Damiana is a traditional medicine of Mexico and southern U.S. that has gained some popularity in recently as an herbal aphrodisiac. Damiana has been claimed to produce a mild euphoria, and as such has also been indicated in alleviating depression, inducing relaxation and decreasing anxiety. Perhaps it is this activity that also gives damiana its use in enhancing sexual performance. In animal studies damiana has exhibited antidiabetic activity and anti-hyperglycemic activity (Arletti et al., 1999; Alarcon-Aguilara et al., 1998). Other speculations of damiana’s usefulness relate to either its contents of terpenes, or the one study that demonstrates its ability to bind to the progesterone receptor in human breast cancer cells, however no other clinical work has elucidated damiana’s mechanism of action (Zava et al., 1998).
Damiana is a component in a branded herbal preparation that is claimed for improving sexual function for women called ArginMax. One clinical study showed beneficial results of this formulation, but whether damiana contributed to its efficacy is unknown (Ito et al., 2001). Another mixed herbal formulation containing damiana was clinically tested and found to promote weight loss and delay gastric emptying (Andersen and Fogh, 2001).
No clinical support on the single phytotherapeutic preparation found.
Safety / Dosage
Generally damiana is recommended in the dosages of 400-800 mg three times daily if used singly. Not much is known about the long term safety of damiana, but it has been noted to cause a euphoric and mild laxative effect at high dosages.
1.Alarcon-Aguilara FJ, Roman-Ramos R, Perez-Gutierrez S, Aguilar-Contreras A, Contreras-Weber CC, Flores-Saenz JL. Study of the anti-hyperglycemic effect of plants used as antidiabetics. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998 Jun;61(2):101-10.
2.Andersen T, Fogh J. Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2001 Jun;14(3):243-50.
3.Arletti R, Benelli A, Cavazzuti E, Scarpetta G, Bertolini A. Stimulating property of Turnera diffusa and Pfaffia paniculata extracts on the sexual-behavior of male rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999 Mar;143(1):15-9.
4.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 Oct-Dec;27(5):541-9.
5.Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998 Mar;217(3):369-78.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This monograph can be found in The Health Professional's Guide to Dietary Supplements (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins) by Shawn M. Talbott, PhD and Kerry Hughes, MS.