damiana large Damiana

Damiana | Turnera diffusa

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include damiana, Mexican damiana, Mexican holly, old woman's broom. There is another type of damiana (T.diffusa var.aphrodisica) that is considered to be virtually identical medicinally whilst the variety named T. ulmifolia is similar in appearance but different medicinal properties.

 

Damiana is a small deciduous shrub growing to 1-2 metres high that is native to the southern states of the US, Central and South America  (Mexico in particular) and the Caribbean/West Indies. A member of the Turnaraceae/Passifloraceae family. It has small green serrated leaves (up to 2 cms long) with an aromatic smell similar to chamomile and cloves, small yellow flowers in summer followed by small, sweet smelling fig like fruit. It likes hot climates with plenty of sun and is often seen growing wild in scrub and desert conditions, preferring higher altitudes and mountain slopes.


 

Damiana tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

 

 

 

harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The leaves are the parts used medicinally and the tops of the plant are harvested just before or during flowering. The top branches are usually cut with a sickle (like a good pruning) then stripped of their leaves. The leaves are spread out to dry. Most commercially available damiana is wild harvested in this way.

 

 

Damiana tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 

 

therapeutic actions and uses


therapeutic actions and uses

Best known perhaps as an invigorating sexual tonic for both men and women, it fires up the passion centres and is a stimulating tonic to the nerves and reproductive system. In certain parts of central and south America, even today, bottles of liquor containing damiana are given to newly weds and couples to ensure an amorous start to their married lives. As an aphrodisiac it is capable of increasing sexual desire and performance. It is often regarded as a general all round tonic herb, acting as a prophylactic against disease and is rich in antioxidants, antibacterial substances, phosphorous, chromium, zinc and essential oils.
 
Has a use as a promoter of fertility (men and women) as it is thought to increase both sperm count and egg health.
 
Damiana has an effect that is testosterone like that enhances blood engorgement in the penis, reduces the time needed between ejaculation sand enhances blood flow to the clitoris. For these reasons and with its anti-anxiety qualities, it is used for impotence and erectile dysfunction, loss of libido (seems to be more potent in women than men), frigidity (often associated with a low androgen/testosterone levels in women) and is very useful for men going through the recently coined term 'andropause', the male equivalent of the menopause. It can also help with chronic discharge from the prostate.
 
Rather conveniently, given its reputation as an aphrodisiac, it is said to be useful at containing and lessening the herpes virus.
 
Damiana has the ability to normalise the female menstrual cycle, bringing on delayed or absent menses and ease menstrual cramps. many women report a sense of increased circulation in the lower abdomen when taking damiana. Often suggested as a hormone balancer and nourishing tonic to the reproductive system, particularly for women. There definitely seems to some interaction with hormones as damiana can be helpful with the vaginal dryness and atrophy, hot flushes (often associated with menopause), endometriosis and fibroids.
 
*Difficult to get definitive answers on the hormonal interactions of damina....some studies suggest a progesterone like activity, others an oestrogenic action, others still suggest anti-oestrogenic. It is known however that damiana inhibits the aromatase enzyme, which converts testosterone into estrogens in the body. Aromatase is a key component in the conversion of hormonal precursors into oestrogens within the body. Aromatase is found in the gonads, brain, fat cells, placenta, blood vessels, skin and bone and also in higher concentrations in endometrial and breast cancers. This hints at why some people advocate the use of damiana in oestrogen driven female cancers. This research extract mentions its capability of destroying breast cancer cells. However, some studies show a distinct oestogenic effect and many herbs are capable of both lowering and raising levels in the body, hence its reputation as a 'hormone balancer' for women.
 
Most sources agree it has a testosterone like action however. It can also be of use in boys and men who develop gynaecomastia (enlargement of the breast tissue) and in formulas to help young males through puberty.
Damiana is often used in supplements taken by body builders for its testosterone boosting effects.
 
Damiana has a tonic effect on the nervous system having a stimulating and uplifting effect on depression and mental and physical fatigue yet also capable of inducing a more relaxed attitude, calming an overactive, stressed and cluttered mind. Its medicinal applications include anxiety, depression, hypochondria and other psychosomatic type problems, for the depressive states in bi-polar disorders, also to correct loss of balance, dizziness and giddiness, neuralgia and neuritis, shingles, loss of function in the limbs, to increase stamina and to energise an exhausted body. The fumes from boiling tea are sometimes inhaled to help ease headaches.
 
Lowers blood sugar when taken in its dried form, less so as a tincture.
 
Can be used in formulas against goitres caused by low thyroid function.
 
It is sometimes used in formulas to help raise low blood pressure due to its stimulatory action on the circulation (even though it seems to have a vasodilatory effect - usually associated with herbs that lower high blood pressure).
 
It is often smoked to uplift the spirits, induce a sense of well being and to ensure a good 'vision quest'. It has been used this way by native shamans for many hundreds of years. If the herb is taken before bedtime it can give sexual dreams and dreams that are generally more interesting or of a spiritual nature.
 
Also used traditionally as a urinary antiseptic, for bedwetting and is a diuretic (increases urine production). It is also good against any irritation in the urinary system or kidneys.
 
It can also form part of a formulas for acne and for other outbreaks of spots.
 
Damiana has a bitter component and has been used traditionally for digestive complaints, it stimulates the muscles of the intestines so can act as a mild laxative and to help protect against stomach and peptic ulcers as shown here.
 
Asthma and breathing difficulties, coughs and over secretion of mucous as it soothes irritated mucous membranes.
 
Damiana is also combined with other herbs (guarana and yerba mate) to facilitate weight loss, a study showing it promotes thermogenic (stimulates metabolism, producing heat) activity and also acts as an appetite suppressant.
 
Here is an informative link to the worldwide medicinal uses of damiana.

 

This link details the variety of uses damiana has as a mild mind altering herb.

 

dosage and cautions


dosage and cautions

*Do not use during pregnancy.

* Monitor your blood sugar levels closely if you are diabetic and taking damiana due to its blood sugar lowering effects.

*Damiana is not something I would personally take long term(maybe 6 weeks maximum at any given time), use it as and when need and take frequent breaks.

* Damiana may not be suitable for those of a hyper-excited nervous disposition.

 

Dried herb in tea form: 1 teaspoon of dried herb per cup, half to 1 cup up to 3 times daily.

Tincture: 1-2ml (can go up to 5 ml), up to 3 times daily.

 

Damiana is a part of Dr Shook's nervine tonic which comprises 50g each (2oz) of skullcap, vervain and damiana dried herbs.

 

Children

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.

 

 


 

 

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