Turnera diffusa (formerly T aphrodisiaca) is of the Turneraceae family.
A small aromatic shrub native to the northwest desert region of Mexico. It is also found in the desert southwest of the United States and in many parts of South America. Its leaves are ovate, smooth and pale green on the upper side and smooth on the undersides except for a few hairs on the ribs. They are less than an inch long with a distinct aroma. The flowers are yellow, arising singly from axila of the leaves followed by a one-celled capsule splitting into three pieces. The flower has an aromatic smell with a bitterish taste.
Damiana requires a dry soil in a warm sunny sheltered position. It is possible that, while the plant will be cut back to the ground by cold weather, the rootstock is hardier and will re-sprout in the spring. Sow seeds in spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from winter cold for at least their first winter outdoors. Division can be done in spring or autumn. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. The leaves are harvested when the herb is in flower in summer.
Aztec legend states that damiana was a powerful aphrodisiac. The Mayans called it mizibcoc and used it in the treatment of giddiness and loss of balance. It is still made into a popular alcoholic drink in Mexico, where it is widely recognized as an aphrodisiac. The scientific literature on this plant dates back more than 100 years when reports described its aphrodisiac effects. In spite of the numerous anecdotal reports of both aphrodisiac and hallucinogenic effects there are no studies that verify them. It is used to flavor a liquor made in Guadalajara called Damiana.
As an aphrodisiac, damiana works by sending blood to the genital area. It must be used consistently for several weeks before an effect is noticed. The leaf is infused to treat sexual trauma, frigidity, and impotence. It also clears the kidneys, helps the digestion, relieves constipation, and benefits lung problems and coughs. Steep two teaspoons of leaf per cup of water for 20 minutes. Take ¼ cup four times a day. Or take 1-5 capsules of the herb by itself.
Due to its testosterogenic quality, damiana has always been seen as an herb for men, helpful in treating premature ejaculation and impotence. It works well in combination with saw palmetto berry and/or ginseng and was used that way by Native Americans for this purpose.
It is a blood purifier with many of the same properties as parsley. Its essential oil is irritating to mucous membranes, increasing the production while decreasing the thickness of fluids produced by these membranes and may account for its success as a diuretic, laxative, blood purifier and expectorant. The effect is most pronounced in the reproductive and urinary systems. It’s used in the treatment of urinary infections such as cystitis and urethritis due to the constituent arbutin, which is converted into hydroquinone, a strong urinary antiseptic, in the urinary tubules.
It is a relaxing nervine and tonic with an affinity for nervous system problems that affect the reproductive system. It works by increasing blood flow, blood oxygenation, and energy in the affected area while it relaxes the whole person. It is also used for debility, depression and lethargy. It has mild laxative properties. It has traditionally been used to treat coughs, colds, enuresis, nephritis, headaches and dysmenorrhea. It is a popular cure in Mexico for hangover.
Homeopathic Uses: Homeopaths use damiana for impotency, nervous prostration that leads to sexual debility, incontinence in the aged, prostatic discharge, and menstrual irregularity in the young.
Too much damiana can cause insomnia and headaches.
For rituals, Damiana is worn, burned, drunk, and carried to promote lust. It is especially potent when placed in something red. For a meditation incense combine bay leaves, sandalwood and damiana. Burn a little at a time; do not set too much smoldering on the coals directly before going into meditation. Damiana should ideally be stored with a piece of quartz, and an oil of this herb is said to be the best for the protection of the crystal. Solitary practitioners work with damiana to open their charkas and increase their psychic abilities in their quest for a heightened vision.
Cordial of Damiana
Soak 1 oz damiana leaves in 1 pint of vodka for five days. Pour off the liquid, strain and filter through a coffee filter. Soak remaining alcohol-drenched leaves in ¾ pint distilled or spring water for another five days. Pour off the liquids, strain and filter as before. Warm water extracts to 160F and dissolve ½ -1 cup of honey. Combine alcoholic and aqueous extractions. Age for one month. During the aging a sediment will form as the liqueur clarifies. The sediment is harmless but you may wish to siphon the clear liqueur from it. (The Magical & Ritual Use of Herbs)
2 parts damiana leaves
1 part chamomile flowers
1 pat lemongrass leaves
1 part wild oats
1 part peppermint leaves
1 part rose hips
¼ part jasmine flowers
¼ part sliced fresh organic oranges or tangerines
1/8 part lavender flowers
Combine and cover with boiling water. Let steep for 15 minutes. Strain and enjoy 1-3 cups per day (Healing Tonics)
Compendium of Herbal Magick, Paul Beyerl, Phoenix Publishing, 1998; 0-919345-45-X
Ellen Evert Hopman, Destiny, 1995;
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997, ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
Healing Tonics Jeanine Pollack, Storey Books, 2000; ISBN: 1-58017-240-7
Herbal Defense, Robyn Landis, Warner Books, 1997, ISBN: 0-446-67242-4
Herbal Remedies for Women, Amada McQuade Crawford, Prima, 1997; ISBN: 0-7615-0980-1
The Magical & Ritual Use of Herbs, Richard Alan Miller, Healing Arts Press
Magical Herbalism, Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn, 1982; ISBN: 0-87542-120-2
Male Herbal, James Green, Crossing Press, 1991; ISBN: 0-89594-458-8
The Master Book of Herbalism, Paul Beyerl, Phoenix, 1984; ISBN: 0-919345-53-0
The New Age Herbalist, Richard Mabey, Collier Books, 1988, ISBN: 0-02-063350-5
Nutritional Herbology, Mark Pedersen, Wenddell W Whitman, 1994; ISBN: 1-885653-03-4
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, Lotus Press, 1988; ISBN: 0-41-524272
The Review of Natural Products, July 1996
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