Damiana (Turnera diffusa)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
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.
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.
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.
Female sexual dysfunction
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.
Weight loss (obese patients)
"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.
*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 against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
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.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
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.
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.
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.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. 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.
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.
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).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
Piacente S, Camargo EE, Zampelli A, et al. Flavonoids and arbutin from Turnera diffusa. Z Naturforsch.[C.] 2002;57(11-12):983-985. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
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.
March 22, 2017