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Damiana

Turnera diffusa, known as damiana, is a shrub native to Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. It belongs to the family Turneraceae.

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Damiana is a relatively small shrub that produces small, aromatic flowers. It blossoms in early to late summer and is followed by fruits that taste similar to figs. The shrub is said to have an odor somewhat like chamomile, due to an oil present in the plant. The leaves have traditionally been made into a tea which was used by native people of Central and South America for its aphrodisiac effects. Spanish missionaries first recorded that the Mexican Indians drank Damiana tea mixed with sugar for its ability to enhance lovemaking.

Damiana today is conventionally made into a tea. In herbal medicine, damiana is used to treat conditions ranging from coughs to constipation to depression. The herbal supplement is reputed to help with Fibromyalgia, energy, emphysema, low estrogen, frigidity, hot flashes, impotency, infertility, menopause, Parkinson's disease, PMS, inflammation of prostate, Lou Gehrig's disease, and more dealing with reproductive organs in both males and females.

Damiana is an ingredient in a traditional Mexican liqueur, which is sometimes used in lieu of Triple Sec in margaritas. Mexican folklore claims that it was used in the "original" margarita. The damiana margarita is popular in the Los Cabos region of Mexico.

Damiana can also be smoked, whereby the effects have been reported as somewhat similar to Cannabis sativa although milder and more relaxing. Smoking 0.5 to 1gram at a time can result in strong introspective and hallucinogenic experiences many find unpleasant due to the lack of euphoria and severe hangover headaches. In some places in Australia, Damiana is used as an alternative to tobacco when smoked with Marijuana. Damiana supposedly has a synergistic effect with Passionflower which when smoked in a combination has been said to be extremely relaxing and promotes lucid dreaming. Damiana has been included as an ingredient in herbal cigarettes.

Damiana has been used by Agent Provocateur in their Beauty Range products for its aphrodisiacal qualities. It has been combined in their Poudre D'Amour with Purple Orchid, Passionflower and Cocoa.

While scientists have not yet found any conclusive data on Damiana's psychoactive effects, it has recently been shown that a chemical essential to the plant's structure, damianin, has certain effects on the central nervous system. This chemical may therefore account, in part, for the reports of psychoactive effects, however the research involved is limited at this point.

In the CSI: NY episode, "Like Water for Murder" Damiana was featured mixed with chocolate.


 
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