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Damiana 101: An In-Depth Look at One of History's Natural Remedies

16 jul 2020
7 min
Xavier Francuski
Xavier Francuski

Before the invention of modern medicine and technology, humans relied on the earth for their everyday needs. When someone had a health issue, it was not uncommon for someone to go into their backyard to find the cure for their ailment. A portion of the population is reviving those traditional practices and using nature for medicine. One remedy for a number of ailments is Damiana.

History of Damiana

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Damiana herb, also known as Turnera diffusa, is native to many regions, including Texas, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. It is a small, wood-like shrub of the Passifionaceas family that typically grows small yellow flowers. Damiana plants bloom in these regions during the summer and produce fruits that resemble the taste of figs. They also have a spicy smell similar to chamomile based on their essential oil content. Due to its strong fragrance, Damiana leaves are used to create incense. Although a percentage of the population is unaware of the benefits of Damiana, this plant's use expands beyond its written history.

Damiana is a staple plant in Mexican culture. Los Cabos, a region of Mexico, uses this plant in a number of things, including for their traditional drink, the margarita. In fact, Mexican folklore credits Damiana as one of the ingredients in the original margarita, which was later replaced by triple sec. Mexican liqueur uses dried Damiana leaves and stems.

Forms of Damiana

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There are many ways to use Damiana. For instance, lots of people use this plant in the form of herbal tea. These teas can be found at most herbal supplement stores. Damiana teas are known to have a bitter taste that many would not find appealing. To make this herbal tea taste better, it helps to mix this with other herbal teas, including ginger or blackberry. There are also popular brands that incorporate Damiana in their tea blends for additional nutrients and a more satisfying taste.

Herbal and supplement stores also sell capsules and tinctures, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Because scientists have not developed a universal dosage, be sure to follow the instructions provided on the label.

Because this herbal remedy is not legally regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, purchasing high-end Damiana can be difficult. When searching for a quality, independently-sold Damiana herbal supplement, look for a trusted third-party label seal. Companies including Pharmacopeia, NSF International, and ConsumerLab are reputable sources for purchasing this herb.

Damiana Uses

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Aside from being one of the original margarita ingredients and Pemberton’s French Wine Coca (the alcoholic version of Coca-Cola), Damiana is used for numerous medicinal purposes. Dating back to the 19th century, Damiana is a natural remedy for many health conditions. For more serious conditions, such as chronic illnesses, Damiana may be used in conjunction with medications rather than as a replacement for medication.

Natural Aphrodisiac

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Statistics show that around 43% of women and 31% of men experience sexual dysfunction, with lack of sexual desire being the most common cause. Oftentimes, there are external factors responsible for lower sex drive.

Everyday stresses can impact more than mental health issues. Many mental health conditions, including anxiety, financial and social stress, and depression can have a negative impact on the sex drive. Other factors, like diet, can also have a negative impact on sexual desire and endurance. Severe cases may experience low sexual desire based on a history of physical or sexual abuse. For people who want to raise their sex drive naturally, Damiana may be the answer.

Before the invention of sexual enhancement drugs, Mexicans that needed an increase in sex drive would combine Damiana leaves and sugar to make tea. When Damiana leaves are consumed, they are believed to increase sexual desire as well as stamina in men and women by carrying oxygen to the genital area. For convenience, Damiana leaves can even be purchased in teabag form for a more controlled dosage.

Stomach Ailments

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A past study indicated up to 74% of Americans suffer from problems with their digestive system. Symptoms including diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and bloating are common and while these may appear to be minor, these can be symptoms of a larger issue. Whatever the cause, stomach ailments negatively impact health and quality of life. Damiana acts as a relaxant and stimulates the digestive tract, which helps alleviate stomach pains and conditions.

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Mood Enhancer

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Being that mood and stress can cause further health problems, managing them is key to living a healthy life. Damiana herbs are commonly used to treat depression, lethargy or sluggishness, anxiety, nervousness, and even insomnia.

Because of Damiana’s ability to relieve physical pain like muscle tension and headaches, stress symptoms caused by these conditions are also eliminated. Taking Damiana also helps with concentration and everyday fatigue. This includes PMS and menopause-related pain and stress symptoms.

Help Prevent and Fight Diabetes Symptoms

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Diabetes, a common health condition among Americans, is said to be improved with the use of Damiana. When guarana, Yerba mate, and Damiana are combined, people suffering from obesity and being overweight were able to get down to a healthier weight. Damiana acts as an appetite suppressant. during a study, women were given the previously mentioned combination as well as an insulin-based fiber before eating. The women reported feeling more full and ate significantly fewer calories per meal. By losing weight, the chances of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis go down.

Damiana is also great for lowering blood sugar levels and blood pressure, as well as improving hormonal balance, making it easier to live with diabetic symptoms. Prior to taking this for diabetic symptoms, be sure to consult a healthcare professional for potential risks.


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Asthma, a chronic disease, occurs when the airways become narrow due to swelling and an overproduction of mucus. When the lining swells and the throat muscles begin to squeeze, it becomes difficult to breathe and causes coughing and wheezing. Asthma can be very dangerous depending on the triggers and can be fatal in some cases when left untreated.

Damiana is great for assisting with respiratory issues, including asthma. This herbal supplement helps with respiratory infections, breathing, and throat swelling, which is a major asthma symptom. It's important to understand that Damiana should not be a replacement for asthma medications or an inhaler. Asthma currently does not have a cure, so using Damiana in conjunction with asthma medication is recommended.

In addition to the previously mentioned conditions, Damiana is also believed to remedy bed wetting, bladder and urinary tract problems, and can cause a mild high when inhaled.

Potential Side Effects/Dosage

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Like most natural remedies, it can be tricky to find proper dosage when experimenting with loose herbs. Researchers are still trying to find the perfect amount to ingest. In the meantime, dosing should be based on label instructions. If there aren't specified dosages, estimations should be based on individual characteristics, including height, weight, personal health and age.

To make ingesting Damiana easier, there are tea bags available as well as extracts available for purchase. It is important to be careful when using extracts. While food-related portions are generally safe, ingesting 200 grams of Damiana extract has caused adverse side effects, including convulsions and symptoms similar to contracting rabies or strychnine poisoning.

Since there is very little evidence behind the effects Damiana has on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, it’s best to avoid use altogether. Damiana can also impact blood glucose level control during and after a surgical procedure. If you take Damiana, avoid use for up to two weeks prior to surgery to minimize complication risks.

While there are benefits that help with diabetes symptoms, keep in mind that Damiana can interfere with diabetes prescriptions. Because of this, your healthcare provider may have to modify your diabetes medication. If you have diabetes and choose to use Damiana, make sure you regularly monitor your blood sugar levels and watch for symptoms of hypoglycemia, including difficulty speaking, clumsiness, and seizures. In severe cases, unresolved hypoglycemia symptoms can even be fatal.

Diabetes medications that interfere with Damiana are glimepiride, glyburide, insulin, piglitazone, chlorpropamide, and rosiglitazone. If you take any of these and experience the previously mentioned symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Who Is Damiana Best For?

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For people interested in experimenting with herbal health remedies, Damiana is a great place to start. With its numerous uses, including an aphrodisiac, appetite suppressant, and aid to chronic health condition symptoms, this is a great herb with a rich history.
If you don't want to use this as a means of improving your physical, mental, or sexual health, you can simply enjoy Damiana in a margarita. To be safe, make sure you speak with a physician prior to using this plant to minimize the risk of an overdose, especially if you are not in good health. Damiana misuse can further complicate existing ailments. As the popularity of Damiana grows, it may become a legally-regulated part of the medicinal industry. 

Damiana 101: An In-Depth Look at One of History's Natural Remedies