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Damiana Leaf

Damiana Leaf is a part of the Tunera Diffusa plant which is traditionally used as an aphrodisiac and physical tonic. Not much evidence on this plant, but may be slightly effective in rat models of aphrodisia when coupled with fatigue.

Our evidence-based analysis on damiana leaf features 22 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Research Breakdown on Damiana Leaf

1Sources and Structure


Damiana Leaf is the common name of the plant Turnera diffusa Wild of the Turneraceae family. It possesses a history of aphrodisiac usage (usually brewed as a beverage[5]) where it is known to grow, in Central and Southern America. Although diffusa is the species, this herb is sometimes called Turnera aphrodisiaca due to its reported aphrodisiac properties.[6] Other properties attributed to the plant include stimulant and diuretic properties, as well as being a laxative and kidney tonic.[6]


Damiana leaves tend to contain:

  • Acacetin and 7-methyl-acacetin[7]

  • Velutin[7]

  • Turneradiffusin, turneradin and diffusavone[8]

  • Caryophyllene epoxide (with oxide and caryophyllene itself being aromatic oils)[9]

  • Echinacin and echinaticin as well as Z-isomers thereof,[7][10] which are apigenin (7-O-β-d-glucoside) flavonoids with a coumaroyl group attached to the glycoside

  • Pinocembrin[7]

  • Teuhetenone A[7] and Tetraphyllin B[11]

  • 11-hydroxyeremophil-6,9-dien-8-one[7]

  • P-Arbutin,[7] also known as Hydroquinone-β-d-glucopyranoside (both aqueous and methanolic extracts)[12]

  • Damianine (aqueous extract)[12]

  • Gonzalitozin (aqueous extract),[12] a flavonoid[13]

  • Caffeine (aqueous extract)[12]

  • 2″-O-rhamnosylorientin and 2″-O-rhamnosylvitexin[7][10]

  • Apigenin, Chrysoeriol, and Tricin (7-O-β-d-glucoside),[7] the latter two being variants of Apigenin with a methoxy group. Apigenin is present at 0.2-0.24% dry weight of the herb, in the flower and leaves but not fruits or stems[6] Quercetin has also been isolated as a diglycoside[10]

  • Syringetin and Laricitin (3-O-{β-d-glucopyranosyl-(1→6)-β-d-glucopyranoside})[7][10]

  • Luteolin (three glycosides)[7][10]

  • 1,8-cineol as aromatic compound[9] and Delta-Cadinine[9] with all essential oils totalling 0.44% Damiana leaf by weight[14]

  • Beta-Sitosterol[13]

  • Squalene[10]

Binding a P-E-Coumaroyl group to R1 above results in Echinacin while binding it to R2 results in Echinaticin, the Z-isomers are a result of when a P-Z-Coumaroyl group binds to either of these carbons, respectively.[7]


2.1Enzymatic Interactions

Damiana Leaf (methanolic extract) was found to, in vitro, inhibit the aromatase enzyme with an IC50 value of 63.1mcg/mL.[7] Compounds from Damiana were tested in isolation, and both pinocembrin and acacetin appeared to be effective in inhibiting 50.5% and 42.6% of aromatase activity at 10μM concentration and having IC50 values of 10.8μM and 18.7μM, respectively.[7] These results were weaker than the active control of aminoglutethimide (5.4+/-0.3μM).[7]

Moderate efficacy in inhibiting the aromatase enzyme



In a model of sexually exhausted rats (after 24 hours of ad libitum copulation), Damiana Leaf at 80mg/kg was able to improve mounting, ejaculations, and intromission in male rats with both 20 and 40mg/kg trending towards improvement but failing to be statistically significant.[12] The effects of Damiana were most pronounced during recovering copulation (shortly after copulation), and compared to the active control of Yohimbine at 2mg/kg bodyweight Damiana at 80mg/kg was equally effective at aphrodisia but with a mixed comparison on their pro-erectile effects.[12] These aphrodisiac effects have only been noted once elsewhere, with some benefit to sexually sluggish rats.[15]

Lacklustre evidence for the aphrodisiac properties of Damiana Leaf, despite historical usage


When tested in rats using an elevated maze-plus, only the methanolic extract of Damiana Leaf appears to be effective as an anxiolytic at 25mg/kg.[16] This is thought to be due to the Apigenin content.[17] When increasing the dose 12-fold above the effective anxiolytic dose, Damiana appears to have sedative properties.[18]

Some anxiolytic effects, possibly related to the Apigenin-related molecules, of unknown practical relevance


In a pain test in rats (tail-flick test), 10mg/kg Apigenin (one of the main bioactives of Damiana) appears to be approximately as effective as 5mg/kg Morphine Sulfate; the pain reduction was dose-dependent.[18] Given a 0.2% Apigenin content of Damiana, this correlates to quite a high oral dose (5g/kg, toxicology untested).

The bioactive appears to be a very effective pain killer, but the amount of Damiana that must be consumed to reach this level may be excessive and impractical

4Interactions with Hormones


Damiana Leaf (methanolic extract) appears to be a weak phytoestrogen, acting on the estrogen receptor with 9% efficacy at 250mcg/mL; this was attributed to the compounds apigenin (7-O-β-d-glucoside), Z-echinacin and pinocembrin with IC50 values of 10, 20, and 67uM respectively.[7]

5Interactions with Organ Systems


Damiana has been implicated in reducing gastric emptying rate, but the study in question used YGD capsules (Yerba Mate, Guarana, Damiana) and causation cannot be placed on Damiana.[19] YGD capsules have been associated with weight loss due to increased satiety.[2]

Arbutin isolated from Damiana Leaf at the dose of 30 or 60mg/kg bodyweight for 14 days resulted in gastroprotective effects against an aspirin or an alcohol-induced induction of ulcers in mice, and Arbutin was associated with significantly less lipid peroxidation (MDA) and nitric oxide than both control and active control of omeprazole. Omeprazole (undisclosed concentration) was more effective at reducing the Ulcer Index when administered acutely.[20]


In a study on CCL4-induced liver toxicity, Damiana leaves failed to exert significant protective effects in a Huh7 cell line.[21]


One study assessing a variety of plants and their ability to induce relaxation on phenylephrine-induced corpus cavernosus contraction (a test for pro-erectile effects) noted inhibition of contraction in the range of 84-95% at 10mg/mL, which was deemed comparable to Damiana Leaf (although Damiana Leaf was not tested). these were more effective than the Viagra used as an active control, but the concentration of Viagra used was low (35mcg/mL).[22]

6Safety and Toxicology

Isolated arbutin from Damiana Leaf at up to 2000mg/kg in rats for 2 weeks failed to show any signs of toxicity.[20]


  1. ^ Effectiveness of a herbal formula in women with menopausal syndrome.
  2. ^ a b Weight loss and delayed gastric emptying following a South American herbal preparation in overweight patients.
  3. ^ The enhancement of female sexual function with ArginMax, a nutritional supplement, among women differing in menopausal status.
  4. ^ A double-blind placebo-controlled study of ArginMax, a nutritional supplement for enhancement of female sexual function.
  5. ^ Lowry TP. Damiana. J Psychoactive Drugs. (1984)
  6. ^ a b c Kumar S, Madaan R, Sharma A. Estimation of Apigenin, an Anxiolytic Constituent, in Turnera aphrodisiaca. Indian J Pharm Sci. (2008)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Zhao J, et al. Anti-aromatase activity of the constituents from damiana (Turnera diffusa). J Ethnopharmacol. (2008)
  8. ^ Quantitative Determination of β-Arbutin and Seven Flavonoids from Turnera diffusa (Damiana) Extracts and Dietary Supplements Claiming to Contain Damiana by Using HPLC-UV Method.
  9. ^ a b c Alcaraz-Meléndez L, Delgado-Rodríguez J, Real-Cosío S. Analysis of essential oils from wild and micropropagated plants of damiana (Turnera diffusa). Fitoterapia. (2004)
  10. ^ a b c d e f Zhao J, et al. Phytochemical investigation of Turnera diffusa. J Nat Prod. (2007)
  11. ^ Spencer KC, Seigler DS. Tetraphyllin B from Turnera diffusa. Planta Med. (1981)
  12. ^ a b c d e f Estrada-Reyes R, et al. Turnera diffusa Wild (Turneraceae) recovers sexual behavior in sexually exhausted males. J Ethnopharmacol. (2009)
  13. ^ a b Domínguez XA, Hinojosa M. Mexican medicinal plants. XXVIII. Isolation of 5-hydroxy-7,3',4'-trimethoxy-flavone from Turnera diffusa. Planta Med. (1976)
  14. ^ Kumar S, Taneja R, Sharma A. Pharmacognostic standardization of Turnera aphrodisiaca Ward. J Med Food. (2006)
  15. ^ Arletti R, et al. Stimulating property of Turnera diffusa and Pfaffia paniculata extracts on the sexual-behavior of male rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). (1999)
  16. ^ Kumar S, Sharma A. Anti-anxiety activity studies of various extracts of Turnera aphrodisiaca Ward. J Herb Pharmacother. (2005)
  17. ^ Apigenin: The Anxiolytic Constituent of Turnera aphrodisiaca.
  18. ^ a b Kumar S, Madaan R, Sharma A. Pharmacological evaluation of Bioactive Principle of Turnera aphrodisiaca. Indian J Pharm Sci. (2008)
  19. ^ Hui H, Tang G, Go VL. Hypoglycemic herbs and their action mechanisms. Chin Med. (2009)
  20. ^ a b Taha MM, et al. Gastroprotective activities of Turnera diffusa Willd. ex Schult. revisited: Role of arbutin. J Ethnopharmacol. (2012)
  21. ^ Torres-González L, et al. Protective effect of four Mexican plants against CCl₄-induced damage on the Huh7 human hepatoma cell line. Ann Hepatol. (2011)
  22. ^ Hnatyszyn O, et al. Argentinian plant extracts with relaxant effect on the smooth muscle of the corpus cavernosum of guinea pig. Phytomedicine. (2003)