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Damiana is a small shrub native to Texas, Mexico, the West Indies, and parts of South America. Reaching approximately 2 meters in height, damiana has smooth straight stems, which may be yellow or reddish-brown in color. The leaves, which grow alternately in clusters along the stem, are oval in shape with toothed edges, olive-green on top, with white hairs on the bottom. Small yellow flowers grow in the upper leaf axils. The fruit is a small, many-seeded capsule, which splits into three pieces. The leaves of the plant are used for health purposes.
Damiana contains between 0.2 and 0.9 percent volatile oil, along with bitter principle, tannin, mucilage, and starch. Although compounds in damiana have been shown to bind to progesterone receptors, no therapeutic effects have been demonstrated for any of the herb's components.
Dosage recommendations for damiana vary according to the method of administration. Common recommendations include infusions using 1 tsp of dried leaves steeped in 1 cup of water, once or twice daily, or 1 tsp of fluid extract three times per day before meals. The herb is also available in capsules with dosage suggestions printed on the label. Damiana use has not been associated with any known health hazards or side effects.