As a member of the Passifloraceae family, Tunera Diffusa or Damiana, is a small aromatic shrub. Native to the southern regions of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean Islands, the indigenous peoples of these lands have been using the plant for medicinal purposes since the time of exploration and colonization.
In historical recordings, the Damiana leaves were often brewed into tea to be used as an aphrodisiac. The Latin American countries that grew Damiana have employed the plant for general holistic uses.
Benefits of Damiana
Damiana was historically used as an aphrodisiac or libido enhancer in women. Today, the plant is still used to enhance the female, and sometimes male, libido. With tonic and stimulant properties, the plants leaves contain numerous compounds, including tannins, alpha and beta pinene, calamene, and flavonoids.
In Mexico, Damiana’s extract is also often used as a substitute for the triple sec liqueur in the well-known margarita cocktail. Scientific studies have not been completed using human testing on the overall effectiveness of the plant, though laboratory studies on rodents have illustrated and reinforced the folklore related to libido and aphrodisiac properties.
Damiana is also used internally to treat the following:
- Nervous exhaustion
- Premature ejaculation
- Urinary infections
- Prostate complaints
- Painful menstruation
- Vaginal discharge
- Menopausal problems
- Poor appetite
When using Damiana to create herbal and holistic remedies, only the leaves of the plant are utilized. The leaf if ground into a powder and often sold in capsule form. Some stores and pharmacies may sell Damiana in the form of an extract, which is more highly concentrated than the powder.
More commonly, in Latin America the Damiana leaves are brewed into a tonic similar to tea. The tea may have a bitter taste that is unpleasant. Users have found that combining Damiana with a sweeter herb while brewing makes the tea more palatable.
Pregnant women should not take Damiana in any form, as it may cause fatal harm to the unborn child.