Also known as Turnera diffusa.
Damiana is a strongly aromatic shrub that grows abundantly in dry, rocky soils such as those found in Mexico, California, Texas, Africa and the West Indies, preferring hot, humid climates.
It is a relatively small shrub that can reach 6.5 feet tall, and has knotty, heavily branched stems. The leaves are small, smooth, and pale green, and the flowers small and yellow. The inconspicuous fruits have a rough shell and three chambers.
Damiana has an aromatic smell, and characteristic, slightly bitter taste. It is believed to have mildly stimulating qualities due to its volatile oil content (up to 1%), which is green in colour and has an odour similar to that of chamomile. In addition to volatile oils, it contains alkaloids, flavonoids, cyanogenic glycosides, tannins, resins and gum. The leaves and stems, gathered during the flowering period, are used medicinally.
Damiana was first used by the ancient Aztec Indians for its special health benefits. It was introduced commercially in the U.S. in 1874, and is widely used today by Latin American cultures.
Damiana is a valuable strengthening remedy for the nervous system, and is of benefit in any debilitated condition of the central nervous system, from anxiety and depression to neuralgia. It is useful for treating asthma, bronchitis, lethargy and sexual disorders, and in particular, has a stimulating and enhancing action on functions related to the male reproductive system, especially where there is sexual inadequacy with a strong psychological or emotional element. The alkaloids are thought to have a testosteronal effect, and although it is considered to be a 'male' herb, it is not contraindicated for women with debilitated conditions.
Other health benefits of damiana include;
Eases depression and anxiety