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Damiana: (Turnera diffusa)


Damiana: (Turnera diffusa)


The Damiana plant is an up to 2 meters tall shrub, which indigenous to Latin America and which leaves are used in drinks and teas and as a tobacco substitute for centuries. In Europe, this herb is still not widely used, but we think that it should get more attention, because of its interesting flavour profile and medicinal value.


The flavour of the leaves can be described as very herbaceous due to the thymol and Cineol content, which also makes them helpful against asthma and other breathing problems. In addition, they are also slightly bitter, as the leaves also contain some caffeine, which is one of the reason, why it is also described to help against headaches and fatigue and was and is used as a traditional aphrodisiac.

Till today, a liquor made from tequila and damiana leaves is given as a wedding gift in hopes of many children in some parts of Mexico, because of the aphrodisiac effect. This effect is also proven and not just a traditional belief and was found to derive first of all from the caffeine, but also from different plant flavonoids, which seem to have pro-progesterone effects. Besides the leaves, also the flowers contain these flavonoids and are described to be also used for making an aphrodisiac tea, but also to be smoked traditionally together with the leaves.

Smoking the leaves and flowers is described to have an anti-anxiety effect and is the reason damiana is often used as a substitute to cannabis, although it doesn't have the same effect nor THC, but the herbaceous flavour and odour, makes it easier for people suffering cannabis addiction to wean themselves off and by supporting them to quit smoking cannabis. In addition, it is also legal.


Coming back to the culinary aspects of damiana, the leaves and flowers are great for infusions for drinks and are used in Mexico traditionally together with tequila or used in margaritas, providing a nice herbal flavour to alcohol drinks. The yellow flowers are hard to get, but are not as herbaceous as the leaves and are a great add-on in salads.

The leaves can also be used in green pestos and various sauces and add a nice and unique flavour to them. We would like to see more of it on the market and there is no reason why not. It is approved in the Us as well as the EU to be used in food products.


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