Damiana use dates back many centuries. When the spanish missionaries arrived in present day Mexico, they already observed the native tribes drinking Damiana tea.
But most likely its use dates back even further; there are records of it being used by the Mayans as an aphrodisiac as well as to treat “giddiness and loss of balance”. It was also used by the Aztecs as a tonic that was believed to improve general health and wellbeing.
In the 1870’s Damiana began to spread as a commercial product. It was imported into the USA where it was sold as part of tonics, elixirs and tinctures. Already then it was mainly used as an aphrodisiac that would improve sexual ability, especially in the old and enfeebled.
In 1888 Damiana was added to the first edition of the American “National Formulary” as both an elixir and a liquid extract, but never proved itself enough to be entered into the pharmacopeia. Due to this failure, it was dropped from the National Formulary in 1916, but the liquid extract from its leaves was kept in until 1947.
Knowledge about Damiana was slowly fading away, until it was rediscovered in the 1960s by ethnobotanists and hippies alike. Along with many other herbs, Damiana has since found a permanent place in the medicine closet of herbalists and phytotherapists.