Learn More About Damiana

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What Is Damiana?

The shrub damiana, also known as Turnera diffusa or Turnera aphrodisiaca, grows up to a height of six feet, and is found in Mexico, and Central and South America. This herb has highly aromatic leaves one of the reasons it is used in some liqueurs. Although still found in the wild in certain areas, most damiana today can be found in Mexican and Latin American herbal ranches.

What Is Damiana Used For?

Controlled clinical trials that have examined damiana’s potential benefits are few in number, although this herb boasts of a long history of folk use. Traditonal herbalists regard damiana primarily as an aphrodisiac, and researchers suspect that it has a variety of effects on the endocrine(that is, hormonal) and reproductive systems. As a medicinal plant, damiana has been used to treat menstrual disorders, nervousness, and diabetes, and seems to be helpful as a diuretic and a laxative as well.

But without question, it is damiana’s reputation as an aphrodisiac that makes it one of the top-selling herbs in the Western world. Damiana extracts appear to block the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen, thereby increasing both energy and sexual interest. Animal studies indicate that damiana induces a process called “smooth muscle contraction,” which stimulates the intestinal tract as well as brings oxygen to the genital area.

Work with so-called “impotent rats” also suggests that damiana administered in the amount of 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight can promote a noticeably increased libido, and cause the rats to display a shorter “refractory period”--in other words, a short time between bouts of sexual activity. No additional effect was observed in rats that had a normal level of sexual interest and activity, and it did not cause an increase in anxiety or restlessness. Analysis of damiana seems to indicate that this herb has some of the same flavonoid compunds and essential oils that are found in another popular sexual tonic, the herb yohimbe.

Studies in India support the notion that damiana may also be useful for relief of anxiety associated with a wide variety of so-called women’s complaints such as premenstrual syndrome and menopause. It has traditionally been used for this reason by herbalists, particularly in Mexico, who often refer to damiana as a kind of “women’s ginseng.” (Keep in mind, though, that the aphrodisiac effect has been noted in both men and women.)
Some users claim that that when drunk as a tea it has relaxing properties, an effect consistent with its reported anti-anxiety benefits.

How Is Damiana Used?

Typically damiana is taken in capsule form two or three times a day, dosages of around four or five hundred milligrams per capsule. It can also be consumed in the form of a tincture, with doses ranging from one-half to one milliliter per does, several times a day. Some prefer it in the form of a tea, in which several grams of leaves are boiled for five to ten minutes before consumption., and users report good effects from these forms as well. Do not take it as a liqueur, nor should it be smoked.

Is Damiana Safe?

Do not take damiana if you are pregnant. A few people have reported nausea or dizziness after taking damiana, but this side effect appears to be rare and transient. Other than these cautions, damiana appears at this time to be safe.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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