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How to use Old woman's broom
Scientific Name: Damiana
Other Names: Herba de la pastora, Mexican damiana, Mizibcoc, Old woman's broom, Turnera diffusa
Who is this for?
In folk medicine, damiana has a reputation for being an aphrodisiac, a substance that heightens sexual desire and enhances sexual performance. Results of a few small laboratory studies suggest that damiana may have some slight ability to widen blood vessels an effect that may relieve male impotence to some extent. Other recent laboratory studies support a second traditional use of damiana for treating gastrointestinal conditions such as dysentery. It has shown some antibacterial activity when tested under laboratory conditions, but much more study is needed to confirm or disprove the results. Damiana has also been used to treat conditions as diverse as bedwetting, constipation, depression, and headaches. No evidence from controlled human studies supports any of damianas uses, however.
In studies of laboratory animals, damiana has shown unpredictable effects on blood sugar levels and body weight. In one study, a damiana extract appeared to decrease blood sugar in animals with diabetes. Conversely, later studies showed no effect. In addition, earlier studies associated weight loss with using damiana; but subsequent research showed little or no weight-loss effect. Both of these potential uses of damiana need further research before they can be recommended for use.
When should I be careful taking it?
In animal studies, damiana may have affected blood sugar levels. Individuals who have diabetes may want to avoid using it.
Very little information is available on how damiana might affect a developing fetus, an infant, or a small child. Therefore, its use is not recommended during pregnancy, while breast-feeding, or during early childhood.
What side effects should I watch for?
In one reported case, ingesting a single dose of 200,000 mg (200 grams or about 7 ounces) of damiana resulted in seizures.
Less Severe Side Effects
Using damiana has been associated with headaches and insomnia.
What interactions should I watch for?
Taking damiana may interfere with insulin and oral drugs for diabetes, such as:
Because damiana may affect blood sugar levels, taking it with other herbals that are known to lower blood sugar may either cancel the blood-sugar lowering effects or increase them. Hypoglycemia blood sugar that is too low may result. Herbals that may reduce blood sugar include:
Some interactions between herbal products and medications can be more severe than others. The best way for you to avoid harmful interactions is to tell your doctor and/or pharmacist what medications you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter products, vitamins, and herbals.
Should I take it?
Damiana is a bush that grows wild in Mexico, Central America, parts of South America, and the southwestern United States. It bears yellow flowers and red berries that may be eaten or used in cooking. The leaves and occasionally the yellow or reddish twigs are used in medicine. Damiana leaves are collected during the summer while the plants are in flower. They are dried and used for tea or made into commercial dosage forms such as capsules. Due to its pleasant, mildly minty taste, damiana may be used to flavor beverages or season foods. It is also often included in combination herbal products.
During the 1960s, a rumor spread that smoking dried damiana leaves produces a euphoric state similar to the use of marijuana. Although this rumor has been disproved, damiana smoking is still widely promoted on the internet as legal alternative to marijuana. Smoking damiana is also reported to help individuals stop smoking cigarettes, but no evidence proves this theory, either.
Dosage and Administration
A common way to take damiana is as a tea made by adding 2,000 mg to 4,000 mg (2 grams to 4 grams) of dried leaves or leaf powder to about 8 ounces of boiling water. After being strained to remove solid particles, up to three cups of this tea may be consumed daily.
Damiana is also available as capsules and as extracts, which are concentrated liquid preparations made by soaking damiana in a solvent such as alcohol and then straining out the solid particles. Recommended doses for these commercial products differ greatly. If damiana is used, the directions on the package that is purchased should be followed.
Although damiana has not been proven effective for treating any medical condition, it is used in folk medicine for conditions ranging from impotence to bedwetting. It may have some effectiveness for lowering blood sugar or reducing weight, but more study is needed before damiana can be recommended for any medical use.
Individuals with diabetes are advised not to take damiana because it may affect blood sugar levels. Due to a lack of information about potential effects of damiana, it should also be avoided by small children and pregnant or breast-feeding women.
One individual is reported to have suffered a seizure after taking a large dose (200,000 mg) of damiana. Other side effects attributed to the use of damiana include headache and insomnia.
Due to its possible blood-sugar altering effects, damiana may interfere with drugs or herbals that decrease blood sugar levels.
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(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)