Damiana Tea

The Baja Love Potion

by Tamara Whiteside

On a recent trip to the Baja, I found a unique herbal tea labeled with a red heart shape and the name “Damiana”. From the looks of package, unable to read Spanish and being an avid herbal tea drinker, I presumed this tea must have medicinal qualities for a healthy heart.

After inquiring about its effects with a few of the locals, it was clear that Damiana was not only good for your health, but it was known as a “love potion”. Despite its long history of use in traditional herbal medicine throughout the world as an antidepressant, diuretic, cough-suppressant and relief of anxiety and headaches, it is first and foremost considered an aphrodisiac.

Damiana was recorded to be used as an aphrodisiac in the ancient Mayan civilization. A Spanish missionary first reported that the Mexican Indians made a drink from the damiana leaves, added sugar, and drank it for its purported power to enhance lovemaking. In the early 1900’s damiana leaf and its elixirs were listed in the National Formulary in the United States and has been associated with improving sexual function in both males and females.

The medicinal part of the plant is its aromatic leaves, which are harvested during the flowering season. Small yellow flowers bloom on the shrub in early to late summer which are followed by small fruits with a sweet smell and fig-like flavor. Damiana is found throughout Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies, as well as in parts of South America. (place Damiana Flower here)

After returning to the states, I was surprised to find that what I thought may have been the Mayan’s secret tea sachet of love, is now available at your local health food store. With hints of mint and chamomile, try it hot with honey or it claims to make excellent iced tea.

Photo credit: The Herbal Advisor