Turnera diffusa or Damiana is an aromatic flowering herb that is part of the Turneraceae family. Locals call it “Old Woman’s Broom.”
The leaves are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Today, you can find damiana in a variety of forms including, capsules, herbal teas, and liquid extracts.
It can be taken by itself or blended with a variety of other herbs and offers some health benefits, including assisting with weight loss (1).
Damiana has been used for centuries for treating a number of conditions such as anxiety, mild depression, nervousness, sexual dysfunction, and as an aphrodisiac. (2).
The Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR), which is the most respected medicine reference book on the market, lists damiana as an herbal supplement that can be used to help boost libido, relaxation, and weight loss (3).
- 1 What is Damiana?
- 2 Weight Loss Benefits
- 3 Health Benefits Associated with Damiana
- 4 Sexual Wellness
- 5 Damiana Preparation
- 6 Side Effects of Damiana
What is Damiana?
Plants are found throughout Mexico, Central, and South America.
They grow to a height of 3 to 6 feet, and produce leaves 5 to 12 inches in length, with a serrated edge.
The top of the leaves is smooth and pale green, while the bottom has hairy ribs. The leaves offer a very pleasant and relaxing chamomile aroma.
Before being introduced into the United States in 1874, natives were known to smoke the leaves as a way to relax.
The effect of the smoke is similar to that of smoking marijuana (4).
Damiana has a somewhat complicated chemical make up as it is rich in a number of active ingredients.
One of the most important ingredients is a volatile oil found in the leaves.
This oil contains no less than 20 elements.
Among these are:
- Alpha- and beta-pinene
The leaves also contain:
Weight Loss Benefits
Research has shown that the compound damianin produces a relaxing effect on the body’s central nervous system (5).
It also appears to have a hypoglycemic effect which is thought to be why Damiana has a high potential for success in weight loss.
Consumption has been found to cause loose stools, which in turn help to promote internal cleansing, but this is only a small part of a bigger picture.
According to research, when Damiana is blended with other herbs such as guarana and yerba maté, the mixture tends to promote thermogenic activity in the body (6).
According to a study completed in Denmark in 2001, this combination of damiana, yerba maté, and guarana (the same herb found in many energy drinks) produces significant thermogenic effects including appetite suppression.
During the study, which took place over a period of 45 days, subjects were given one capsule before their main meal.
The study found that this helped to significantly delay gastric emptying, increased the time during which they continued to “feel full” and helped to produce significant measurable weight loss (7).
Some test subjects were given Damiana, guarana, and yerba maté. The rest were given a placebo.
Weight was measured for each subject, at 10 days, 45 days, and 12 months.
Researchers were surprised to find that the group given the damiana supplement lost significantly more weight than those given the placebo.
From this, the researchers were able to surmise that the damiana, yerba maté, and guarana supplement did in fact significantly slow down gastric emptying.
Test subjects remained feeling full quicker, and for a longer period of time.
This is only the beginning…
Researchers believe that damiana offers noticeable mood enhancement.
This combined with appetite suppressant effects may help to improve certain conditions that lead to overeating.
This is especially true in those who tend towards emotional eating when they are stressed or depressed (8).
Health Benefits Associated with Damiana
The effectiveness of the supplement you choose will be based on the purity, quality, and percentage of damiana and other ingredients found in it.
Damiana has been used to improve digestion for centuries.
It does so by helping your body to break down sugars and fats within your digestive system and helps your body to absorb more nutrients.
It also helps to move toxins through your digestive tract and cleanse your entire digestive system (9).
Treat Urinary Problems
Damiana has long been a traditional way to treat bladder infections amongst the locals in South America and to treat a range of urinary problems (10).
In Europe, especially in Germany, people have been using damiana tea as a way to help relieve stress and anxiety (issues that often lead to emotional eating).
This is thought to be a result of the calming effect it has on the human central nervous system (11).
Improved sleep has also been an additional benefit.
Damiana has also been proven to have an aphrodisiac effect.
Many now believe it can be used to boost libido and assist those who are suffering from erectile dysfunction (12).
Despite the number of studies conducted, no one has come up with a specific recommended safe dosage that everyone can agree on.
However, the traditional dosage is approximately 2 to 4 grams of dried damiana taken three times a day just before you eat a meal.
Damiana is available as a tincture, in capsule form, and as a tea.
Blending the tea with yerba maté and guarana seed extract are most preferred.
If you wish to make damiana tea, you can buy it in tea bags or as loose leaf tea.
Always be sure to read the dosage instructions on the label first.
Always consult a doctor before
Side Effects of Damiana
Side effects of consuming damiana are rare.
While relatively safe, there have been some noted serious side effects.
Among these are convulsions and symptoms that are similar to those seen with strychnine poisoning and rabies.
Symptoms have been reported in cases where people have consumed 200 grams in a single dose.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume damiana.
There have not been significant amounts of research concerning its effects on the mother, unborn child, or newborn.
Since damiana can affect blood sugar levels, those with diabetes must monitor blood sugar levels closely.
Taking it may also affect blood glucose levels.
Most individuals stop using it at least 14 days before a scheduled surgery.
Damiana may also adversely interact with some diabetes medications.
This is because it may lower blood sugar levels and when taken along with anti-diabetes medications may cause the person’s blood sugar levels to drop to unsafe levels (13).
Among these medications are:
- Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
- Glimepiride (Amaryl)
- Glipizide (Glucotrol)
- Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
- Pioglitazone (Actos)
- Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
- Tolbutamide (Orinase)
Using Damiana for the sole purpose of losing weight is probably a bad idea.
Damiana helps curb appetite and slow down the speed at which that full feeling dissipates.
Any diet supplement, whether it contains damiana or not, can only help if you learn to eat healthy and exercise.