Damiana is a plant native to Baja California Sur, Central America and the West Indies. The leaves from the plant are reputed to be a natural aphrodisiac as well as a treatment for health issues such as indigestion and insomnia. The Mexican population has been aware of this indigenous plant and its health benefits for years. It is only recently that it has made its way into the western market.
This herbal supplement is commonly found as a tea and as a liqueur. A local shop owner told me that the majority of people use it as a sleeping aid though it is often marketed as a “love potion” (sex really does sell everything). She offered us a taste of the Damiana liqueur, which sort of tasted equivalent to the mouthwash Scope. Not bad, kind of minty and oddly sweet…I bet it packs one mean hangover.
The liqueur comes in a bottle shaped like a very voluptuous woman, a rather amusing homage to its reputed “benefits”. Taking large amounts of Damiana is said to “induce a mild sense of euphoria”. Mexican legend says that the first margarita was made with Damiana not tequila.
Along with treating insomnia, the herb is widely used to treat nervousness, weakness, exhaustion, poor circulation, colds/flu, constipation, depression, fatigue, and headaches. There are rumors that it increases the male sperm count and helps to balance hormones in women. The Mayans used it to treat asthma and as a body cleansing herb.
Not only can you drink Damiana, you can smoke it as well. I wonder if this is where the “euphoric effects” come in?
Out of curiosity we bought the tea, which has a similar aroma to that of chamomile and mint and is usually served with large amounts of sugar. The warm evenings have been making it difficult to sleep so I had a cup of tea just before bed the other night to see whether it would help. I totally crashed and woke up feeling rather “spacey” the following day. I am not too sure whether this effect was due to the tea or just too much time in the sun but either way I did sleep remarkably well although I did have some weird dreams.
If you are curious and want to try Damiana for ummmm…whatever “health benefits” you are looking for: click here for the liqueur or here for the tea.
“No Wrong Turns” chronicles Kelsey and her husband’s road trip — in real time — from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.