Damiana leaf has been used in folk medicine by its aphrodisiac, tranquilizing, and physical restorative properties. It comes from the yellow and fragrant plant Turnera Diffusa, native to the sub-tropical climates of southern Texas, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Even though damiana leaf seems to contain a diverse amount of compounds (such as caffeine, apignen, eucalyptol, lutelin, and tannins ), the active ingredient responsible for its main anxiolytic benefits has not been identified yet. Apparently, damiana leaf acts as an adaptogen, being the aphrodisiac effect rather a product of stress and fatigue release than an increase in libido itself. Recent findings have suggested the notion that the pro-sexual effect of the aqueous extract of Turnera diffusa in rats involves the participation of nitric oxide pathway, mainly at central level .
In this study , damiana leaf facilitated expression of male sexual behavior by shortening mainly ejaculation latency. The treatment also facilitated the number of discharges in the ejaculatory motor pattern as well as the number of ejaculatory motor patterns and its associated penile erections. Thus, Turnera Diffusa prevented the pro-sexual effects of treatments on both experimental models. Besides, the extract of Turnera diffusa at the amount of 10 mg/kg produced an anxiolytic-like effect in male rats without affecting ambulation and motor activity. Thus, damiana leaf recovers sexual behavior in sexually exhausted males .
Furthermore, there are studies that support its use as a bladder tonic. This study suggests that Damiana Leaf possesses antioxidant effects in vitro and hepatoprotective effect on acute liver injuries induced by hepatotoxins in vivo, and the results suggested that the effect of the substance against hepatotoxins that induced liver damage is related to its antioxidant properties.
In conclusion, the results support the use of Turnera diffusa as an aphrodisiac in traditional medicine and suggest possible therapeutic properties of the plant on anxiety. The flavonoids present in active extract may participate in its pro-sexual effect, which is analogous to those produced by yohimbine, suggesting a shared mechanism of action.