Damiana is a shrub whose leaves contain precious active ingredients: flavonoids, alkaloids, or even damianine. This unique composition allows it to act both physically and mentally. Known for its toning action, damiana is also beneficial for the nervous system, and considered a natural aphrodisiac. So many good reasons to take a closer look at this plant from America.
BENEFITS OF DAMIANA:
- Improves sexual activity
- Supports the nervous system
- Reduces blood sugar
- Potentially anti-cancer
- Improves physical capacities
What is Damiana?
Damiana has the scientific name Turnera diffusa. Native to America, it grows wild in the tropics of Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of the United States (Texas, California, etc.). It is also found in India and Africa, in areas where the climate is hot and humid.
Damiana is a shrub belonging to the Passifloraceae family comprising more than 600 different species, all originating from tropical regions. The genus Turnera alone has about a hundred species, including the one that interests us here: the Turnera diffusa. The “real” damiana should not be confused with the Caribbean damiana (Turnera ulmifolia) which does not have medicinal properties.
Can reach 2 m in height, it has a thick and hairy root. Its long, pale green leaves are very aromatic. From July to October, the shrub is adorned with beautiful yellow flowers which, once wilted, give way to small edible fruits. It is at this time, after flowering, that the leaves are harvested.
Once harvested, the leaves of damiana can be dried to be consumed as an infusion. They are also reported to be used in the preparation of an herbal aphrodisiac drink, consumed by the indigenous peoples of Mexico including the Mayans. In popular Mexican culture, it is also mixed with tequila to make love filters!
In addition to its action on sexuality, it has traditionally been used to strengthen the body, relieve menstrual problems and fight anxiety.
Today, the dried leaves of damiana are found directly in sachets or in food supplements (tablets, capsules or mother tinctures). The demand is growing. This growth is driven by recent discoveries by scientists who, in addition to confirming the aphrodisiac action of damiana, have highlighted other benefits of the plant.
- Glucosides: arbutin, tetraphylline
- Flavonoids: damianin, apigenin, echinacin, pinocembrin, acacetin
- Terpenoids: teuhenone A
The Benefits of Damiana Complete Guide:
Improves Sexual Activity
Damiana has long been used in traditional medicines to enhance sexual activity. On the one hand, it promotes desire, increases energy in men and women and improves recovery after sexual activity. On the other hand, it fights against sexual disorders such as impotence, erection problem, premature ejaculation, frigidity …
Damiana’s aphrodisiac action is due to the flavonoids in its leaves. Pinocembrin and acetin are natural substances that inhibit the activity of aromatase. This enzyme converts testosterone into estrogen. However, by limiting this conversion, it increases the level of testosterone, thus improving sexuality.
Flavonoids and alkaloids also promote good blood circulation in the genitals. In addition, they reduce stress and anxiety, which are responsible for many sexual disorders.
Other active ingredients in damiana help improve sexuality. Caffeine, for example, is a natural tonic that decreases erectile dysfunction, facilitates blood flow and promotes relaxation of the muscles of the penis. Numerous research has confirmed the benefits of damiana on sexual activity.
This University of Mississippi lab study shows how flavonoids significantly suppress aromatase activity.
This another study by the National Institute of Psychiatry Ramón de la Fuente Muñiz in Mexico, conducted on men, demonstrates the aphrodisiac activity of damiana.
Supports the Nervous System
Damiana is one of the adaptogenic plants such as ginseng, maca, rhodiola or even astragalus. These plants have the ability to improve the body’s resistance to situations of stress and anxiety. To do this, they act on the adrenal glands located above each kidney. These glands help release certain hormones including the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is essential for supporting the nervous system. Contrary to what you might think, it helps control stress. By supporting the functioning of the adrenal glands, damiana therefore helps us to react better in stressful situations.
Apigenin, one of the flavonoids contained in the leaves, also has an anxiolytic effect: it relieves anxiety, promotes calm and relaxation. Damiana is therefore invaluable in cases of stress, anxiety, nervous fatigue, overwork or mild depression.
This study from Panjab University in Chandigarh, India, conducted on mice, demonstrates the sedative, anti-stress and anti-depressive activity of apigenin.
Reduces Blood Sugar
Damiana is one of the hypoglycemic plants capable of reducing the level of sugar in the blood. Its action is due to the terpenoids it contains and more precisely to teuhenone A.
Like medication for diabetes, this natural molecule inhibits the activity of alpha-glucosidase and prevents the digestion of carbohydrates. Therefore, this plant can be interesting for people with diabetes.
This study from different Mexican universities, carried out on mice, shows that teuhenone A extracted from damiana has an activity comparable to insulin. Its blood sugar lowering effect is even greater than that of glibenclamide, an anti-diabetic medicine used against type 2 diabetes.
Several studies have demonstrated the potential of damiana in the fight against cancer. Indeed, some of its compounds have a cytotoxic effect on cancer cells: they inhibit their development and can go as far as destroying them.
Once again, apigenin is responsible for this activity. It can induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) and necrosis (death and breakdown) of some cancer cells.
This study by the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, conducted on tumor cell lines, demonstrates for the first time the cytotoxic effect of damiana on cancer cells in breast cancer.
Improves Physical Abilities
Thanks to different active compounds, damiana improves physical capacities. It is an excellent natural tonic which increases the energy and physical resistance of the body. It is an interesting plant in case of fatigue, weakness, lethargy or as part of a sports practice.
These properties are partly due to the increase in the level of testosterone in the blood via flavonoids. Indeed, testosterone is not just a sex hormone. It is also the hormone of physical energy, strength and mass gain.
In addition, this herb boosts the production of red blood cells, thus improving recovery, oxygen transport and muscle power.
Finally, the apigenin of damiana has an analgesic effect which reduces pain in the event of injuries, muscle tears …
Studies are still needed to assess the effectiveness of damiana in improving physical performance.
How to consume Damiana?
Dried Leaves of Damiana
The dried leaves can be sold directly in bulk or in sachets. It is an interesting form to consume damiana as an infusion. Preferably choose damiana grown organically.
To make damiana tea, steep the equivalent of a level teaspoon per cup in hot water for 10 minutes. Once filtered, your infusion is ready.
Damiana leaves have a fairly strong and slightly bitter flavor. To avoid this taste, you can opt for tablets or capsules containing powder of damiana leaves. This is a form that you can easily find in organic and specialty stores or on the Internet.
The capsules or tablets must be sufficiently concentrated in damiana. Choosing a 4: 1 ratio (that is, a single 500 mg capsule is equivalent to 2000 mg of damiana leaves) is beneficial to enjoy the benefits of the plant.
You can also eat damiana in powder form. After harvest, the leaves are then dried and then reduced to powder.
Preferably choose pure powder, from plants grown in organic farming, non-ionized and without preservatives. Damiana powder can be mixed with water, fruit juice, a smoothie, yogurt …
Damiana in Mother Tincture
It is possible to find the mother tincture of damiana, obtained by hydro-alcoholic maceration of the fresh leaves. This form of food supplement is often very rich in active ingredients but has the disadvantage of containing a large amount of alcohol.
It is advisable to choose a certified organic mother tincture from which the plants have been harvested in the wild, far from any possible pollution.
Damiana and Aphrodisiac Plants
Associating damiana with maca (Lepidium meyenii) is interesting to accentuate its aphrodisiac activity. Nicknamed “Peruvian Viagra”, maca is an energizing plant that boosts libido, fights erectile dysfunction and stimulates fertility.
Damiana’s aphrodisiac action is also enhanced when combined with cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis), tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) or ginseng (Panax ginseng).
To improve mental well-being, reduce stress and anxiety, it is possible to combine damiana with griffonia (Griffonia simplicifolia), rhodiola or kudzu (Pueraria montana).
Dosage of Damiana:
The recommended dosage is between 800 and 2000 mg per day. It takes several weeks to see the first effects.
The catches are distributed throughout the day, preferably during meals. However, avoid consuming damiana at the end of the day as it may interfere with falling asleep.
Damiana is particularly beneficial in long doses. Cures of 2 to 3 months act in depth to improve sexual health and regain mental well-being. Take breaks of a few weeks between each treatment.
- In dried leaves: 1 level teaspoon per cup per day.
- In tablets: up to 5 per day for 400 mg capsules.
- In powder: 1 level teaspoon per day.
- As a mother tincture: 1 teaspoonful, 3 times a day.
Contraindications and Side Effects:
Although damiana is often well tolerated by the body, its consumption has certain contraindications. Therefore, it is not recommended for the following people:
- As a precaution, young children, pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking damiana.
- Consumption of damiana is not recommended for people with iron deficiency, hypoglycemia, liver, kidney or urinary tract disease, or an enlarged prostate.
- People on medication or with a history of breast cancer should seek advice from their doctor before consuming it.
Taking damiana can cause some side effects, which are usually mild. The following side effects have been reported:
- Laxative effect.
- Increased amount of urine.
- Gastrointestinal disorders.
If symptoms persist, stop your consumption and consult a doctor. In high doses damiana can cause kidney and liver damage.
History, Culture and Damiana Market:
Damiana is a plant that has been consumed since time immemorial. Used by indigenous peoples, it would have been listed for the first time by Father Juan Maria de Salvatierra. This Spanish missionary, sent to Mexico in 1675, reported that damiana leaves were mixed with sugar and then consumed for their aphrodisiac properties.
Over the centuries, the leaves have seen other uses. In 1885, they were used in the preparation of the ancestor of Coca-Cola, the “French Wine Coca”, based on alcohol, coca, Kola nut and damiana. The Mayans could also burn the leaves like incense. In Mexico, they are still used today to make a traditional liqueur made from Mexican plants.
In the end, it was the hippie movement that brought damiana up to date in the 1960s. Its leaves were then smoked for their relaxing and slightly euphoric effect.
Today, it is mainly taken as a dietary supplement, and it is used in many aphrodisiac products.