The ancient Mayan civilization utilized the damiana herb as a traditional aphrodisiac, and the people of Central America where the Mayan civilization was based utilize it to this day. As herbal tonic as well as an aphrodisiac, the damiana herb remains in continued use and is considered very valuable for its stimulatory action, as well as its tonic like effect on the body. This is the reason, that the herb action is such a valuable remedy for people affected by a mild depression to this day - herbalist will normally suggest the remedies made from this herb. The damiana herb is a very strong and aromatic herb, it has a slight bitter taste, and the leaves of the herb are used in countries such as Mexico to substitute for tea leaves and furthermore, the herb is also used as a flavoring agent for a variety of liqueurs.
Different preparations can be made from the leaves of the damiana herb, it can be taken in the form of an herbal tea or they can even be smoked like tobacco, the use of any of these derivatives will induce a relaxed state of mind in the individual using them. The herb will also induce a subtle kind of high tinged with sexual overtones, and the effect is a little reminiscent of the effects induced by smoking marijuana. Women are supposed to be much more highly effected by the medication especially, when they use it over a long period of time. Mexico produces some well known damiana liqueurs, which are subtly advertised as aphrodisiacs, these liquids contain only very minute quantities of the herb, though they are reputed to be very effective. Moreover, the amount of herb infused into the liquor is sufficient, and give these beverages a distinctive herbal flavor.
The action of the damiana herb lies mainly in its ability to act as a tonic and as a restorative agent on the functioning of the nervous system in affected patients. In addition, the herb has a traditional reputation as an aphrodisiac agent. The tonic property of the herbal remedy is connected to the main chemical constituent, called thymol; this compound has an antiseptic and tonic action on the body.
The herbal properties of the damiana are technically, what is known as thymoleptic - that is, they possess a life enhancing and stimulating action on the body and mind of the affected person. This herbal remedy is normally prescribed for the treatment of individuals who are suffering from mild to moderate depression, including those who are affected by any long term nervous exhaustion. Affected individuals benefit from its stimulatory and restorative properties, thus the herbal remedy is considered extremely valuable when treating disorders such as anxiety and depression, especially when these affect the person at the same time. This sort of situation often happens following long term exposure to stress.
Traditionally the damiana has been linked to disorders affecting men, largely due to its strong testosterogenic quality, hence, the herb has always been principally considered as being useful for men. It is known to be helpful in the treatment of conditions such as premature ejaculation and long term impotence in men. However, the herb is not exclusively for men and it is clearly beneficial to both sexes, men and women can take advantage of its beneficial properties, the herb is known to have a restorative effect on the reproductive organs of both sexes.
Women affected by very painful and delayed periods are usually prescribed herbal remedies made from the damiana, and the herb is also used specifically for the treatment of persistent headaches which are connected to menstruation in women.
The damiana possesses both a diuretic and urinary antiseptic action, it is very effective in the treatment of urinary infections, including cases of cystitis and urethritis affecting patients. The main effect of the herb comes about by the action of the chemical compound known as arbutin that is chemically converted into a form known as hydroquinone, which works as a strong urinary antiseptic, along the internal urinary tubules and results in the alleviation of the conditions. The chemical compound is also seen in a number of other useful herbs, the uva-ursi is one good example.
The mildly laxative action of the damiana is another important property it possesses as an herbal remedy; the herb is very effective in the treatment of persistent constipation which is caused by a poor muscle tone in the bowel musculature.
Other medical uses
Habitat and cultivation
The damiana herb is a native of the Gulf of Mexico and regions of southern California and is also found in the wild in some of the northern Caribbean Islands, and in Namibia. In these areas, cultivation of the damiana occurs on a significant scale and the herb is also found growing wild. The ideal habitat preferred by the herb is a hot and humid climate. The herb flowers in the summer, when the harvesting of the leaves is carried out.
The damiana has been subjected to various chemical studies, which have demonstrated that the herb contains between 0.2 and 0.9 percent of a very complex volatile oil, this oil is what gives the herb most of its characteristic odor and taste. The herb also contains large quantities of an herbal resin, which is identified as the bitter principle, it has a lot of tannin, and is filled with mucilage, and starch make up the other minor constituents. Verification of the reported presence of caffeine is still required as no study has been carried out in this regard. The herbal constituent believed to be responsible for the claimed aphrodisiac action has not been identified in the damiana until now. No physiological activity of value has been confirmed in studies carried out on the herb and on the basis of available evidence, the only conclusion that the can be made is that the herbal remedial action is non-existent and that no basis can be referred to for the use of this herb by human beings. Its purported value has been questioned again and again over the years, it may well be that, the herb truly has no value as a remedy for human disorders.
Preparation of an herbal tea from the damiana involves the addition of 250 ml or a cup of boiling water to a gram of some dried damiana leaves. The herbal leaves must be allowed to steep into the boiling water for about ten to fifteen minutes. Once sufficient time has passed, strain the herbal drink, cool it and then drink three cups of this herbal remedy, every day as a treatment for various illnesses. The damiana can also be taken in the form of an herbal tincture, patients can take 2-3 ml of the herbal tincture, thrice every day. The herbal tablets or herbal capsules can also be taken, dosage amounts can be 400-800 mg of either one or the other, thrice every day. The herbal remedies made from the damiana are normally never used singly. The herbal remedy is believed to be much more effective when used in combination with other herbs that have a similar or complementary activity on the human body.
Side effects and cautions
A mild sensation of euphoria is sometimes believed to be induced in a person using higher doses of damiana. Consumption of the herbal leaves is known to have a minor laxative effect, higher intakes of the herbal leaves may have a stronger laxative action, and the use of extremely high doses of the herbal remedy may cause the stools of the patient to loosen considerably.