Our Turnera diffusa also known Damiana, Ajkits, Hierba del Venado (Spanish: ‘herb of the deer’), Misibkok (Mayan: ‘asthma sweeper’), Old Woman’s Broom, Oreganillo (Spanish: ‘little oregano’), Oreja de Venado (Spanish: ‘ear of the deer’), Pastorcita (Spanish: ‘little shepardess’), comes from Mexico, where is sustainably cultivated in dried areas and has become an important income for local farmers.
There is no historical evidence that Turnera diffusa has been used ritually, however the Mayans certainly used this plant as a medicine. They called it misibkok, which translates to ‘asthma sweeper’, as it helps to ‘sweep away’ breathing problems. The leaves were dried and ground into a fine powder which was then made into a strong tea or decoction and drunk. They would also smoke the leaves. In certain regions of northern Mexico, it has been used to treat nervousness and weakness, as well as for stomach upsets, rheumatism and scorpion stings.
In the Bahamas, for the treatment of headaches, they would boil the leaves in water to make a steam inhalant. It has been noted to be effective as a mood enhancer and to be useful for the treatment of cramps and menstrual pain.
For over a century, Turnera diffusa has been regarded as a sexual stimulant that improves sexual function in both men and women. Also used as an anti-depressant and a tonic, Turnera diffusa is useful for anxiety, treatment of coughs and as a mild laxative. It can also relieve headaches, prevent bedwetting, and stimulate muscular contractions of the digestive tract. Turnera diffusa is a stimulating nerve tonic used for debility and lethargy and is considered to be an aphrodisiac.
Turnera diffusa, or Damiana, is an aromatic shrub that can be found growing throughout Mexico, Central and South America. This small plant will only grow to a height of about 30cm, with its leaves being small at 2 cm. It produces small yellow flowers that bloom in the late summer and fall. It has no specific soil types for it to grow in, however it does prefer a warm climate and can actually grow well in desert conditions.
All parts of the plant can be used except for the roots. The leaves consist of volatile oils, hard and soft resin, tannins and starch. The leaves also contain the antimicrobial, hydroquinone arbutin.