5 Best Damiana Supplements and Benefits

Benefits of Damiana SupplementsDamiana leaves have been smoked throughout Mexico, Central and South America for hundreds of years as a libido and mood booster. While hippies around the world continue to smoke damiana for its aphrodisiac effects, you don’t need to compromise respiratory function to benefit from this herb. Extracts, tinctures and teas are safe and potent ways to consume damiana and evidence shows its benefits extend from sex drive to increased vitality, blood sugar control, improved mood and even weight loss.

Wildcrafted Damiana – Tradition vs Science

The damiana leaf contains substances such as tannins, resins, essential oils, and a unique substance called apigenin. The concentration of these substances differs between batches of damiana because most sources are “wildcrafted”.

 “Wildcrafted” means that the plant has been left alone grow to naturally in the wild and is then identified and harvested by hand. Elements of nature influence the growth of a wildcrafted plant and can cause higher levels of some constituents and lower levels of others [1].

Generally speaking, wildcrafting is considered to provide a more “potent” version of any herb. Most damiana available online or in the USA is wildcrafted from Mexico. Because of these variable levels of active chemicals within damiana, research-based evidence of the effects of this herb is somewhat lacking.

That said, traditional and anecdotal evidence backs up the use of damiana and it appears to be a safe and effective herb for most people. It’s a good idea to speak to a qualified naturopath or herbalist before taking damiana.

Get In The Mood With Damiana

Damiana is most commonly used as a libido-booster and aphrodisiac. Its effects on sex drive are mostly “in the moment” – rather than acting on hormones, damiana appears to boost arousal by relieving us of the stuff that stops us from feeling confident or present. Notably: stress.

Drinking damiana tea or taking capsules 30 minutes – 1 hour before meeting up with your beloved won’t cause any huge rush of blood to the nether regions, but instead it can literally put you in the mood.

Damiana reportedly boosts feelings of affection, safety, presence and sensitivity – a great recipe for fully enjoying sensual pleasures. Scientific research is very light on the ground for this kind of thing, but there is one study from 2006 that looked at the effects of damiana and other herbs on the libido, sexual satisfaction, and frequency of intercourse of women.

  • The study found that the herbs improved the quality of their sex lives, but had the most profound effect on women who were post-menopausal [4].

Perhaps Damiana would pair well with evening primrose oil, which is another popular supplement for post-menopausal women.

Anxiety, Depression & Damiana

The feel-good vibes that you may get from damiana are due to many of its active flavone components, including apigenin.

  • Research has found that at low doses, apigenin is a nervine and an anxiolytic – a fancy word for “reduces symptoms of anxiety”. At higher doses, it can cause drowsiness and improve sleep quality [3].

This is not going to help your alertness during work hours, but it may be effective as a gentle treatment for insomnia and general restlessness. Some people may find they feel groggy the morning after taking damiana, but this can be avoided by starting with a small dose. Many people report improved productivity and motivation after taking damiana to correct their sleep cycle and reduce feelings of anxiety.

Damiana is used in various herbal traditions as a treatment for depression, but no studies are available to back up or dispute this use. The apigenin content that gives damiana its anti-anxiety effects may also provide temporary relief to depressive moods. Speak to a qualified practitioner before self-prescribing damiana, especially if you’re already excessively sleepy as a symptom of depression.

Damiana for Diabetics

Damiana has been traditionally used in Mexico for many illnesses including diabetes and is used today in this capacity throughout regional and urban Mexico. Western medicine has been slow on the uptake, but a study in 2017 identified an active component in damiana that has shown potential as an antidiabetic compound. This constituent is called “teuhetenone A” [2]. Not a very catchy name, but it has a powerful effect on blood sugar.

It appears that teuhetenone A may reduce blood glucose levels. The exact mechanism of its action is unknown, but we know that it doesn’t block carbohydrate absorption from food – instead, it helps to move sugar out of the blood and into the cells where it can be used for energy. The authors of the study note that damiana infusions exhibit the same effect – drinking 3 cups of damiana tea a day can have a similar effect as taking a concentrated “teuhetenone A” extract (this is great because you’d be unlikely to find that kind of extract outside of a lab).

Animal studies have also found that the antioxidant effects of damiana may help to protect the kidneys from damage due to diabetes [5].

Damiana for Weight Loss? Maybe…

Damiana has been packaged with yerba mate and other metabolic-boosting herbs as a weight loss blend. Traditional and research-based evidence shows no direct weight-loss action associated with damiana but its relaxing effects on the central nervous system may help to shift stubborn weight.

A relaxed nervous system reduces stress, but can also help to move things along in the gastrointestinal system. When the central nervous system is chill, bowel motility can function normally and bowel motions may become easier and more frequent in people who suffer from mild to moderate constipation. Improved bowel motions may help to remove toxins from the body and boost liver detoxification which can boost weight loss.

Another effect of a relaxed central nervous system is delayed gastric emptying. The rate that the stomach empties determines how quickly we feel hungry after eating. By slowing down this process, damiana may help you to feel full for longer and reduce the number of calories eaten.

  • A 2001 study showed that a combination of damiana, yerbe mate and guarana effectively delayed gastric emptying and caused significant weight loss in overweight participants [6].

How To Take Damiana Supplements

Damiana is most commonly brewed into a tea. Steep 1 – 2 teaspoons of dried damiana leaves in hot water for 10 – 15 minutes and drink three cups per day. This can have an immediate effect on the nervous system but anecdotal evidence suggests that it can take around two weeks for the full benefits to develop.

Fluid extracts contain high concentrations of the active components from the herb. These are available in alcohol or glycerine (or a combination of both) and are an easy way to take damiana. Dosage will vary between products depending on their concentration, but most only require one dose per day.

The dried leaf is also available as an encapsulated supplement. A dose of 2 – 4g per day is considered a therapeutic level – keep in mind that extracts will be more potent than the dried leaf. A therapeutic dosage of extract would be ~100mg per day.

Is Damiana Safe?

To date there have been no scientific tests on the safety of damiana or its extracts. Speak to a qualified herbalist or naturopath for personalised advice on the safe use of damiana, particularly if you are taking any medications or have a mood disorder.

5 Best Damiana Supplements

#5 Shifa Naturals Super Manpower Tonic Tea

Damiana Extract with TurmericShifa Naturals have created a line of teas that focus on men’s health and this Super Manpower Tonic Tea blend is designed to boost energy, libido and mood. It contains a good amount of damiana along with fourteen synergistic herbs such as the male tonic Tribulus tereestis, adaptogens like Ashwaghanda and Astragalus, and a good dose of anti-inflammatory turmeric. This is a great choice if you’re looking for a gentle introduction to damiana or an all-round male tonic.

You can learn more about the overwhelmingly positive effects of turmeric/curcumin here.

#4 Herb Pharm Damiana Liquid Herbal Extract (1 fl oz.)

Damiana SupplementHerb Pharm have developed an alcoholic extract of organic damiana that has been wildcrafted from its native home in Baja, Mexico. The plants used in this tincture have been handpicked, shade-dried and carefully cleaned before undergoing a 1:5 ratio extraction – that means that this stuff is potent! This is a good choice if you’re already familiar with damiana’s effects on your body and are looking for a strong, pure supplement. As a liquid herbal alcohol extract, you’ll probably find this tastes… intense. Dilute or follow dosage with juice or water.

#3 Anatomy Herbs Organic Alcohol-Free Damiana Extract (2 fl oz)

Liquid DamianaAnatomy Herbs offers an alcohol-free liquid damiana extract which is suitable for those who can’t have alcohol or don’t like the taste. The concentration of damiana is the same as the alcohol extract above, but the potency of the active damiana may be slightly less as alcohol is said to draw out more of active components of herbs into the liquid extract. That said, this is a great choice if you’re starting out on liquid extracts or have a sensitive palate.

#2 Gaia Herbs Professional Solutions Libido-F (60 capsules)

Gaia Damiana SupplementGaia Herbs have combined damiana with other aphrodisiac herbs like Tribulus and suma to create this libido-boosting supplement. Each capsule contains 39mg of wildcrafted damiana extract, so one capsule three times a day will give you a strong therapeutic dose. Gaia Herbs guarantees that this supplement is free from animal products and heavy metal toxins. Choose this supplement if you’re looking for a libido support complex in easy-to-take capsules with a good therapeutic dose of damiana.

#1 Hawaii Pharm Male Care Liquid Extract Tincture (2 oz)

Damiana ExtractHawaii Pharm have developed a liquid tincture combination of herbs that support male health. This blend could help to boost energy, libido, immunity and exercise performance with a big dose of damiana and ginseng, and smaller amounts of saw palmetto, muira puama, catuaba and barrenwort. The liquid extract is sourced from a combination of certified organic and wildcrafted herbs but is guaranteed to be free from preservatives, pesticides and fertilizers. The damiana is a 1:3 ratio tincture which provides a potent dose. A daily dose of 20-30 drops can be diluted or taken directly in the mouth – be sure to follow with a big glass of water to support the kidneys and liver, and to wash down the taste. This is an alcohol extract with added glycerine to further aid the extraction process and improve the taste, but the flavour is still very strong!

View Hawaii Pharm Liquid Damiana Here

Further Reading:

About James Lyons

James Lyons (BHSc Nutritional Medicine) is a clinical nutritionist, medical writer, and educator. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and is passionate about improving public access to reliable and accurate health information.

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