Botanical synonyms: Turnera aphrodisiaca, Damiana aphrodisiaca, Turnera microphyllia
Part used: Herb. Herbal action: aphrodisiac, antidepressant, thymoleptic, stomachic, aperient, astringent, expectorant
Indications: Depression, anxiety, impotence, frigidity, infertility, nervous dyspepsia, atonic constipation, bronchial congestion.
Contraindications and cautions: Concern has been voiced other the presence of the cyanogenetic glycoside tetraphyllin in Damiana, and thus it should probably not be used during pregnancy and lactation.
Medicinal uses: Although Damiana has venerable history of use as an aphrodisiac, how it achieves this effect is not only poorly understood, but has been a subject of debate among western-trained herbalists. It seems reasonable to suggest that this effect is mediated by Damiana’s established antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. Thus Damiana may be more akin to a ‘mood-enhancer’ such as marijuana, rather than the rejuvenating aphrodisiac used in China and India (e.g. Panax ginseng, Withania somnifera). In the treatment of genitourinary disorders however, its efficacy is not in dispute, and it’s worth mention for use in chronic cystic and renal catarrh, where it helps to relieve irritation of the urinary mucous membranes. As a bitter tonic Damiana improves digestion, and may help constipation, especially in cases where fear and anxiety prevail. In respiratory disorders, Damiana is used to ameliorate irritation and cough, and as an astringent, to check hypersecretionfrom the respiratory mucosa.