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aphrodisiaca (WILLD.)

I. Plant Name

Official botanical: Turnera
aphrodisiaca (WILLD.)

Official common: Damiana

Other: Damiana, damiane,  oreganillo, the bourrique, Mexican damiana, Mexican holly, damiana de Guerrero

Related species: T. opifera and T. ulminifolia

Parts used: Leaves

Name derived and translation:  Untamed

II. Botanical

A small  shrub; leaves smooth and pale green on upper side, underneath glabrous, with a  few hairs on the ribs, ovolanceolate, shortly petiolate with two small glands
at base; flowers yellow, rising singly from axils of the leaves, capsule
one-celled splitting into three pieces; smell aromatic, taste characteristic,
bitterish, aromatic and resinous.

III.  Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Plantae

Subkingdom: Tracheobionta

Superdivision: Spermatophyta

Division: Magnoliophyta

Class: Magnoliopsida

Subclass: Dilleniidae

Order: Violales

Family: Turneraceae

Genus: Turnera L.

Species: Turnera diffusa Willd. Ex Schult.

Variety: Turnera diffusa Willd. Ex Schult. var. aphrodisiaca  (G.H Ward) Urb.

IV. Plant Herstory:

The Europeans were the first to discover Damiana’s medicinal
properties around the 16th and 17th century.  Damiana was discovered to the Europeans while  roaming in what is now the area of Baja, California- which back then was Mexico.  However, it wasn’t introduced, to America until the late 19th
century in the year 1874, by Dr. F. O. St. Clair.

V.  Ethnobotony:

Damiana was the
favorite sex herb of the Aztecs and Mayans and played a part in their religious
ceremonies.  It has been used by breeders to improve the chances of conception in high-strung livestock.

VI.  Cultivation and Propagation:

Damiana grows wild in the subtropical regions of the
Americas and Africa, specifically the Gulf of Mexico, southern California,
northern Caribbean Islands and Namibia.  Damiana  prefers a hot, humid climate.  The leaves  are harvested when the herb is in flower in the summer.  Damian can be planted outdoors in the West  and Southwest after the early spring or late winter- after the last frost has  ended.  Damian is propagated by seeds and
cuttings.  She is able to grow in both  rich and sandy soil as long as there is good drainage in whatever soil she may  be planted in.  Damiana needs to grow in
an area that gets about 8 to 10 hours a day of sun.  (Damiana is very hardy and if damaged by the  frost she may still be able to survive the winter freeze although everything  above ground may die, her roots may still survive).

VII.  Wild crafting and domesticated harvest:
The leaves and tops are harvested while the plant is in flower. As some of the
active principle is volatile, the tops are preferably dried in the shade,
without the application of heat.

VIII.  Preparation Methods: 

Dried: Leaf- tincture, Infusion, Caps

The dose of the  fluid extract is from 1/2 fluid drachm to 1/2 fluid ounce; specific damiana, 5 to 60 drops.

IX.  Pharmacognosy

Arbutin (up to 7%); Volatile oil (about .5%), containing
delta-cadinene (10%) and Thymol (4%); Cyanogenic glycoside (tetraphyllin);
Resin; Gums

X.  Properties and Actions:

Mild purgative, diuretic, tonic, acting directly on the
reproductive organs, stimulant, hypochondriastic, aphrodisiae, nervine;

XI.  Indications:

a. Nervous system- restores and supports the nervous system
in either with or without anxiety. Assists in nervous debility.

b. Depression- from mild to moderate along with nervous
exhaustion supports life-enhancing and stimulating action on the body and
mind.  Supports harmonious feelings that
are particularly worse in the PM hours.

c. Sexual disfunction- helpful in prevention of premature
ejaculation and impotence, decreasing anxiety associated with sex in
women.  Promotes balance to achieve
healthy sexual activity.

d. Painful/ delayed Menstrual Cycles- Aids in the prevention
of headaches associated with PMS; Amenorrhea in teen-aged girls; inflammation /
irritation of the to gonads

e. Urinary infections- supports urinary tract, and assists
in healing urinary infections such as cystitis and urethritis.

f. Constipation-due to poor bowel muscle tone.

XII:  Administration and dosage strategies: 

Traditional dose for a 150-lb Adult:

Tincuture: 30-50 drops with water, tid to qid

Standard Infusion: 4-6 fl oz, qd to bid

Caps : 800 mg, bid to qid. Take 5 ml. 30 minutes before sex
for sexual dysfunction / impotency

XIII:  Side effects

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Lower the level of blood sugar
  • Anemia


  •  Pregnancy; chronic Loose Stools. Damiana
    has demonstrated mild hypoglycemic effects in animals. Persons with
    diabetes and hypoglycemia should use this plant with caution, as blood
    sugar levels should be monitored accordingly for this possible effect.
  • Damiana has a traditional use as an abortive and is contraindicated during


XV:  Toxicity and Regulatory Status:

AHPA regulatory status: Class One.  Safe to consume when used appropriately.

Long History of safe use.

No known drug/ herb interactions.

XVI:  Personal
Commentary:  Warming; Drying, Indians in
Northern Mexico used Damiana for bedwetting in children to strengthen their
nervous system so that they could remain dry throughout the night as well as
for nervous exhaustion and stomach aches.
Works by sending blood to the genital area.  Must be used several weeks before changes are  noticed.  It also clears kidneys, helps
digestion, relieves constipation and benefits lung problem and coughs.  Works well with Saw Palmetto Berry and  ginseng.  A blood purifier with many of
the same properties as parsley.  Often
used in reconciliation spells along with coriander seed in a conjure bag with a
personal effect of yours and your lovers to draw a person back to you along
with serving it to the one you desire.  Latin
translation- untamed, French translation- to be tamed, WOW!  May reduce the absorption of Iron.  In Mexico, Damiana is fermented into an
alcohol and one manufacturer packages it in bottles in the shape of pregnant
women.  Damiana is on the FDA’s ‘Gras’
list and is also used to flavor food.  Applopapus
discoideos is often sold and passed off as Damiana and is AKA False Damiana.  Damiana gives your body calcium and zinc.
This can make iron absorption from your food a bit difficult. You should use
iron supplements or foods rich in iron different times with damiana. Taking
them together will make your iron intake futile. This can lead to anemia and

Resources from
Botanical.com, USDA.gov; herbnet.com; 300 Herbs, Matthew Alps; http://www.bashanfoundation.org/gmaweb/pdfs/damiana.pdf;
and Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Andrew Chevallier; Herbs of
Commerce, Michael McGuffin, John D. Kartesz, Albert Y. Leung, Arthur O. Tucker,
Ph.D; and Botanical Safety Book