Damiana is relatively unknown in Western Europe. The medicinal plant originating from Central and South America is traditionally used for depressive moods, libido disorders or anxiety disorders, which is why Damiana is becoming more and more widespread among us.
Profile of damiana:
Scientific name: Turnera diffusa
Plant family: passion flower family (Passifloraceae)
Sowing time / Planting time: only in hardiness zone 9 or higher; 8 and below only precultur
Flowering period: July – September
Harvest time: May – August
Useful plant parts: leaves, flowers
Location: Sunny to full sun locations
Soil quality: moderately moist, lime-poor and well-drained soils
Use as a medicinal herb: stress, stomach ulcers, nervousness, headaches, depression
Use as aromatic herb: no use
Plant characteristics and classification of damiana
Origin and occurrence of damiana
Damiana is found in the tropical and subtropical regions of America and Africa. Their original homeland goes from southern North America to Argentina. In large numbers you can find the plant today in Mexico and on some Caribbean islands. Within its natural habitat, the plant colonizes mainly sandy and dry and occasionally humid areas.
As the herb has an increased interest in natural medicine, damiana is now grown in some African countries.
Plant order of damiana
The species Damiana (Turnera diffusa) now belongs to the passion flower family (Passifloraceae). Previously, the plant was assigned to the family of turneracids (Turneraceae), but no longer exists due to botanical similarities with the passion flower plants. The genus Turnera (saffron mallow) includes more than 120 species.
Damiana looks very similar to its relatives yellow alder (Turnera ulmifolia). This species grows side by side with the damiana in most cases.
Characteristics of Damiana
Damiana is a typical semi-shrub that reaches growth height up to 2 m (78 in). In most cases, however, the stature height is significantly lower at 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in). The perennial plant is not hardy. The roots of the damiana are brownish to dark yellow colored, finger-thick and can have numerous fine root hairs.
The mint-green leaves of damiana are conspicuously sawn, slim and tapered. The length of the leaves is rarely more than 5 cm (2 in). Due to the relatively notched leaf nerves the leaves are segmented. Both the leaves and the stems are covered with fine glandular hair, giving the entire plant a fluffy feel. The stem is green in young plants and lingers with age.
The flowering time of damiana is usually between early July to late September. Then the typical yellow flowers appear, which always consist of five petals and pentamerous (counting 5) calyx. The flower center is a bit darker colored than the flower margins. The flowers are hermaphrodite and have a diameter of up to 2 cm (0.8 in).
In late summer, at the time of fruit ripening, the flowers turn into oval capsule fruits, which have a diameter of up to 2 mm. Each fruit contains notched, brownish and hairy seeds.
Damiana – cultivation and care
Although the plant is native to the tropics and subtropics, it is quite possible to cultivate damiana in temperate climate.
Damiana is native to the tropical and subtropical regions and grows there in sunny to full sun locations. The plant has only few claims to the ground, although a slightly moist and well drained soil seems optimal. Peaty and loamy soils, however, can be problematic. If no other soil types are available, the soil should first be loosened up with sand.
The sowing should be done exclusively in preculture, as the seeds of damiana need higher temperatures to germinate. For cultivation a potting soil with mineral parts is needed. For this, optimal are the months from February to April. The seeds of the plant should be put about 2 cm (0.8 in) deep into the soil and afterwards well moistened. Subsequently, the surface of the pot should be covered with a plastic wrap. The pot should then be placed in a warm place. The germination period can be up to 14 days. After the plant has formed a stable shoot axis, the plant can then be prick out in a larger pot with commercial herbal soil.
Basically, the cultivation with fresh plants is much easier.
Damiana can also grow in more extreme locations. The plant is quite undemanding in terms of nutrient supply. However, as the plant grows in pot culture in most cases, a normal flower fertilizer should be given in small amounts every four to six weeks.
Damiana grows best when watered on a regular basis. However, it should always be poured so much that the first few 2-3 cm (1-1.2 in) of the earth are moistened. Excessive watering can affect growth and cause lasting damage to the plant.
As a tropical plant damiana is not hardy and has only a very low frost tolerance. It should overwinter already at the beginning of autumn to a place that has at least 14 ° C (58 ° F). From mid-May, it can then be put outside again.
Diseases and pests
Wrong care leads in many cases to the infestation with dark-winged fungus gnats or spider mites. Typical care mistakes are too high humidity in the soil and a lack of air circulation. The use of wrong fertilizers can lead to a lack of nutrition. Normal floral or universal fertilizers with trace minerals are better than typical herbal fertilizers.
If damiana is to be used as a medicinal herb, the plant should be cultivated for at least two years. Only then it has produced a sufficient amount of ingredients. Both the flowers and the herb can be harvested. It is important to dry the herb.
Use of damiana
Damiana in the kitchen
There is no evidence that damiana is being processed as a spice.
Damiana as a medicinal herb
Damiana already has a long medicinal tradition due to its aphrodisiac properties in the Mayas and in Mexico. Sometimes the plant was also used for ceremonial occasions. In Mexico, the herb was used under the name Misibcoc to cure colds, infectious diseases or blood vessel diseases. It has only played a certain role in European natural medicine for several years. No doubt, it is rich in effective ingredients that can provide relief for many minor ailments today.
In the mid to late 19th century, damiana was a popular male tonic in the United States. Under the product The Mormon Elder’s Wafers tinctures based on damiana were sold as a universal remedy for insomnia, paralysis, nightmares or sexual enhancer.
Today, the plant has been scientifically well studied, although more significant studies than the existing ones are needed for certain applications. It is certain that the contained ingredients are of high medical value.
Damiana can be used for these ailments and diseases
- kidney weakness
- libido disorders
- loss of appetite
- memory disorders
- menstrual cramps
- spasmodic cough
- stomach pain
- adaptogen (stress-reducing)
- antiulcerative (counteract ulcers)
- lowers blood pressure
- slightly euphoric
Best known is damiana as a slightly euphoric aphrodisiac, but it can also be used against health problems such as asthma. Damiana relieves breathing due to its essential oils and by relaxing the bronchi. In addition, it strengthens the digestive system and can relieve abdominal pain. It also helps against menstrual cramps by its anticonvulsant properties. Damiana has a distinct effect on the nervous system. It calms with nervousness and lighten the mind for depressive people. For exhaustion and fatigue, it has a strengthening effect. It can also be used against memory problems because it strengthens the brain.
Preparation of a damiana tea
Time needed: 8 minutes
This is how to prepare a damiana tea by yourself.
- put one to two teaspoons of dried damiana herb in a tea strainer in a cup
- dash with of boiling water
- let brew for 5-8 minutes
- sweeten on request with honey
- drink in small sips
The tea has a fig-like taste and is drunk especially in the evening as anti-stress tea or up to three times a day in Libido disorders.
Occasionally, damiana is also smoked. It is reported that smoking damiana herb has a slightly euphoric and relaxing effect. The effect of smoked damiana should be especially good in combination with wild lettuce and yohimbe.
Damiana should not be consumed before and after surgery, as it may cause negative effects on blood sugar levels. Damiana should also not be taken during pregnancy and lactation. It is therefore not recommended consuming in the long term, as it can lead to abdominal pain.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.
Buy Damiana – What is there to pay attention to?
It is possible to buy the herb and the plant in herb shops or online.
A few plant producers offer fresh Damiana plants. However, it is worth to pay attention to the botanical name (Turnera diffusa), as occasionally other species of the genus turneracids (Turnera) are offered as damiana. The prices for a plant are between 6-11 EUR / $.
For the preparation of teas or smoked many herbal shops offer dried herb. The price range for this is between 3 and 10 EUR /$ per 100 grams (35 oz). The country of origin should be South America.
For the homeopathic treatment of sleep disorders, menstrual cramps or impotence globules are also offered. The most common here are D4 and D12.