Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is reported to be an aphrodisiac, stimulant, mood elevator, and “tonic,” and has been in use in the United States since 1874. Despite a paucity of research, it has reported testosterogenic activity, which may account for its traditional use by the Mayan people of Central America for enhancing sexual function in men and women.
Turnera diffusa, known as damiana, is a shrub native to southwestern Texas in the United States, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. It belongs to the family Passifloraceae.
Damiana is a relatively small shrub that produces small, aromatic flowers. It blossoms in early to late summer and is followed by fruits that taste similar to figs. The shrub is said to have a strong spice-like odor somewhat like chamomile, due to the essential oils present in the plant. The leaves have traditionally been made into a tea and an incense which was used by native people of Central and South America for its relaxing effects. Spanish missionaries first recorded that the Mexican Indians drank Damiana tea mixed with sugar for use as an aphrodisiac.
Damiana has long been claimed to have a stimulating effect on libido, and its use as an aphrodisiac has continued into modern times. More recently, some corroborating scientific evidence in support of its long history of use has emerged. Several animal testing studies have shown evidence of increased sexual activity in rats of both sexes. Damiana has been shown to be particularly stimulating for sexually exhausted or impotent male ratsas well as generally increased sexual activity in rats of both sexes. It has also been shown that damiana may function as an aromatase inhibitor, which has been suggested as a possible method of action for its reputed effects.
Damiana might be effective as an anxiolytic.
Damiana is an ingredient in a traditional Mexican liqueur, which is sometimes used in lieu of Triple Sec in margaritas. Mexican folklore claims that it was used in the “original” margarita. The damiana margarita is popular in the Los Cabos region of Mexico.
Damiana was included in several 19th century patent medicines, such as Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. The leaves were omitted from that product’s non-alcoholic counterpart, Coca-Cola.
Damiana contains damianin; tetraphyllin B; gonzalitosin I; arbutin; tricosan-2-one; p-cymene; β-sitosterol; 1,8-cineole; apigenin; α-pinene; β-carotene;β-pinene; eucalyptol; tannins; thymol; and hexacosanol.
As of 2006, damiana’s constituents have not been identified for their effects attributed to the whole herb. Damiana’s anxiolytic properties might be due to apigenin.
In the state of Louisiana, Damiana is considered a “prohibited plant” along with 39 other plants by Louisiana State Act 159, effective 8 August 2005. Any combination of any of the parts, leaves, stems, stalks, seeds, materials, compounds, salts, derivatives, mixtures, preparations, or any resin extracted from any part of the plant is illegal to possess or distribute for human consumption in the state of Louisiana. This was due in part to an increase in the number of synthetic cannabis overdoses from a variety of chemically-infused plant material formulations, most of which contained Damiana as a primary ingredient.
A product known as “Black Mamba”, labelled as containing “100% Damiana”, has been on sale in the UK; ill effects from its use have been reported. MP Graham Jones has called for the substance to be made illegal. “Black Mamba” is a combination of damiana and various synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, including JWH-018. Synthetic cannabis has caused adverse side effects in a number of users. Damiana is considered safe when consumed in its natural form.
During Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday the 7th of March 2012 MP Nadhim Zahawi asked for action to be taken in relation to “Black Mamba”, the Prime Minister responded:
- “We are determined to stamp out these so-called legal highs. The Home Office is aware of this particular drug. We now have the drugs early warning system which brings these things to our attention, but as he says, a decision needs swiftly to be made and I will make sure that happens.” 
Black Mamba is now illegal in the UK.
Turnera diffusa is the botanical name of the plant more commonly known as damiana. The Turnera genus is made up of over 10 species, which are in turn part of the Turneraceae family. The Turneraceae family itself is made up of over 100 species and 10 genera.
The plant has also been referred to as Turnera aphrodisiac or Turnera diffusa var. aphrodisiaca. These references to aphrodisiac in the name, are based on the fact that Turnera diffusa has a long history of being used as an aphrodisiac.
When taken as a tea or smoked, the leaves are said to act upon the reproductive organs of both sexes. With men it is consumed to treat impotence, and with women it is consumed to treat frigidity. The leaves have also been used as a flavoring in liqueurs, a substitute for tea, and for other medical, recreational, or spiritual purposes.
Scientific Classification Of Turnera diffusa
Species: Turnera diffusa
Turnera diffusa is thought to have originated in Central America. It can now be found growing wild in Central America, Mexico, South America, West Indies, and parts of the south-western USA. Plants require a hot climate and they can be found in their greatest concentrations in Baja California and Northern Mexico.
Turnera diffusa grows into a small perennial (lives more than two years) shrub that can reach a height of 3-6 feet tall. The leaves have an aroma similar to that of lemon. The stems are upright with small yellow flowers that produce sweet smelling fruit.
A drink made with damiana has been used in central Mexico for thousands of years as an aphrodisiac, and for centuries, the spiritual and mystical application of damiana have long been recorded in Central American folk lore.
The Mayan Indians utilized the leaves of the Turnera diffusa plant by making them into a drink and adding sugar to sweeten it. Then it was drunk for its power to enhance lovemaking. It was also consumed in some Latin American countries as a dietary supplement.
For medical purposes, in addition to being utilized as an aphrodisiac and for treating conditions related to the reproductive organs, Turnera diffusa has been used as an anti depressant, cough suppressant, diuretic, laxative, and as a tonic.
Other medical applications include being used to treat asthma, bronchitis, neurosis, and gastrointestinal problems such as dysentery. It can also relieve or reduce headaches.
In Germany, damiana is consumed mainly to relieve excess mental activity and other nervous disorders. In the UK, the application of damiana has been primarily focused on the sexual factors, but it has also been used to treat constipation, depression, and dyspepsia (disturbed digestion).
Damiana can provide antibacterial benefit when applied to the body or taken internally. Scientific testing has shown that damiana can be effective with certain weight loss treatments, and has been beneficial in reducing blood sugar.
How To Use Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
The most common way of ingesting damiana as an aphrodisiac or for medical purposes is to make it into a tea and drink it. To make damiana tea, take 2 grams of dry plant material and crush it into a powder. Add the powder to some water and heat at sub-boiling temperatures for 15-30 minutes.
When ready, separate the plant material from the water with a strainer (or something that will do the same job), then drink the water. You can increase the amount of damiana up to 3 or 4 grams when making tea, but larger doses may cause headaches and/or stomach aches.
Instead of mixing damiana with other herbs, some people prefer to take damiana (by itself) in high dosages to experience a sense of euphoria. The recreational uses of damiana have been noted in cultures that routinely soak the leaves in warm water and drink it as a tea.
For maximum psychoactive effect, rather than ingest large amounts of damiana by itself, drink some damiana tea. After drinking the tea, wait for 30-60 minutes and smoke a mixture of 1/4 gram marijuana and 1/4 gram damiana. Most people feel a stronger marijuana stone with physically energetic effects.
Marijuana users that consume the substance daily may go through withdrawl when deprived of herb. Damiana tea can ease the discomfort of marijuana withdrawl for some people. The tea is especially good before bed, it can make falling asleep easier when marijuana isn’t available.
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