A common desert plant in the extreme southwest USA, Central America, and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, Damiana has been used for medicinal purposes documented back to Mayan civilization. I found my first pack when in Cabo San Lucas visiting Cacti Mundo‘s gift shop. The dried ground aromatic leaves tucked into small plastic pouches were in the display case ready for sale. Always on the lookout for unfamiliar taste experiences and the connection they make to understanding other cultures, I couldn’t think of a better souvenir! After giving 1 pack to a friend and the other to myself, I surprisingly forgot it for years in the deep recesses of my pantry…until this morning.
My sore throat and congestion were dragging me down and regular tea just wasn’t cutting it. Reaching around on the shelves, my hand brushed up against…my unopened Damiana. This time I’d make it work by grabbing some ginger and agave nectar, boiling some water (microwave won’t do), tossing a pinch of Damiana in my cup and mixing all to taste. Damiana on it’s own is mellow without the customary loose leaf tea kick that many are accustomed to. I think adding ground
ginger gives it a whole new dimension flavor that’s similar but not as biting as Tazo China Tip green tea. Most importantly right now, it’s relaxing my chest and opening congestion so I can speak…albeit hoarsely instead of issuing pained whispers.
Damiana sold for herbal remedies today is grown on ranches. Most commonly used as an aphrodisiac, conventional wisdom suggests that it increases blood flow and thereby stimulation to the erogenous zones. Throw in the common knowledge that it has anti-depressant hormonal balancing properties and is a digestive stimulant (Damiana-based liqueur anyone?) and you get quite a healthful drink. Perhaps another weapon in our arsenal for depending less on synthetic pharmaceuticals….
photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky