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Damiana (Turnera diffusa)

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Also listed as: Turnera aphrodisiaca, Turnera diffusa
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Bignoniaceae (family), bourrique, caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, Damiana aphrodisiaca, damiana de Guerrero, damiana herb, damiana leaf, delta-cadinene, elemene, flavone glycoside, herba de la pastora, flavonoids, Mexican damiana, Mexican holly, mizibcoc, old woman's broom, oreganillo, p-arbutin, ram goat dash along, rosemary, Turneraceae (family), Turnera aphrodisiaca, Turnera diffusa, Turnera diffusa Willd. ex Schult., Turnera diffusa Willd. var. afrodisiaca (Ward) Urb., Turnerae diffusae folium, Turnerae diffusae herba, Turnera microphylla, Turnera ulmifolia.

Background
  • Damiana includes the species Turnera diffusa and Turnera aphrodisiaca. These closely-related plants belong to the family of Turneraceae and grow wild in the subtropical regions of the Americas and Africa. Damiana is widely used in traditional medicine as an anti-cough, diuretic (increasing urine flow), and aphrodisiac agent. Recent studies in rats seem to support the folk reputation of Turnera diffusa as a sexual stimulant.
  • In the Mexican culture, damiana is used for gastrointestinal disorders. Damiana extract has shown antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, which may have gastrointestinal effects.
  • Damiana appears on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and is widely used as a food flavoring. However, because damiana contains low levels of cyanide-like compounds, excessive doses may be dangerous.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Traditionally, damiana has been used as a sexual stimulant. ArginMax® for women contains damiana, but also L-arginine, ginseng, ginkgo, multivitamins, and minerals. Larger, well-designed studies using damiana alone are needed before a recommendation can be made.

C


"YGD," containing yerbe mate (leaves of Ilex paraguayenis), guarana (seeds of Paullinia cupana) and damiana (leaves of Turnera diffusa var. aphrodisiaca), is an herbal preparation frequently used for weight loss. More studies using damiana alone are needed before a recommendation can be made.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, asthma, bedwetting, constipation, cough, depression, diabetes mellitus, diuretic, energy, gastrointestinal disorders, gastrointestinal motility, hallucinogenic, headache, impotence, laxative, respiratory problems, sexual dysfunction (female), sexual performance, muscle relaxant (smooth muscle), stimulant, ulcers, weight reduction.

Dosing

Adults (over 18 years old)

  • In general, 2-4 grams of dried leaf, three times a day, or the same dose steeped in 150 milliliters of boiling water for 5-10 minutes, consumed two to three times a day has been traditionally used. Also, 2-4 milliliters of liquid damiana extract or 0.5-1 milliliterof tincture three times a day has been used. 3-4 grams of powdered leaf in tablets or capsules can be used two to three times a day, and 325-650 milligrams per dose of dried extract powder has been taken.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose of damiana in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to damiana or related plants in the Turneraceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • In general, few adverse effects have been reported for damiana, including diarrhea, headaches, mood changes, erotic dreams, insomnia and hallucinations. Damiana appears on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and is widely used as a food flavoring agent. However, because damiana contains low levels of cyanide-like compounds, excessive doses may be dangerous. Patients with psychiatric disorders, those taking medications for diabetes or to control blood sugar levels, or those with a history of breast cancer should use caution. Avoid use of damiana in patients with Alzheimer's disease, or Parkinson's disease, as ethanol (alcohol) extracts of the leaves and stem have shown central nervous system depressant activity.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Use of damiana is not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to lack of reliable scientific study in this area. Traditionally, damiana has been used as an abortifacient (induces abortion) and is contraindicated during pregnancy.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Damiana may affect blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare provider. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • Damiana may interact with progestin drugs. Caution is advised.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Damiana may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • Damiana may interact with herbs and supplements that alter progestin. Caution is advised.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Alarcon-Aguilar FJ, Roman-Ramos R, Flores-Saenz JL, et al. Investigation on the hypoglycaemic effects of extracts of four Mexican medicinal plants in normal and alloxan-diabetic mice. Phytother Res 2002;16(4):383-386.
  2. Alarcon-Aguilara FJ, Roman-Ramos R, Perez-Gutierrez S, et al. Study of the anti-hyperglycemic effect of plants used as antidiabetics. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;61(2):101-110.
  3. Alcaraz-Melendez L, Delgado-Rodriguez J, Real-Cosio S. Analysis of essential oils from wild and micropropagated plants of damiana (Turnera diffusa). Fitoterapia 2004;75(7-8):696-701.
  4. Andersen T, Fogh J. Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients. J Hum Nutr Diet 2001;14(3):243-250.
  5. Arletti R, Benelli A, Cavazzuti E, et al. Stimulating property of Turnera diffusa and Pfaffia paniculata extracts on the sexual-behavior of male rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1999;143(1):15-19.
  6. Dennehy CE, Tsourounis C, Miller AE. Evaluation of herbal dietary supplements marketed on the internet for recreational use. Ann Pharmacother. 2005;39(10):1634-1639.
  7. Godoi AF, Vilegas W, Godoi RH, et al. Application of low-pressure gas chromatography-ion-trap mass spectrometry to the analysis of the essential oil of Turnera diffusa (Ward.) Urb. J Chromatogr.A 2-20-2004;1027(1-2):127-130.
  8. Hernandez T, Canales M, Avila JG, et al. Ethnobotany and antibacterial activity of some plants used in traditional medicine of Zapotitlan de las Salinas, Puebla (Mexico). J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;88(2-3):181-188.
  9. Hnatyszyn O, Moscatelli V, Garcia J, et al. Argentinian plant extracts with relaxant effect on the smooth muscle of the corpus cavernosum of guinea pig. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(8):669-674.
  10. Ito TY, Trant AS, Polan ML. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of ArginMax, a nutritional supplement for enhancement of female sexual function. J Sex Marital Ther 2001;27(5):541-549.
  11. Nascimento MA, Silva AK, Franca LC, et al. Turnera ulmifolia L. (Turneraceae): preliminary study of its antioxidant activity. Bioresour.Technol. 2006;97(12):1387-1391.
  12. Piacente S, Camargo EE, Zampelli A, et al. Flavonoids and arbutin from Turnera diffusa. Z Naturforsch.[C.] 2002;57(11-12):983-985.
  13. Polan ML, Hochberg RB, Trant AS, et al. Estrogen bioassay of ginseng extract and ArginMax, a nutritional supplement for the enhancement of female sexual function. J Womens Health (Larchmt.) 2004;13(4):427-430.
  14. Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc.Soc.Exp Biol Med 1998;217(3):369-378.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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