By Liz Holtman, Certified clinical herbalist
As Valentine's Day approaches, I love to play around with some of my favorite herbal aphrodisiacs. Damiana, a traditional aphrodisiac of the Mayan people in Central America, continues to have a well-known reputation for evoking passion and love. It has an affinity for the male and female reproductive systems, toning and restoring vitality to those organs. It has been used to increase low libido and its warming and spicy energy is sure to put anyone in the mood! Due to its warming and circulating properties in the pelvic region, damiana can be used to alleviate gynecological problems such as pelvic stagnation and delayed menstruation.
Damiana is an amazing nervous system tonic as well. Its overall restorative nature can be helpful when recovering from periods of long-term stress and when the nervous system is depleted. Damiana's relaxing and uplifting qualities can be useful for anxiety, mild depression, and nervous exhaustion. Its combined influence on the nervous and reproductive system make it especially useful for depression and anxiety associated with sexual issues.
During this month of love, I recommend turning the lights down low and cozying up next to your loved one while sipping on some damiana tea. It will surely bring some warmth into these cold winter nights and to spice things up in delightful ways!
Damiana should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
One tablespoon of damiana per one cup of water. Pour just boiled water over the herb, cover, and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy! Damiana is bitter, so the longer you steep it the bitterer it will become. To reduce the bitter taste, try combining with other herbs like lemon balm, oatstraw, or cinnamon — whatever tastes good to you!
30 drops 3x daily or as needed
Damiana Chocolate Love Liqueur(Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal)
A sweet and delightful drink to put you in the mood on those extra special nights! This recipe takes some time to infuse so prepare ahead of time.
1 ounce damiana
2 cups vodka or brandy
1.5 cups spring water
1 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, chopped
Soak the damiana in the alcohol for five days. Strain and save the liquid in a bottle.
Soak the damiana you removed from the alcohol in spring water for 3 days.
Strain and gently warm the water extract over low heat and dissolve the honey into it. Remove the pan from heat and add the alcohol extract and stir well. Add the chopped up vanilla bean and a touch of rose hydrosol for flavor. Pour into a jar/bottle and let it sit for at least 2 weeks or longer. The flavor will be at its best after a month. Strain the vanilla bean.
For each cup of the damiana liqueur add 1/2 cup of chocolate syrup, 2-3 drops of almond extract, and a touch more rose hydrosol.
Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier
Herbal Vade Mecum by Gazmund Skenderi