Damiana, scientifically known as Turnera diffusa is a shrub that produces aromatic flowers and is well known for its aphrodisiac properties. Although there is no scientific evidence to prove the aphrodisiac effects of damiana, it is still promoted as a sexual stimulant. It is a native to Central America, southwestern Texas, South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It contains essential oils and hence produces a spice like aroma. Damiana has many medicinal properties and is used for the treatment of many conditions like anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, headache, and prostate problems. It is available in various forms such as liquid extract, capsule and tea form.
Chemical composition of Damiana
Damiana is rich in several active elements that accounts for its various medicinal and therapeutic effects. The leaves contain volatile oils that are comprised of over 20 components. The leaves also contain resin, tannins, flavonoids, beta-sitosterol, damianin, and arbutin.
Health Benefits of Damiana
The complex chemical composition of damiana is believed to be the reason why it is effective as a remedy for many health conditions.
Damiana has antioxidant properties
Damiana tea is high in antioxidants and is considered to be a revitalizing and rejuvenating drink. These antioxidants help in fighting off free radicals that are responsible for causing oxidation stress to cells leading to their damage. Oxidation stress can is responsible for many health problems and diseases including cancer. So by neutralizing the effects of the free radicals, damiana may be effective in reducing your risks of cancer and also in slowing down the aging process. Damiana has been used in cosmetics as a cream for reducing wrinkles and other signs related to aging.
Damiana has anti-microbial properties
Damiana has powerful antibacterial and anti-viral properties and is therefore is effective in treating microbial infections and diseases. Damiana extract has been found to exhibit antibacterial effects against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. This property is useful in treating gastrointestinal disorders.
Damiana encourages weight loss
Damiana is found to promote cleansing and detoxification. Studies reveal that when this plant is combined with yerba mate and guarana, it produced thermogenic effects that lead to the suppression of appetite. People who were overweight were given this plant combination in the capsule form for a period of 45 days. The results showed that this capsule helped in delaying gastric emptying significantly, reduced the time in which the participants perceived the feeling of gastric fullness and above all induced considerable weight loss.
Aphrodisiac properties of damiana
The leaves of damiana have long been known to have amazing aphrodisiac properties. The ancient people of Central America and Mexico have used these leaves for not only improving their libido but also for boosting their overall health. Although the precise elements responsible for the aphrodisiacal effects of Damiana have not been isolated, several studies reveal that this plant works by slowing down the functioning of the digestive tract and transporting oxygen to the sexual organs. This is helpful for men to attain sexual erection more easily and to maintain it for longer periods of time. Another study suggests that the use of Damiana increases the sensitivity in the erotic parts of the body, which in turn is helpful for the person to obtain better sexual pleasure. Many sexual dysfunctions are mainly caused by factors such as stress, anxiety and depression. Since damiana is effective in treating these problems and in enhancing the mood of an individual, it is beneficial in treating many of the issues that often lead to sexual disorders like reduced sexual desire. Apart from these features, this plant also functions as a sexual stimulant and is beneficial in increasing stamina.
Damiana as a tonic for the female reproductive system
The “New Life Journal” states that the leaf extracts of Damiana can function as a powerful tonic for the female reproductive system. It promotes fertility by energizing and supporting the organs of reproduction. Damiana may be helpful in promoting hormone balance and in strengthening the reproductive organs in women. It is also considered to promote the development of healthy ovum in women. During menopause, the use of this herb can help in relieving the mood swings and other related problems such as night sweats, hot flashes, and headaches. Damiana is also used as an effective remedy for menstrual related disorders, such as headaches, stomach cramps, painful menstruation and irregular menstrual periods.
Damiana improves digestion
Another important health benefit of damiana is that it helps in relieving many digestive problems. The use of damiana leaves has been found to be useful in treating irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. Since it slows down the digestive process, it is effective in treating dyspepsia. Damiana may also help in reducing the chances of fermentation in the stomach and thus allow the better absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.
Damaina for diabetes
Some researchers believe that the leaf extracts of Damiana are helpful in the treatment of diabetes. Mexicans scientists have documented the blood sugar lowering (hypoglycemic) properties of this herb. Since it is effective in reducing the levels of glucose in the blood, Damiana can be considered as a beneficial remedy for people suffering from Type-2 diabetes.
Damiana for the nervous system
Damiana is believed to contain chemical compounds that have a positive effect on the brain and nervous system. It is effective as a natural anti-depressant and helps in improving the mood of a person and is also useful in the treatment of anxiety, nervousness, and depression. It has also been found that damiana possess a mild narcotic effect and it may be capable of causing a euphoric effect that can last for about an hour. When combined with passion flower, Damiana is found to exhibit synergistic properties that produces a tremendously soothing and relaxing effect on an individual.
Damiana has diuretic properties
Damiana is found to have diuretic properties that helps in increasing the frequency of urination, which in turn promotes flushing out of wastes and toxic substances. This property makes it an effective remedy for preventing urinary tract infections and kidney stones. By preventing water retention, damiana also contributes to loss of body weight and lowering high blood pressure.
Damiana for urinary infections
In addition to being a diuretic, Damiana also possess urinary antiseptic action and hence is very beneficial in the treatment of urinary infections, such as urethritis and cystitis. This antiseptic effect of the herb can be mainly attributed to one of the chemical compounds found in damiana known as arbutin. This compound is converted into hydroquinone in the urinary tract, which has strong urinary antiseptic properties.
Damiana for treating asthma
Damiana has been found to be effective in treating asthma and other respiratory ailments. Asthma is a disease that has no cure, though its symptoms can be controlled. Damiana contains an essential volatile oil that is composed of several bioactive components such as arbutin, cineolo, cimolo, pinene, damianin, cardiac glycosides, resins and tannin. Although the anti-asthmatic property of these elements has not been scientifically established, they are thought to be the contributing factors to this herb’s ability to relieve the symptoms of asthma.
Damiana as a remedy for respiratory problems
The cyanogenic glycosides present in Damiana are helpful in soothing congestion and in providing relief from dry cough. It is also considered to calm the sensory nerves that are responsible for inhibiting the cough reflex. Drinking damiana tea is helpful in soothing infected or inflamed air passages and in relieving congestion. Damiana also contains small amounts of tannin that helps in soothing inflamed respiratory tracts, which in turn makes breathing easier. Moreover, the essential oil in damiana contains thymol, which acts as a mild decongestant and expectorant.
Ways to use damiana
The benefits of damiana can be obtained in many ways. Damiana comes in several forms including extracts, dried leaves, liquors, and capsules. In addition to these forms people also use it in other ways as described below:
As tea or infusion
The leaves of the Damiana plant are often dried and used to make tea, which is a very healthy and refreshing drink. Damiana tea is the most common method of using this herb.
As supplements and prepared tincture
Damiana is available in the form of an herbal supplement and tincture. The tincture can be added to drinks and consumed.
As a smoking blend
The dried leaves of Damaina or its powder are available as a smoking blend. It is often used by people as a legal substitute for marijuana.
Modern medicine is constantly evolving to find new treatments and cures for many diseases and also to improve the overall well being of human beings. The contribution of nature in this regard cannot be overlooked. Considering the growing cost of healthcare, the less expensive and natural herbal remedies often come to the rescue of many people. Damiana herb is one such gift of nature that can be used for the betterment of health as well as to treat and prevent many diseases. If more research and scientific evidence regarding the medicinal properties of damiana becomes available, it surely will emerge as an effective and popular remedy for many health problems.Image Credits: Wikimedia - H Zell