Damiana Herb Natural Aphrodisiac: Benefits and Side Effects
Damiana is an herbal shrub native to Central/South America and Mexico. The official name of the herb is Turnera diffusa (although it may also be called Turnera aphrodisiaca). In traditional/alternative medicine, it’s regarded as an aphrodisiac with a variety of reported effects on both the hormonal and reproductive systems.
As a medicinal plant, damiana has been used to treat menstrual disorders, anxiety and diabetes. It reportedly has stimulant, diuretic and laxative effects as well. It is also claimed that damiana has marijuana-like psychoactive effects, especially when smoked.
Research on damiana is scattered and somewhat limited. Nonetheless, there are a few small studies that lend support its reputation as a sexual stimulant. For example, damiana was reported to improve the “copulatory performance of sexually sluggish/impotent rats,” in addition to reducing the “post-ejaculatory interval” in rats that were sexually exhausted.
In-vitro tests also indicate that Turnera diffusa extracts inhibit the aromatase enzyme responsible for testosterone conversion to estrogen and induce smooth muscle relaxation.
If these activities also occur in-vivo, they could contribute to the reported effects on libido and sexual performance.
There are also a few small studies that suggest damiana can relieve anxiety, reduce high blood sugar and contribute to weight loss although—needless to state—far more work needs to be done before damiana can be recommended for any of these conditions.
Commercially, damiana is available in capsules, tablets, tinctures, dried leaves/powders, smoking mixtures and even liqueurs. A tea can be made from damiana leaves by steeping a teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of water for about fifteen minutes.
It may take a few days for the effects of damiana herb, which are usually mild, to be felt. The herb is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), though some side effects have been reported. These include disorientation, dizziness, headache, diarrhea and/or insomnia. Since damiana may induce abortion, it should not be taken during pregnancy.
Several drug interactions are possible with the use of damiana herb. It should not be taken concurrently with progestin drugs, or drugs that reduce blood sugar.
If you’re interested in experimenting with damiana, our recommended online source for this supplement is iHerb.com—you can buy it for less than $10!