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Damiana: the Healing Wild Shrub and Traditional Aphrodisiac
Native to Mexico, Central and South America, Southern Texas and the West Indies, Damiana (UK) grows in these subtropical climates and is also known as Mexican Holly, The Bourrique, Oreganillo and Damiana de Guerrero. The damiana flowers are vibrant, yellow and bloom from small shrubs.
Damiana is an ancient herb that’s gaining popularity in modern day society. Damiana liqueur in your cocktail anyone? Yes, this is actually a thing! Damiana liqueur is produced by many Mexican producers to help create herbal alcohololic drinks.
And whilst many foods, herbs and spices are touted as so-called aphrodisiacs, damiana has some concrete science to back it up, making it more than just a cleverly marketed product.
This article will talk about some of the benefits of damiana and how to find it in the UK. But first things first, what are the historical roots of this enticing herb?
A Brief History
Damiana has traditionally been used to increase sexual desire, however, traditional native healers know that the benefits of damiana extend beyond this. They also prescribed damiana as an anti-depressant, diuretic and anti-septic. It’s also said to have been used as a bladder tonic, and to treat headaches and asthma.
The Guaycura in the Baja region of Mexico is the place where damiana liqueur is first thought to have been made by the Guaycura Indians. They used it during religious ceremonies, but it’s believed to have been banned by the Guaycura because of the belief of its power as an aphrodisiac. In Chinese Medicine, it’s traditionally used to support ‘Kidney Yang’ function.
Benefits of Damiana (UK)
Here are some of the potential benefits of damiana for your health.
Damiana may promote the breakdown of fats and sugars in the digestive system, which increases the body’s nutrient absorption rate. This enables the body to receive the most nutrients possible, and therefore potentially reap the most health benefits.
By encouraging the cleansing of the gastrointestinal tract, unwanted chemicals and toxins are more easily eliminated. This actively slows down the digestive process, and can help dyspepsia and impaired digestion.
Natural Possible Treatment for Depression and Anxiety
Thymol is a compound found in damiana that is known to be beneficial for mind and body. Damiana is sometimes prescribed by herbalists for mild to moderate depression and anxiety. It’s believed to have a calming, restorative effect, acting as a stimulant and tonic on the body. It’s thought to treat physical weakness and nervous exhaustion, which can exist alongside depression.
There are no studies that prove damiana will magic away depression or anxiety, but it has potential to help as part of a wider treatment plan. Despite there being very limited research to make this claim a guarantee, there is a compound called Damianin present in the herb. This has been proven to calm the nervous system.
Believed to have a mild euphoric effect on the mind, the Mayan and Mexican people traditionally used it to elevate their mind for centuries.
Male Sexual Health
Damiana has been likened to an alternative to Viagra. In a study by the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, researchers found that damiana improves male sexual dysfunction by relaxing the small muscles within the walls of the arteries of the penis. Relaxed arteries widen and allow more blood to pass through them, which is what causes an erection.
Female Sexual Health
There are a few possible benefits of female sexual health, including potentially reducing vaginal dryness, increasing sexual desire and intensifying female orgasms. An integrated medical practitioner, Cynthia Watson, brought the possible benefits of damiana for female sexual health to light. In her book, ‘Love Potions, a Guide to Aphrodisiacs and Sexual Pleasures.’ Watson wrote, ‘it is also reported to induce erotic dreams when drunk at bedtime. I can also tell you that Damiana makes my dreams at least a little unusual, with qualities worthy of an abstract Walt Disney production.’ Sounds intriguing then!
Alongside this, she provided evidence that androgen like testosterone might be effective for stimulating women who lack sexual desire. Some researchers believe that an androgen deficiency may be linked to a lack of sexual appetite.
Alternative to Menopausal Hormones
During the menopause, hormones are generally all over the place. One symptom many women experience is a lack of sexual desire. A study on pre-menopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women was conducted by The University of Hawaii. They found a correlation between taking a herbal mix supplement that includes damiana, and improved sexual desire. There was an increased satisfaction in 72 per cent of the women’s sex lives, with the largest improvement in pre-menopausal and peri-menopausal women. In post-menopausal women, the level of desire increased significantly!
May aid in weight loss
Damiana may aid in helping you to feel fuller for longer. It may help you ward off hunger after eating a smaller meal than what usually satisfies you. A study done in Charlottenlund in Denmark found that damiana extends the digestive process that enables your stomach to feel fuller. The study lasted for a 45-day period, and by the end participants experienced a significant weight loss.
There may be a minor laxative effect caused by the leaves. It should also be avoided during pregnancy, because more has to be known on the female hormonal system before we know it’s definitely safe for pregnant women to use.
Written by Jess Burman
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