What Is Damiana?

Damiana capsules, extract, powder, and dried herb

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Damiana is a shrub with the scientific name Turnera diffusa. It is native to Texas, Mexico, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. The damiana plant was originally used in Mexican traditional medicine.

Damiana has several constituents (parts) or compounds (chemicals), such as arbutin, pinocembrin, acacetin, apigenin, 7-glucoside, and Z-echinacin. These parts or chemicals are likely responsible for how this plant works.

This article looks at damiana and the evidence for its use. It also provides information on dosage, possible side effects, and interactions.

Dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. Choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF when possible. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredients (s): Asarbutin, pinocembrin, acacetin, apigenin, 7-glucoside, and Z-echinacin.
  • Alternative name(s): Damiana, damiane, oreganillo, the bourrique, Mexican damiana, Mexican holly, damiana de Guerrero, hierba de la pastora.
  • Legal status: Legal in most states (United States), except for Louisiana.
  • Suggested dose: May vary based on condition and dosage form.
  • Safety considerations: Diabetes. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, and children. Damiana may also interact with prescription medications (ex., insulin), herbs, and supplements.

Uses of Damiana

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Turnera species have been used as medicinal plants for various conditions for centuries. These uses include but aren't limited to:

  • Anemia
  • Bronchitis
  • Conditions affecting people designated female at birth (ex., perimenopause, menopause)
  • Cough
  • Diabetes
  • Fever
  • Fungal infection
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Pain
  • Pulmonary and respiratory diseases
  • Skin conditions

Turnera species have also been used as abortives, expectorants (cough medicine that clears phlegm), and laxatives.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa) has been promoted as an aphrodisiac. This means that damiana might improve sex drive (libido) and performance. It is essential to remember that supplements advertised for sexual enhancement may have a high risk of contamination. And the damiana studies for libido have been conducted in rats or humans using combination products, which makes damiana's effects unclear. Researchers thought the aphrodisiac effect might have something to do with this plant's high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant chemicals that are thought to affect the function of sex hormones.

Further, higher-quality studies are needed in humans before drawing conclusions about its effectiveness for any condition.

What Are the Side Effects of Damiana?

Like many medications and herbs, side effects are possible with damiana.

Common Side Effects

The following were found in studies using damiana:

  • Appetite suppression
  • Delayed gastric (stomach) emptying

However, the studies used a combination product (damiana, yerba mate, guarana) and inulin. It's unclear if damiana alone would have these effects.

Some isolated components of damiana have decreased blood sugar.

Severe Side Effects

A severe allergic reaction is also a possible serious side effect of any medication. Symptoms may include breathing difficulties, itchiness, and rash. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any of these side effects.

Damiana powder

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Precautions

Your healthcare provider may advise against taking damiana if any of the following applies to you:

  • Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to damiana or its components (ingredients), you shouldn't take this herb.
  • Pregnancy: Damiana may or may not affect estrogen activity. Aside from this, there isn't any damiana product label for use in pregnant people. With little information on damiana's safety during pregnancy, avoid this herb while pregnant. If you have questions, reach out to your healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks of damiana.
  • Breastfeeding: There are no damiana products for nursing parents. For this reason, avoid damiana while breastfeeding. Consider talking with your healthcare provider to weigh the benefits and harms of damiana.
  • Children: Damiana products are for adults. If you are considering damiana for your child, have a conversation with your child's healthcare provider (pediatrician) first.
  • Older adults over 65: While older adults may have participated in some clinical trials, some of the study participants were only people designated female at birth and postmenopausal. Moreover, some older adults may be more sensitive to medication side effects. For this reason, take damiana with caution.

Dosage: How Much Damiana Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are a few small studies on damiana, larger and well-designed studies are needed. For this reason, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage to take for any condition.

If you want to try damiana, talk with your healthcare provider first. And follow their recommendations or the label instructions.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Damiana?

There is little information about damiana toxicity and overdoses in humans. However, with high doses of 200 grams, you may have convulsions. You may also experience symptoms similar to rabies or strychnine poisoning.

If you think you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, get medical help immediately.

Interactions

Since damiana or its components may lower blood glucose (sugar) levels, this herb may have additive effects with diabetes medications—like insulin. If your blood sugar is too low, symptoms may include excessive tiredness and sweating. For this reason, take damiana with caution.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredient list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Damiana

Since storage instructions may vary for different herbal products, carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container. But in general, keep your medicines tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Try to store your medicines in a cool and dry place.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Avoid pouring unused and expired medicines down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired medicines. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the best ways to dispose of your medications or supplements.

Similar Supplements

Damiana is a plant that can potentially suppress appetite and increase libido (sex drive). Yohimbe is another plant that some people may also use for the same potential effects.

Similar to damiana, there is limited research to support using yohimbe for weight loss or libido. Yohimbe is also not typically recommended in pregnancy, breastfeeding, or children. It is essential to remember that supplements advertised for sexual enhancement may have a high risk of contamination.

But unlike damiana, there is more information about yohimbe's potential side effects and drug interactions. For example, yohimbe is linked to the following side effects:

Yohimbe may also interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAO-I) antidepressants, such as Nardil (phenelzine).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common dosage form for damiana?

    Damiana is available in several different dosage forms—with liquids being the most common.

  • Is damiana available from manufacturers in the United States?

    Yes. There are damiana products that are made by manufacturers in the United States.

  • How do I take damiana safely?

    To safely take herbal medications—like damiana—inform your healthcare providers and pharmacists about any medication changes. This includes over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, natural medicines, and supplements.
    They can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure that you’re giving damiana a fair trial at appropriate doses.

  • Is damiana banned in the United States?

    Damiana is legal in all but one of the 50 states. It was banned in Louisiana in 2005, along with other plants.

Sources of Damiana & What to Look For

There are several difference sources of damiana.

Food Sources of Damiana

Damiana is naturally available as a wild shrub. In the United States, it's approved to be used as a flavoring agent in food.

Damiana Supplements

Damiana is sold in several forms, including pills—like capsules and tablets. If you have difficulties swallowing pills, damiana is also available in the following dosage forms:

  • Liquid extract
  • Tea

You can typically find damiana at health food stores and shops specializing in supplements and herbs. Damiana may also be in herbal combination products to suppress appetite or increase libido. It is essential to remember that supplements advertised for sexual enhancement may have a high risk of contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements. Always look for supplements tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF, or ConsumerLabs.

Third-party testing does not guarantee effectiveness or safety. It does tell you that what is on the label is what is in the product.

Summary

Damiana is a wild shrub with a long history as a medicinal plant. For example, people might use it to lose weight or improve libido (sex drive). There's limited research to support its use for these purposes. Human studies used combinations with other herbs; damiana's effects alone are unclear. And it's essential to remember that supplements advertised for weight loss or sexual enhancement may have a high risk of contamination. Turnera species, in general, have been used traditionally for many conditions.

Taking large doses of damiana may be harmful. Children, people with diabetes, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking it.

Before taking damiana, talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider to help you safely achieve your health goals.

19 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.

Originally written by Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.

Learn about our editorial process