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Damiana (Turnera diffusa)


Parts used and where grown: The leaves of damiana were originally used as medicine by the indigenous cultures of Central America, particularly Mexico. Today the plant is found in hot, humid, climates including parts of Texas.

In what conditions might damiana be supportive?

¥ depression

¥ impotence (male infertility)

Historical or traditional use: Damiana has been hailed as an aphrodisiac since ancient times, particularly by the native peoples of Mexico.1 Other folk uses have included asthma, bronchitis, neurosis, and various sexual disorders.2 It has also been promoted as a euphoria-inducing substance at various times.

Active constituents: Most research has been done on the essential oil of damiana, which includes numerous small, fragrant substances called terpenes. As yet, it is unclear if the essential oil is truly the main active fraction of damiana. The leaves also contain the antimicrobial substance arbutin, alkaloids, and other potentially important compounds.3

How much should I take? To make a tea, add 250 ml (1 cup) boiling water to 1 gram of dried leaves; allow to steep ten to fifteen minutes. Drink three cups per day. To use in tincture form, take 2-3 ml three times per day. Tablets or capsules may also be used in the amount of 400&endash;800 mg three times per day. Damiana is not usually used alone; it is believed to be more effective when combined with other herbs of similar or complementary activity.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Higher doses of damiana may induce a mild sense of euphoria. The leaves have a minor laxative effect, which is more pronounced at higher intakes, and may cause loosening of stools.4


1. Bradley PR, ed. British Herbal Compendium, vol 1.   Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 71-2.
2. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 492.
3. Bradley PR, ed. British Herbal Compendium, vol 1.  Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 71-2.
4. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. Middlesex, UK: Viking Arkana, 1991, 516-7

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

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