As we tune into themes of love, libido, and pleasure at The Herb Shoppe this month, it is vital we recognize one of the most lovely plant allies out there. There is no other romantic quite like Damiana. Sensual and uplifting, she caresses us with a tenderness and playfulness we may forget we so deeply needed.
Turnera diffusa, or Damiana, is a woody shrub native to Central America, South America, Southern North America, and the Caribbean. The name comes from the Greek word “Daman” or “Damia,” meaning "to tame or subdue." This likely is from this plant’s ability to gently hush feelings of anxiety and depression. It bears yellow flowers that bloom all summer, and small fruits said to taste like figs. Damiana adorns aromatic green leaves which are used medicinally and best harvested when the flowers are in bloom. The taste of these leaves is floral, minty, and slightly bitter.
Written records date the use of this herb to the Maya civilization when the Spanish came to the Americas and noted the medicinal use of this plant by the native peoples (of course, the use of Damiana occurred many years before this written account). The Mayans ground the leaves, added sugar, and drank it as an overall wellness tonic. Spanish accounts noted that those who favored the drink were left “giddy and with loss of balance” after consumption. The Mayans were well aware that drinking large doses of this herb could cause mild hallucinations and feelings of euphoria! Damiana liquor is infamously owed to the Guaycura peoples of Baja California, Mexico. This sweet liquor is still used to this day, and is said to be the secret ingredient to the best margarita! It acts as a strong aphrodisiac and was at one point banned due to its powerful effects. Smoking the leaves is another popular way that Damiana medicine is utilized, and many herbalists today have taken to mixing Damiana into smoking blends to experience a much more mild taste for that uplifting boost.
Damiana is considered an aphrodisiac, nervine, and expectorant. It is astringent, a mild anti-microbial, and stimulatory. The main function of this herb is to improve sexual and reproductive wellness. The leaves have been used to increase libido in all genders. Damiana is amazing because it increases the flow of oxygen to the pelvic region, and boosts circulation throughout the body, but especially within the reproductive organs, even working to strengthen the pelvic floor. Damiana may improve vaginal wetness and one's ability to orgasm, and help to improve conditions such as erectile dysfunction. Damiana relaxes our sacral center on a cellular level,, healing and resolving stored tension and trauma along the way. We can turn to this ally for those who have experienced trauma, struggle with their gender identity or sexual orientation, or have PTSD. Don’t worry darling, Damiana is here for you! Other conditions Damiana may improve are depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, urinary complications, and digestive complaints. It has also been used to improve adrenal, thyroid, ovary, and testicular functions.
This healing herb helps you soften, open and flower into the gentle being you already are. When curtains are closed, Damiana cracks open the window, floats in on a soft breeze, and reminds you that beauty can be found in the smallest, simplest moments. Each sip of her tea warms your heart, relaxes your mind, and grounds the center of your being into the fertile Earth where she will hold you steady. Where herbs like Eleuthero and Rhodiola ignite our fire quickly and boldly, Damiana tends our fire slowly and carefully twig by twig. Tending to each spark with patience and intention, Damiana slowly breathes for us, exhaling oxygen until our inner fire finds a breath of its own. So while you walk down your healing journey, remember to invite in those stagnant parts of your soul for a playdate. Try adding a little Damiana into your monthly yoni steam, smoking habits, a cup of tea, or a little dash into your bathtub. Thank you, thank you, thank you for teaching us Damiana!
You can find this beauty in our blends such as our Aphrodite Smoke Blend, Ignite! Tea, Sacred Sacral Cordial, Beyond Substances Tea, In the Mood Bath Soak, Elevated Desire Capsules, Open Heart Salve, Floral Sipping Vinegar, First Moon Rising Glycerite, Blue Flame Love Cordial, and more!
Darcy. (2022, August 27). 7 benefits of Damiana (turnera diffusa or aphrodisiaca). 7 Benefits of Damiana. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://medicinalherbals.net/damiana-leaf-supplement/
Editorial, A. (2019, March 23). Damiana benefits for women: An anti-diabetic aphrodisiac. Damiana Benefits for Women: An Anti-Diabetic Aphrodisiac. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.ayurvedum.com/damiana-benefits/
Laurel. (2021, June 24). Damiana benefits, uses & history. naturalherbsguide.com. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://naturalherbsguide.com/damiana-benefits-uses-history/
Staughton, J. (2020, February 19). Top 20 benefits & uses of damiana. Top 20 Benefits & Uses of Damiana. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.organicfacts.net/damiana.html
Photo by Maja Dumat