By Pamela Santore
“Double, double, toil, and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble. Round about the caldron go…”
In Shakespeare’s traditional witch brew of trouble, we are told to place in the cauldron (while boiling and baking) “filet of a fenny snake,” “eye of newt,” “toe of frog,” “wool of bat,” “tongue of dog,” “lizard’s leg,” “scale of dragon” and “tooth of wolf,” among other ghastly ingredients.
In love potions, lustful concoctions, and aphrodisiac brews, we are told to drink damiana in tea or to smoke damiana in pipes or to burn damiana incense.
Damiana, or Turnera diffusa, is a relatively small shrub native to Central America, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. It produces small aromatic flowers that some say smell like chamomile due to a certain oil contained in the plant.
The Aztecs and Mayans used damiana in tea as an aphrodisiac and stimulant and the herb is still used today principally in love and sexuality spells. Damiana’s reputation as an aphrodisiac stems from the belief that the herb improves circulation and increases genital sensitivity in men and women. It is also believed to decrease anxiety which may lead to an increase in sexual pleasure.
Damiana has been used as an ingredient in a traditional Mexican liqueur and according to Mexican folklore it was used in the earliest margarita. The damiana margarita is popular in the Los Cabos region of Mexico. Thought to provoke and incite lovemaking and visions, it has also been used there in smoking mixtures and burned as incense. Other forms used are tinctures, supplements and food flavoring additives. Damiana continues to be a widely employed aphrodisiac for men and women in Mexico.
The herb was imported into the United States in 1870 and was marketed as a powerful aphrodisiac tincture “to improve the sexual ability of the enfeebled and the aged” and to provide “increased activity to all the pelvic secretions.” Damiana leaf and elixirs were listed in the U.S. National Formulary from 1888 to 1947.
James Duke, Ph.D. claims flower-stage harvested damiana makes “every nerve tingle with sexual sensation, whetting the appetite of lustful desire” in his Handbook of Medicinal Herbs.
Dutch herbalist E.F. Steinmetz introduced Europe to damiana in 1960 saying it “possessed sexual-enhancing properties that can only be experienced rather than described.”
With Halloween around the corner and the witching season at hand, you might want to incorporate a little magic and maybe a lust spell into your sex life. Also known as witch’s broom, the use of damiana in lust infusions, spells and sex magic is noted on Spiritual Spells, a website dedicated to “witchcraft spirituality, guidance and information on the Craft of the Wise.” The site features free magical witchcraft spells, with damiana being utilized in various potions to enchant, attract and charm the object of your desires.
Love magic is the most popular form of magic—witchcraft and root work notwithstanding—and is comprised of love spells, sex spells, romance spells, sex magic, male potency spells and female fertility spells.
Damiana is called the “Love Herb” because it is said to make women willing and to make men “increase their nature,” according to HerbMagic.com. It is suggested that you sprinkle the herb on the food of the one you love and it will intensify desire. Soak in an herbal bath to attract a new love. Carry damiana in a flannel bag and your straying lover will return to you. Soaking damiana leaves in whiskey or wine and sprinkling the liquid on your doorstep for 21 days, starting on the full moon, is another way to make your lover return.
Spiritual Spells sells a “Lucky Mojo Bag for Love” spell. One important component in this recipe is a “large pinch of Damiana herb.”
Lady Amythyst welcomes you to her “magickal medicine cabinet of the witch.” At her “Witch’s Corner,” damiana is a notable ingredient for use in lust spells, love baths, sex magic and is said to produce THC-induced euphoria when smoked. Not only is it good for enchanting a male lover, but, as an aside, is considered an unsurpassed hangover cure.
The Electric Witch also invites you into her herbal garden boasting of damiana’s aphrodisiac properties saying it “does give you some extra vim and vigor by boosting your entire nervous system,” thus enhancing your sex drive. As an aphrodisiac, “damiana can’t be beat—it works almost immediately to get you in the mood.”
Although damiana became wildly popular in Victorian times, aphrodisiac skeptics believe it was not damiana itself, but mixtures at the time which contained high alcohol contents and that the addition of other ingredients such as coca leaves led to its huge sensation, according to an article published in The Vegetarian Times. “These additives may explain both its earlier appeal and why some authorities may still dismiss damiana as an herbal hoax.”
In the Vegetarian Times’ article on “Herbs for Virility,” master herbalist James Green is quoted as saying “the mind is humanity’s ultimate aphrodisiac, and how we think and feel is what turns us on and off.” Damiana assists you in feeling more joyous and well, according to Green. “If you want to enjoy yourself, feel great and make love rather than just have sex, try damiana.”
Although damiana has been widely endorsed as a sexual stimulant, the use of damiana as an aphrodisiac is somewhat controversial because of a lack of scientific evidence backing its effects. Some research, however, suggests that plant compounds contained in damiana have effects similar to those of progesterone. In a study conducted by researchers at Aeron Biotechnology in San Leandro, California, over 150 herbs were tested for their ability to bind with estrogen and progesterone receptors in breast cancer cells. The findings showed damiana was rated among the six highest progesterone-binding herbs and spices.
This research is considered the most viable evidence for the age-old use of damiana as an aphrodisiac. Various scientific studies have shown an association between low progesterone levels, chiefly in postmenopausal women, with decreased libido. “If the binding of damiana extract to progesterone receptors indeed mimics the action of progesterone, damiana could theoretically lead to increased libido in women with a progesterone deficiency,” according to BodyandFitness.com. Although the ability of damiana extract to effect progesterone detection may explain claims that damiana supplementation can increase libido, however, because of a lack of controlled clinical assessment, these theories are merely hypothetical.
In 1999, one clinical study was conducted to validate the traditional use of the plant for sexual dysfunction and impotence. Italian researchers administered damiana extract to both sexually potent and impotent rats. Although the sexually potent rats showed no change, damiana increased the percentage of impotent rats “achieving ejaculation and made them more sexually active.”
A U.S. patent was awarded in 2002 to an herbal composition that included damiana to “overcome natural inhibitors of human sexual response and allow for improved response and psychological effects.” The herbal supplement, which stemmed from the composition of herbs, can be purchased under the brand name ArginMax with formulations for men and women.
Herbs and other dietary supplements should always be used with caution. However, with all of the purported benefits of damiana for sexual health and aphrodisiac properties, you might want to weigh the sexual benefits against any known side effects. A boost in your libido may stem from this herbal gem.
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