Damiana (Turnera diffusa / Turnera aphrodisiaca)

Traditional Indications

Damiana is antidepressant, aphrodisiac, euphoric, mild diuretic, mild laxative, mild purgative, nervine, stimulant, stomachic, testosteromimetic, thymoleptic and urinary antiseptic. It is traditionally indicated for depression, nervous dyspepsia, atonic constipation, coital inadequacy, debility and lethargy. Damiana is specifically indicated in anxiety neurosis with a predominant sexual factor. Damiana is a valuable strengthening remedy for the nervous system. In particular, it has a stimulating and enhancing action on those functions related to the male reproductive system, especially where there is sexual inadequacy with a strong psychological or emotional element. The alkaloids are thought to have a testosteronal effect. It is of benefit in any debilitated condition of the central nervous system from anxiety and depression to neuralgia; and is used to contain genital herpes. Although considered to be a 'male' herb, it is not contraindicated for women with debilitated conditions. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Damiana is known Da Mi. Da Mi is said to enters the Kidney and Liver channels. Da Mi is said to lifts the Spirit and calms the Shen, Tonify Kidney Yang a strengthens Jing (Essence) and harmonise the menses. (2)

Pharmacognosy

Damiana is a traditional aphrodisiac. An aphrodisiac is defined as any food or drug that arouses the sexual instinct, induces sexual desire and increases pleasure and performance. Estrada et al. conducted a study to determine whether T. diffusa recovers sexual behaviour in sexually exhausted male rats and to identify the main components in an aqueous extract. T. diffusa significantly increased the percentage of males achieving one ejaculatory series and resuming a second one. In addition, T. diffusa significantly reduced the post-ejaculatory interval. (3)

Damiana has traditionally been used as an herbal aphrodisiac. The extract of Turnera diffusa and two isolated compounds pinocembrin and acacetin could significantly suppress aromatase activity thus reducing oestrogen. (4) Aromatase is an enzyme involved in the production of oestrogen that acts by catalysing the conversion of testosterone (an androgen) to oestradiol (an oestrogen).

1. PFAF. Turnera diffusa aphrodisiaca 2019.
2. Healing WRIo. Damiana 2019.
3. Estrada-Reyes R, Ortiz-López P, Gutiérrez-Ortíz J, Martínez-Mota L. Turnera diffusa Wild (Turneraceae) recovers sexual behavior in sexually exhausted males. Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2009;123(3):423-9.
4. Zhao J, Dasmahapatra AK, Khan SI, Khan IA. Anti-aromatase activity of the constituents from damiana (Turnera diffusa). Journal of ethnopharmacology. 2008;120(3):387-93.