have a pleasant scent of chamomile. Damiana blooms during the whole summer with yellow flowers that rise from the leaves' axils. The plant has small fruits that resemble a capsule divided into three parts. They are sweet and smell like fig. The medicinal part of the plant is its leaves, which are harvested during the flowering season.
Damiana is a native of Mexico and grows on the brushy hillsides along the Rio Grande in South Texas, into West Texas, Southern California, the West Indies and South America.
The ideal habitat preferred by the herb is a hot and humid climate. The herb flowers in the summer, when the harvesting of the leaves is carried out. It is generally seen growing in woodland, sunny edge and by walls.
Damiana may be planted outdoors in the South and West, or in the greenhouse in the North. It thrives in any good soil if given a sunny location. It should be watered freely from spring to fall, and sparingly in winter. In the greenhouse the temperature should stand around 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Damiana is propagated by seeds and cuttings. The leaves and tops are harvested while the plant is in flower in summer. As some of the active principle is volatile, the tops are preferably dried in the shade, without the application of heat. Seed are sown in spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from winter cold for at least their first winter outdoors. Division takes place in spring or autumn. It is possible that, whilst the plant will be cut back to the ground by cold weather, the rootstock is hardier and will re-sprout in the spring. It will certainly be worthwhile trying the plant outdoors and giving the roots thick protective mulch in the autumn.
The stems are upright with small yellow flowers that produce sweet smelling fruit and are in bloom between early to late summer.
Pests and Diseases
Rarely it is said to be disturbed by aphids and powdery mildew. Other damaging insects include flatheaded borers like Chrysobothris azurea and Agrilus cephalicus.
The leaves of damiana are the most commonly used parts of the plant for its medicinal and commercial applications.
• Damiana is a tonic and restorative for the nervous system, and has always been considered an aphrodisiac. Its tonic action is partly due to the constituent, thymol, which has an antiseptic and tonic action.
• It has been used for such conditions as depression, anxiety, sexual inadequacy, debilitation, bed-wetting, menstrual irregularities, gastric ulcers, and constipation.
• Helps balance female hormones and alleviate menopause symptoms.
• Other medical applications include being used to treat asthma, bronchitis, neurosis, and gastrointestinal problems such as dysentery. It can also relieve or reduce headaches.
• The damiana possesses both a diuretic and urinary antiseptic action, it is very effective in the treatment of urinary infections, including cases of cystitis and urethritis affecting patients.
• Traditionally the damiana has been linked to disorders affecting men, largely due to its strong testosterogenic quality, hence, the herb has always been principally considered as being useful for men. It is known to be helpful in the treatment of conditions such as premature ejaculation and long term impotence in men.
• The mildly laxative action of the damiana is another important property it possesses as an herbal remedy; the herb is very effective in the treatment of persistent constipation which is caused by a poor muscle tone in the bowel musculature.
• It is also used in treating prostate cancer.
• Scientific testing has shown that damiana can be effective with certain weight loss treatments, and has been beneficial in reducing blood sugar.
• The leaves have also been used as flavouring in liqueurs, a substitute for tea, and for other medical, recreational, or spiritual purposes.
• The leaves are strongly scented and are used in perfumery.