Damiana is a traditional aphrodisiac of the Mayan people in Central America. Damiana continues to be considered valuable as an aphrodisiac and general tonic, and its stimulant, tonic action also makes it a valuable remedy for people with mild depression. Damiana has a strongly aromatic, slightly bitter taste, and the leaves are used in Mexico as a substitute for tea and as a flavoring for liqueurs.
Damiana leaves, drunk in the form of a tea or smoked like tobacco, produced a relaxed state in the user and a kind of subtle high with sexual overtones, somewhat reminiscent of the effects of marijuana. The drug is supposed to be especially effective in women. Damiana liqueurs, produced in Mexico and subtly advertised as aphrodisiacs, contain only minute quantities of the drug. The amount is sufficient, however, to give these beverages a distinctive flavor.
Damiana has a unique ability to relax tension within the body. This herb is a popular tonic for women looking to boost energy, relieve tension, and temper the fluctuations of the monthly cycle. Still others use Damiana for reasons suggested by its botanical name (as a sexual stimulant). This herb has been called the "lover's herb". It has an ancient reputation as an aphrodisiac which supports both male and female sexuality. The action of damiana is to carry oxygen and increase circulation to the genital area. In folk medicine, damiana has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac, a substance that heightens sexual desire and enhances sexual performance. It has also been used to treat conditions a diverse as bedwetting, constipation, depression, and headaches.
Damiana is an excellent strengthening remedy for the nervous system. It has a definite tonic action on the central nervous and the hormonal system. It has also been called an energy tonic and as a useful anti-depressant, Damiana is considered to be aspecific in cases of anxiety and depression where there is a sexual factor. It has also been know to help bedwetting and to stimulate the intestinal tract. Damiana effects the nervous system acting as an anti-depressant, soothing anxiety, nervousness and mild depression, promoting the general feeling of well-being. Damiana also stimulates the circulation of the body consequently raising energy levels to alleviate fatigue and stimulate weight loss. Other known uses for Damiana are as a mild laxative useful for relieving constipation, soothing headaches caused by menstruation, and thinning fluids resulting from asthma, colds and flu. Most research has been done on the essential oil of Damiana, which includes numerous small, fragrant substances called terpenes. As yet, it is unclear if the essential oil is truly the main active fraction of Damiana. The leaves also contain the anti-microbial substance arbutin, some alkaloids, and other potentially important compounds. The common name Damiana includes the species Turnera diffusa, which is used interchangeably with Turnera aphrodisiaca.