It was worshipped by the ancients of Central America from the beginning of time, but its name derives from the Ancient Greek daman or damia, meaning ’to tame’. Damiana is wild, unique, but it has the power to tame and control – as if it holds the entire universe within, yin and yang. And, above all, damiana knows how to clear the path for the arrival of new life.
The Ancient Maya and Aztecs, as well as their descendants today, have been using abundantly the leaves and stem of this bushy plant, not only as an aphrodisiac, but also for relaxation, better digestion, mood, or simply its taste, the same way we use coffee today. It is believed to be the original ingredient of the Margarita, and a ’Damiana Margarita’ is still a popular cocktail in Mexico. When the Europeans learned about the medicinal properties of the plant, it was soon included in pharmacopeias, describing it as a plant that reduces anxiety, neurosis, reduced sexual performance caused by depression (in Great Britain), as well as leaves suitable for a tonic that eliminates excessive mental activity and strengthens weak nerves (in Germany).
The Maya and Aztecs had no problem with fertility, and they lived in a pure and healthy environment which the modern man is deprived of. One of the aspects that the unnatural pace of life in an unhealthy, polluted environment affects the most in men is their sex life: impotence, infertility, bad results of the spermogram (low sperm count and motility), spermatorrhea, and sexual dysfunction. The World Health Organization guidelines suggest that a normal sperm count is at least 15 million per ml, or no fewer than 39 million sperm per sample, of which at least 30% should be moving progressively. Oligospermia – a low sperm count, is one of the most usual issues encountered by couples trying to conceive. The official medicine usually treats the problem with severe medication and invasive procedures, which are unpleasant and often without positive results, thus only enhancing the feeling of inadequacy in men. The other problem encountered by couples, especially those going through the frustrating IVF procedures, is a strict sex regimen and routine that begins to feel like an imposed obligation, both mentally and physically exhausting.
The traditional medicine worldwide, from Mesoamerican to Chinese, uses damiana as a very potent therapeutic agent that provides energy, improves blood circulation and brings oxygen to cells, boosts mental prowess and annihilates depression, stimulates testosterone production which is essential in creation and ripening of sperm, helps preserve and renew male reproductive organs, enhances circulation of body liquids in genitals, and is also an adaptogen, protecting the entire body from infection, particularly the genitourinary system. Damiana enhances secretion of urine, stimulates the kidneys to filter toxins, which is beneficial not only for the body, but also the psyche. That is why damiana in its scientific name also contains the word ‘aphrodisiaca’ – Turnera diffusa var. aphrodisiaca Willd – it is an aphrodisiac that stimulates and enhances not only the sexual desire, but also the overall energy of the body and the mind.
A clinical trial involving a thousand male subjects in the USA and Europe proved that damiana has the ability to enhance erectile function in consecutive sexual intercourse following orgasm, improve morning erection and maintain erection stability during the intercourse. The ideal effect of the plant is achieved in long-term use. Two clinical trials conducted on rats proved that the plant improves the libido in tired and sluggish animals, as well as that it shows the usual adaptogenic features – boosts the body stamina and endurance. Damiana is a man’s best ally, however it can also be used by women, especially during perimenopause. The ancient Aztecs even gave it to children, since it is an excellent cure for an upset stomach, constipation, headache, excessive sweating and lethargy.
What is it that gives such power to damiana? The terpenes found in the oily plant extract are a strong antioxidant that preserves the body cell structures, delays decay and aging and protects from infections. Damiana naturally increases the levels of nitrogen monoxide, an important vasodilator, which helps open blood vessels. In normal circumstances, during sexual arousal, the brain signals the body to increase the production of nitrogen monoxide. The substance relaxes the blood vessels and enables free blood flow into the muscles and soft tissue, including the ones in the penis. Flavonoid apigenin relaxes, reduces anxiety, but also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and anticancerous properties. Damiana is a natural aromatase inhibitor – it blocks the activity of aromatase and abnormal estrogen production which stimulates cancer cell growth, and is used as therapy for breast cancer in post-menopausal women, but also in gynecomastia – enlarged breasts in men. Acacetin is another flavonoid that inhibits estrogen activity and enhances testosterone function, and can help not only in sexual dysfunction, but also enhance physical attraction as it can build muscle. A total of 22 flavonoids found in damiana have a wide range of medicinal properties, among other, to reduce inflammation, increase immunity, prevent neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. Flavonoids boost longevity, help us get slim and strong, improve cognition and prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by enhancing blood flow into the brain. Arbutin is aphenolic glycoside, very beneficial for the kidneys and urinary tract, with diuretic and antiseptic properties. It boosts genital circulation as it renews capillary pressure and regulates liquid retention in tissues.
Damiana has numerous medicinal properties which are beneficial for overall male health and wellbeing. Whenever we lose the grip, damiana has the ability to tame and balance, and help us regain control over our lives.
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