- Family Turneraceae
- Turnera diffusa syn. T. diffusa var. aphrodisiaca
- Mexican Damiana
- Spanish: Agüita de Damiana, Yerba del Pastor, Pastorcita
- None noted.
Native to the Gulf of Mexico region, the Carribean, and Namibia in southern Africa, the herb is an aromatic shrub, growing to six feet with smooth, pale green leaves and small bright yellow flowers. It grows wild in these areas, as well as being cultivated, preferring a hot, humid climate. The leaves are harvested when in flower during the summer.
Damiana has been the traditional aphrodisiac of the Mayan people of Central America.
Its leaves are used in Mexico as a substitute for tea and as a flavouring.
The ancient Mexicans used it as a tonic to increase the appetite and as a digestive aid, but today it is used mainly to treat sexual dysfunctions.
Ironically, it is also a popular cure for a hangover, while, at the same time, used to flavour a liquor made in Guadalajara called Damiana.
- mild laxative and diuretic
- reputed aphrodisiac
- arbutin (up to 7%)
- volatile oil (including 10% delta-cadinene and 4% thymol)
- cyanogenic glycoside (tetraphyllin)
- resins (7%)
- tannins (4%)
- Arbutin is converted to hydroquinone, a strong urinary antiseptic also found in other plants, including uva-ursi.
Related species are used as tonics in their respective countries: T. opifera in Brazil and T. ulmifolia in Central America.
Its testosterone principle has long made it an herb for men treating premature ejaculation and impotence. The fresh or dried leaves are beneficial for both sexes as a restorative tonic to the nervous system and reproductive organs.
It is often given for painful or delayed periods, and is especially good for headaches connected to menstruation.
As a urinary antiseptic, it is used in the treatment of infections, including cystitis and urethritis.
Damiana is also a mild laxative useful in the treatment of constipation caused by poor bowel muscle tone.