Suffering from mild depression, low mood…and possibly a lack of interest in the bedroom too? If so, Damiana, a natural herb, may be just what you need.
From an energetic perspective, Damiana can be considered a “yang” herb – able to bring heat, dynamism and vitality to conditions characterised by stagnancy, lethargy, weakness, sadness and fear.
Biochemically, it has a testosterone-like effect, and has been used to treat low libido in both men and women, mild depression and anxiety, genito-urinary issues, fatigue and poor concentration.
Damiana (turnera diffusa) is native to southern US, Mexico and Central and South America, and has a fascinating history. Historical records show that the Mayans of southern Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala used the herb for “giddiness” and issues with balance – perhaps due to its ability to stimulate blood flow to the brain.
The Aztecs in Mexico used the herb mainly for its libido enhancing qualities (and legend has it that it was once banned at ceremonies due to its aphrodisiac effects getting out of hand!) and also as a digestive tonic and laxative.
In recent times it was used as a flavouring in Mexican liquors, and in the 19th century it became fashionable among the intellectual elite in the form of a popular beverage called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. Touted as a panacea for nerve exhaustion and sexual troubles (and created by the same pharmacist who invented coca cola), the drink contained damiana, French wine, coca leaf and cola nut, and was said to be enjoyed by writers Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Eventually, as new pharmaceutical drugs slowly began replacing traditional herbal medicines, damiana sank into obscurity in the developed world at least, until the hippy movement revived its popularity in the alternative health scene in the 1960s.
SYNERGY WITH OTHER HERBS
While damiana can certainly be used on its own as a tea of the dried leaves, or in capsule or tincture form, some conditions may benefit more from a formula of several herbs due to their powerful synergistic effects.
For example, I have often used damiana in menopausal patients who are suffering from a variety of hormonal symptoms along with low libido and mild depression. A formula containing damiana along with hormone-balancing herbs such as black cohosh and red clover as well as herbs to support the liver and adrenal glands has worked well.
For cases of low libido, it, of course, depends on the underlying drivers unique to the individual, but for many people, adrenal fatigue can be the source of the issue. Combining damiana with restorative herbs for the nervous system along with adrenal tonics such as Rhodiola, Siberian ginseng and Withania can be very helpful.
For depression, fatigue and poor concentration, it could combine well with skullcap, Brahmi. rosemary and Gotu Kola.
And if it’s time to start – or add to – the family, it could also be used in a fertility formula for both men and women in conjunction with Tribulus and maca, as well as zinc supplementation.
So now I’d love to hear from you – have you tried damiana before? Let us know in the comments below your experience with this herb…