Damiana Health Benefits
Damiana health benefits may include the potential to improve libido and erectile dysfunction, plus anti-bacterial properties. Folk herbalists have long used damiana as an aphrodisiac, anti-cough agent, and diuretic, and people in Mexico have found the herb helpful in treating gastrointestinal problems.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa, T. aphrodisiaca) is a shrub native to South and Central America. It is both a food flavoring (classified as GRAS [generally recognized as safe] on the Food and Drug Administration’s [FDA] list) and a medicinal herb. Damiana extract appears to have some antibacterial activity against a wide range of bacteria. That’s why among damiana health benefits is an ability to help in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems. (Hernandez 2003)
Claims that damiana health benefits include a role as a sexual stimulant and a treatment for erectile dysfunction are less clear. So far, scientific evidence has been limited to rat studies. In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers found that damiana was able to improve the ability of sexually exhausted male rats to ejaculate. (Estrada-Reyes 2009) In the same study, the investigators identified the main compounds in damiana—caffeine, arbutine, and flavonoids. The scientists suggested that the flavonoids may be responsible for the improvement in sexual function. How this potential benefit translates to men, however, has not been shown.
How to Use Damiana
If you choose to take damiana, follow dosage directions on the package or consult your healthcare provider. Because damiana may affect blood sugar levels, you should be cautious about using this herb if you have diabetes. Few side effects have been reported, including diarrhea, headache, mood changes, insomnia, and hallucinations. Damiana contains a low level of cyanide-like compounds. Therefore, high doses may be dangerous. (Natural Standard)
Estrada-Reyes R et al. Turnera diffusa Wild (Turneraceae) recovers sexual behavior in sexually exhausted males. J Ethnopharmacol 2009 Jun 25; 123(3): 423-29
Hernandez T et al. Ethnobotany and antibacterial activity of some plants used in traditional medicine of Zapotitlan de las Salinas, Puebla (Mexico). J Ethnopharmacol 2003; 88(2-3): 181-88
Natural Standard for information on damiana health benefits: http://www.naturalstandard.com/index-abstract.asp?create-