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 Mexico and parts of Texas, the Caribbean, and southern Africa.
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Damiana has traditionally been used to treat people with depression.
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Damiana is a traditional herbal treatment for men with erectile dysfunction.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a traditional herbal treatment for men with ED. However, no modern clinical trials have confirmed its effectiveness.
Most research has been done on the volatile oil of damiana, which includes numerous small, fragrant substances called terpenes.3 As yet, it is unclear if the volatile oil is truly the main active constituent of damiana. Damiana extracts have been shown, in a test tube, to weakly bind to progesterone receptors.4 Thus, damiana may be a potentially useful herb for some female health problems. However, no human studies have investigated this possibility and it is not a primary traditional use.
To make a tea, add 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water to 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) of dried leaves and allow to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. People can drink three cups (750 ml) per day. To use in tincture form, take 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (2–3 ml) three times daily. Tablets or capsules (400–800 mg three times per day) may also be used. Damiana is commonly used in herbal combinations. However, the authors of the German Commission E monographs do not feel that traditional use of this herb is justified by modern research.5
The leaves have a minor laxative effect and may cause loosening of the stools at higher amounts. Until more is known about damiana’s effects on the female hormonal system, it should be avoided during pregnancy.6
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. Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1998;217:369–78.
5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 325–6.
6. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine. Middlesex, UK: Viking Arkana, 1991, 516–7.
Last Review: 05-01-2013
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