Native to Mexico, damiana (Turnera diffusa) is an aromatic, flowering herb that belongs to the Turneraceae plant family. Also known as old woman's broom, the leaves of this herb are used for therapeutic and culinary purposes. Damiana leaf is available in various forms, including capsules, liquid extract and herbal tea. Taken singly or in formulation with other herbs, it offers a number of benefits.
For centuries, the Mayan Indians of Mexico have used damiana as an aphrodisiac, prescribing it for both men and women. This herb functions as a sex stimulant that not only boosts libido, but also enhances sexual pleasure. Damiana's ancient reputation as an aphrodisiac is reflected in one of its Latin names--Turnera aphrodisiaca.
The results of a 2009 ethnopharmacological study by Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry support the folk use of damiana as an aphrodisiac. They also point to the herb's possible therapeutic properties in the treatment of sexual dysfunction. This pro-sexual effect is attributed to the mechanism of action of compounds called flavonoids, which are found in damiana leaf.
Damiana is often prescribed as a male sexual remedy for impotence. Also referred to as erectile dysfunction, male impotence is characterized by a consistent inability to achieve or sustain an erection, premature ejaculation, or both. Damiana helps to alleviate these symptoms by increasing blood flow to the genital area during sexual stimulation, facilitating erections.
Damiana is often prescribed by herbalists to correct female frigidity. The herb has a similar mechanism of action in a woman's body, increasing blood circulation in the genital area. This has the effect of enhancing the sensitivity of the clitoris, and intensifying sexual pleasure.
According to Wellness International Network, damiana also helps revive sex drive in perimenopausal and menopausal women by replenishing depleted testosterone. Stimulating testosterone, the hormone behind both men and women's sex drives, helps to restore sexual desire and performance.
In addition to its aphrodisiac properties, damiana also serves as a mild mood enhancer that helps alleviate stress, anxiety and mild depression in both men and women. Its mood-enhancing properties are particularly beneficial when a sexual component is involved.
In addition to its therapeutic benefits, damiana leaf serves as a food-flavoring agent. In Mexico, it is widely used to flavor beverages such as teas and liquors. Damiana is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food use, which lists it as a "generally recognized as safe" herb.