Damiana Leaf - 8 Amazing Benefits

Damiana may be famed for its aphrodisiac qualities, but this unassuming shrub has numerous other potential uses.

 

From stress relief, stomach ulcers, menstrual symptoms and urinary tract infections, Damiana Leaf has been used as an herbal remedy for ailments of the mind and body by many cultures, both ancient and modern.

Read on for more amazing benefits of Damiana and what it can do for your health.

8 amazing benefits


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What is Damiana?


Damiana, Turnera Diffusa, is a small aromatic shrub that grows wild on the rocky hillsides of dry, sunny regions including Texas, California, Mexico and other parts of Central and South America.

Damiana contains several flavonoids, including arbutin, with anti-oxidant activities believed to be responsible for many of the plant’s therapeutic benefits.

Damiana leaves, collected during the blooming period and dried, are most beneficial in terms of stimulating, aphrodisiac effects. They contain a number of valuable substances, such as terpenes, pinenes, caffeine, and essential oils, which provide direct nerve stimulation, increase the blood circulation to the sex organs and stimulate the metabolic rate.

Like many herbal remedies, we have little to go on other than anecdotal reports and a long history of use, but there have been several scientific studies looking especially at the aphrodisiac claims of the herb.

Quick Facts About Damiana

  • Damiana is known by various names including yerba de la Pastora,  organello, bourrique and old woman’s broom.
  • It is native to Texas, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
  • Damiana grows up to two meters in height bearing a single, distinctive yellow flower.
  • The dried leaves of the plant are used to make a tea infusion.
  • Damiana is also available in a supplementary form including liquid extract, tinctures, and capsules.
  • Indigenous people have used Damiana as an aphrodisiac for centuries.
  • It has also been used traditionally to treat urinary tract infections and emotional problems like depression and anxiety.
  • The essential oils in the plant give it a scent reminiscent of chamomile.

What is Damiana used for?

 

1. Damiana is an ancient herbal aphrodisiac

 


Damiana’s claim to fame is probably its historical use in treating a broad range of sexual issues in both men and women. Published research confirms that its use as a bedroom tonic is far more than a mythical folk remedy.

Research suggests that Damiana has such a positive effect on the libido because it promotes blood flow to the genital regions and regulates estrogen and progesterone activity.

It is also said to provide an energy boost and increase stamina which might be linked to its aphrodisiac uses as well as helping to combat fatigue and lethargy.

A study published in 2009 demonstrated that sexually exhausted rats treated with Damiana improved their sexual behavior significantly. Rats given Damiana were more likely to achieve more than one ejaculation and the post-ejaculatory period was reduced before repeat sexual activity.
Analysis from the same research found that caffeine, flavonoids, and arbutine were the main active compounds in the extract. Researchers concluded that Damiana was a possible alternative treatment for sexual dysfunction. (1)


2. Damiana has a grounding, calming effect on the nervous system


Damiana is said to produce a mild euphoric effect on the mind. 

Damiana is popular in some parts of Europe, most notably Germany, as an herbal remedy for stress and other nervous disorders. A compound called Damianin present in the plant has been proven to produce a calming effect on the nervous system.


The Mayan and Mexican people have been using it as a mood enhancer for centuries.  It has been used to treat a variety of stress-related symptoms such as upset stomach, bed wetting and to calm the nerves. These traditional uses of Damiana point to the grounding and calming effect of this plant.


Unlike many prescription pharmaceuticals, Damiana is considered to be safe in moderate doses and might help those suffering from anxiety and other nerve related problems.



3. Damiana Treats Stomach Ulcers


Damiana has also been used to treat a number of gastric complaints including peptic ulcers. Its effect is likely due to the plant’s arbutin content and a study published in 2012 set out to evaluate its ability to treat two types of ulcer.
The researchers concluded that Damiana possessed anti-ulcer activity which they attributed to the anti-oxidant effects of arbutin. (2)



4. Damiana Combined With Other Herbs Helps With Weight Maintenance


Like so many other herbal decoctions, there are claims that Damiana tea can help bring your weight under control. Some people suggest that it works as a mild laxative by loosening the stools and cleansing the system but there is some evidence that it is more effective when combined with other plants.


A Danish study published in 2001 combined Damiana with yerba mate and guarana and discovered that this combination of herbs produced a thermogenic effect (increase heat production in the body so body fat is used as energy instead of fat) and also suppressed the appetite. The study examined the effect of this combination on 47 overweight patients to determine its weight loss effect at 10 days, 45 days and 12 months.


The patients who were given the combination of herbs in capsule form before their main meal lost significantly more weight than the placebo group for the first 45 days. The researchers concluded that the combination supplement significantly delayed gastric emptying which resulted in patients feeling full faster. (3)



5. Damiana May Ease Bladder Infections


According to documentation, damiana has traditionally been used in South America to treat urinary problems and bladder infections. These traditional uses are not supported by modern scientific research but that does not necessarily mean that these anecdotal reports are false.


6. Damiana Supports Healthy Digestion


It is possible that damiana can be consumed as a natural way to improve digestion. It can help to facilitate the breakdown of fats and sugars in your digestive system while improving the way you absorb nutrients. This not only ensures that your digestive system is working at its best but also ensures you are getting all the necessary benefits from the food you eat.
Damiana may also help keep your digestive tract clean from toxins which can hinder digestion and leave you feeling sick. It is also believed to help treat indigestion and constipation because of its laxative properties.



7. Damiana Provides Antioxidant Benefits


A recent study published in 2017 set out to examine the antioxidant potential of water extracts (WEE) of damiana on the kidney health of diabetic rats.

The researchers found that damiana exerted significant antioxidant effects beneficial to kidney mitochondria. In conclusion, the researchers had the following to say.
“In conclusion, WEE of T. diffusa has antioxidant properties that may prevent damage induced by mitochondrial oxidative stress in kidneys of STZ-DM rats.” (4)

The antioxidant potential of damiana means that it could help protects against a host of serious diseases caused by oxidative damage including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.


8. Damiana opens the heart and mind


As well as the more common uses referred to above, Damiana has been used by ancient cultures in Mesoamerica for its ability  to open the heart and enhance dreams.  Damiana is sometimes used as a natural high with many claiming that it has stimulant effects similar to small doses of cannabis.
 

A woman drinks tea from a blue cup

How to enjoy the benefits of Damiana


Damiana is available in several different forms. It can be bought as a prepared tincture, extract and essential oil.  The dried herb can be taken in capsules, steeped for tea, or enjoyed in an herbal smoking blend.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions


Damiana is considered safe, but please note that hallucinations have been reported when it was taken in extremely high doses (200 grams).
* If you are pregnant or nursing, you should stay on the side of caution and avoid taking Damiana as we do not yet know enough about its effect on the infant.
* People with preexisting liver conditions should avoid taking damiana.
* Diabetics should be careful when using Damiana as it may affect blood sugar levels.
* Because it affects blood glucose, you are recommended not to take Damiana within 2 weeks of any planned surgery.
* If you are buying the plant there is an issue of False Damiana (Turnera ulmifolia) being widely sold as they are easily mistaken.

(1)  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19501274


(2)  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22374081


(3)  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11424516


(4)  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28948849

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