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Extensive Information on the Damiana Leaf

Chandramita Bora
The damiana leaf is popularly known for its various medicinal properties, though, along with its several benefits, this herb also has a few side effects.

The Versatile Damiana

The Maya Indians of Yucatán regarded Damiana as mizib-coc/mizibcoc, which means 'plant for asthma'. Besides being known for its aphrodisiac properties, damiana, for the Mayans, was used as a potent body cleanser, and served to be a remedy for pulmonary disorders, vertigo, and lightheadedness.
Damiana is a small shrub of the family Turneraceae, and is native to the regions of Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies. The scientific name of this plant is Turnera diffusa. The leaves of this plant are aromatic, and their smell is said to be somewhat similar to that of chamomile.

Damiana Gains


One of its main constituents is active alkaloids, which may have a testosterone-like effect in the body. Hence, this herb is used as an aphrodisiac to stimulate and boost libido, and treat impotency in both men and women.

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A study carried out in potent and impotent male rats, found that, its leaf extract improved the mating behavior of sexually sluggish and impotent male rats, but no difference was seen in potent male rats. It is presumed to be helpful in treating erectile dysfunction in men.


A research conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), pointed that damiana leaves are likely to raise testosterone levels. A nitrogen alkaloid in this herb behaves like the male hormone testosterone.
In vitro trials also point that, the extracts of this herb curb the aromatase enzyme (reason for testosterone conversion to estrogen), and causes the muscles to smoothen and relax.


This herbal leaf has been proved to be useful in relieving painful menstruation and other hormonal troubles, as it has a normalizing and balancing effect on the hormones. It also aids in relieving symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats.
It is considered that damiana has phytohormonal compounds, which keep the hormones balanced, and fortifies the reproductive organs in women.

Blood Glucose and Anti-inflammatory Agent

In 1984, Mexican scientists documented damiana's hypoglycemic properties. Later, in the same year, a study was published in the December edition of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, which stated that this herbal leaf might help in lowering the blood glucose levels in diabetic patients.
Damiana has an antiulcerogenic effect, which increases the secretion of gastric mucus, and thereby is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties. It even acts as an astringent and detoxifies the urinary tract disease, which must have been preexistent within the genitourinary system.

Depression and Restiveness

Inadequate flow of blood may lead to lethargy and chronic exhaustion. In such a case, this herb may aid in rejuvenating vitality. Damiana is believed to have anti-depressant properties, and hence, it is considered as a tonic for the central nervous system.
It is used as a central nervous system depressant to alleviate conditions like anxiety, nervousness, and depression.
Apart from these, this herb also helps to increase metabolism, relieve cough, asthma, and bronchitis. It is a natural laxative, and hence, can aid in ensuring regular bowel movements. Therefore, people suffering from constipation may find this herb quite beneficial.

Damiana Fallouts

The side effects are usually not serious in nature, and are experienced when the herb or its extract is consumed in excess. An overdose may cause mild indigestion, nausea, and diarrhea.
The herb contains a compound called arbutin, which is a glycoside compound, and is converted to hydroquinone in the urinary tract. Excess of hydroquinone can cause nausea, vomiting, and tinnitus. Many a time, the presence of a significantly large amount of hydroquinone in the urinary tract can also lead to convulsions.
It can affect the blood sugar levels, so diabetic patients should be cautious while consuming this herb. They should consult their physician regarding its usage, and also need to regularly monitor their blood sugar levels while taking it.
People smoking it for recreational purposes may experience irritation in the lung tissues, and also have headaches. Smoking damiana can also affect the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
This herb's prolonged and continuous usage can eventually affect the absorption of iron in the body. Hence, individuals taking this herb must monitor their iron levels at regular intervals. It has also been observed that its usage might lead to weight loss in few people.
Certain people can be allergic to this herb, and may experience symptoms of allergic reactions such as itching, hives, skin rash, unusual swelling of the face, tongue and the lips, and breathing difficulty, after ingesting its leaves. In addition to these, other possible side effects are insomnia, low blood sugar, and irritation of the urethral mucosa.
The effects of damiana on children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women have not been established. Therefore, these individuals should never use this herb without the permission of their health care provider.
The usual or traditional way to take damiana is to prepare a tea with its leaves, which can be prepared by infusing the dried leaves in boiling water.
However, before using it for medicinal purposes, it is better to have a discussion with a herbalist or health care provider about the appropriate dosage, the preparation method, and the kind of precautions that have to be maintained while taking it. This would help avoid any of the unwanted side effects of this herb.
Disclaimer: This story is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.