Damiana is an herbal supplement that is derived from a flowering bush that is indigenous to Central America, South America and Mexico. The bush has small yellow flowers that bloom from late spring through the summer. The bush then has red berries that follow the flowering stage. Damiana that is used for medicinal purposes is obtained from the leaves of the bush. The leaves are harvested after the flowering stage is complete.
The first records that can be found concerning the use of Damiana in history come from the Mayan culture. It is reported that they used the leaves and steeped them into a tea. The tea was then drunk in order to improve their sexual libido. Some stated that it may well have been used as an aphrodisiac. They also drank Damiana for the euphoric feeling that it gave them.
Later records were found in which a Spanish Missionary reported that the Mexican natives made a tea of Damiana and took it. They believed that it was able to increase their enjoyment when making love. Records over the years of history can be found stating that Damiana was used to improve sexual activity, decrease anxiety and improve symptoms of depression. It has also been used as a general tonic and diuretic and as a cough suppressant.
Damiana is being used today in Europe for several purposes. In Germany it is being used to help reduce anxiety. They also drink the tea to help problems with hormonal imbalance and as a tonic for the central nervous system. Many people in Holland are using this herb for its sexual enhancing abilities. They also believe that this herb has a positive effect on the reproductive system. In the United Kingdom Damiana is used for anxiety related to sexual problems, symptoms of depression, constipation and a nervous stomach.
Several clinical trials have been done to evaluate the efficacy of Damiana both in is role of improving sexual function and in other medicinal roles. In 1999 a study was done on rats. One group was normal sexually, the other group was impotent. The results were that Damiana had no effect on the rats that had a normal sexual drive however the rats that were impotent did show an improvement in their ability to achieve an erection and be able to ejaculate. Those rats were noted to be more sexually active after being given Damiana as well.
Damiana has also been used in combination with other herbs and this has received a patent in 1999 in which the preparation was designed to help reduce the effects of PMS. The herbal preparation was designed to relieve headaches, anxiety, mood swings and exhaustion just prior to and during menstruation.
Another interesting clinical trial was performed in Mexico in the mid 1980’s. It was done to evaluate the ability of Damiana to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood in diabetics. Scientists had noted in a previous study that rats showed a hypoglycemic tendency after being given Damiana. The herbal preparation was given to diabetic mice and their reaction was noted. The study did show that Damiana had a hypoglycemic effect on the rats who were diabetic. A subsequent study done in Mexico using an infusion of Damiana on diabetic rats confirmed these reports. However a study done in 2002 showed that an ethanol infusion of Damiana had no effect on rats at that time who were diabetic. In this light of conflicting reports more research needs to be done before a final recommendation can be made on Damiana’s effect on diabetes.
Damiana is being used today in both capsule, tablet and infused as a tea. It is mainly used today as an aphrodisiac or to reduce the effects of anxiety due to sexual issues. It can be used to help men who have issues with erectile dysfunction. It can also be used to balance moods that are due to central nervous system excitability. Damiana is recommended for problems with depression, anxiety and stress. It can also be used to help balance hormone levels as well as help combat the symptoms of hormonal imbalance.