The species of the Turnera, usually called damiana, are traditionally used to increase sexual desire, relieve depression and calm anxiety. These leaves are found throughout Mexico and Central America as well as in parts of South America and the southwestern United States. Damiana is available in teas, capsules, pills, liquid tinctures, extracts and some stores that sell herbal products for smoking have damiana leaves. This is smoked to obtain a relaxing effect and a mild euphoria. There is little scientific evidence to support any efficacy of damiana, according to Drugs. com. The website advises consulting with a health care professional before using any herbal product.
Damiana contains small amounts of chemical compounds called cyanogenetic glycosides that release hydrogen cyanide, a substance with poisonous properties. The negative effects of these compounds are related to the use of large amounts of damiana, according to Drugs. com.
Hazards and interactions
Although herbal products do not contain tobacco or nicotine, smoking these herbs can still have dangerous effects. As with tobacco cigarettes, smoking damiana produces tar, ash and carbon monoxide and smoking is bad for the lungs.
People who take medications to control their blood sugar level should not use damiana, says Drugs. com. You can also experience complications if you have medical conditions such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.
Although rare, some people may experience allergic reactions when smoking damiana. Signs of a severe allergic reaction may include difficulty breathing, closing of the throat, hives, and swelling of the face or mouth. Drugs com recommends that you undergo emergency medical treatment if you experience any of these symptoms while using damiana. An allergic reaction to an herbal product can lead to a life-threatening anaphylactic shock, which involves a sudden drop in blood pressure and serious respiratory problems.
Lack of information
There is a lack of research on the safety of damiana, according to Drugs. com and most of the few studies conducted focused on oral consumption instead of smoking the leaves. The safety of damiana for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and for people suffering from liver or kidney diseases is unknown. The toxicity of cyanide is unknown and cyanide in the body can harm the fetus or infant. There is no research available on the safety of damiana when used in children, according to Drugs.com. This plant affects brain chemicals and can be dangerous to use for anyone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mania, who has Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. Taking it orally can lower blood sugar, so if you plan to smoke the leaves you should be careful if you take medications to regulate blood sugar.