Tell me about...
Damiana (turnera diffusa)
What is damiana?
Damiana is indigenous to Central America and Mexico. It grows
in hot, humid climates such as those found in Texas, the Caribbean
and southern Africa. The plant can reach a height of approximately
two feet, with smooth, green leaves, yellow flowers and a
many-seeded, globular fruit that has a resinous coating. The
leaves are harvested during the flowering season and are used
Why do we need damiana? What is
it used for?
Since ancient times, many cultures have used damiana as
an aphrodisiac, or to treat sexual disorders like erectile
dysfunction and low libido. It is also used for conditions
such as asthma and bronchitis, and has been promoted as a
substance that induces euphoria naturally.
The active ingredient in damiana is its volatile oil, which
contains tannins, resins, and small, fragrant substances called
terpenes. Test-tube studies have shown that damiana extracts
bind to progesterone receptors, which has led to the belief
that it may be useful for some female health problems. However,
no tests have been conducted on humans.
How much damiana should I take?
Damiana is commonly used in herbal preparations. As a standalone
product, however, many practitioners recommend a cup of damiana
tea, which is made by adding one cup of boiling water to 1/2
teaspoon of dried leaves and letting the mixture steep for
10-15 minutes. People may take three cups per day, or damiana
tablets or capsules (400-800 mg) three times per day.
What forms of damiana are available?
In addition to dried damiana leaves, tablet, capsule and
tincture forms are available at many health food stores and
What can happen if I take too much
damiana? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Due to a lack of research, the German Commission E does not
recommend damiana for its traditional uses. The leaves have
a minor laxative effect and may cause loose stools or diarrhea
at higher amounts. It may also interfere with iron absorption.
Damiana should not be taken by women who are pregnant or lactating.
At present, there are no well-known drug interactions associated
with damiana. As always, make sure to consult with a qualified
health care provider before taking damiana or any other herbal
product or dietary supplement.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- 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, 3256.
- Bradley PR (ed). British Herbal Compendium,
vol 1. Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine
Association, 1992, 712.
- Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C (eds.)
PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics
Company, 2000, p. 244.
- Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential
Book of Herbal Medicine. Middlesex, UK: Viking Arkana,
- Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen
and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices.
Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1998;217:36978.