December 3, 2014

Grow your own Damiana Cocktail - Photo courtesy H. Zell/Wikimedia Commons (HobbyFarms.com)

Christmas is coming. If you’re like me and make a lot of the gifts you give like, time is growing short. This past weekend my apprentice class was here, and we got a chance to share what we were all working on. One of my students reminded me of a gift I’ve given in the past that might be time to bring back: damiana liquor.

Damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca) has a long-standing reputation as being an aphrodisiac. It’s often associated with men, but its action of increasing blood flow, and thereby sensitivity, to the abdomen can benefit women, as well. Damiana is a good option to sip with your significant other for a private, cozy holiday date in front of the fire. The year I first made this recipe, my husband and I rang in the new year with it—delicious!

Growing Damiana
Damiana is typically grown in Mexico and South America. In my part of Ohio, it’s best to grow it in a pot in full sun and bring it in during the winter. This beautiful deciduous shrub blooms with a distinct yellow flower, and the leaves can be harvested for use in early summer.

Healing with Damiana
Beyond being a fun herb to set the mood, it can also be used in treating sexual dysfunction (especially when there is an emotional component), respiratory problems and digestive issues. It’s also reputed to be helpful with depression. The tea has even been known to help lower blood sugar. Because its ability to bring blood flow to the pelvis can sometimes encourage a woman’s monthly cycle, it is sometimes advised to avoid during pregnancy.

Drinking Damiana
Damiana happens to be quite delicious, though some might find it bitter as a tea. It can easily be encapsulated or tinctured, but it is really nice when made into a cordial. The recipe below takes a bit of patience, as you have to wait for it to age, but it’s well worth the wait! Get started on this right away and keep it around for that special date night, give it away to someone special for Christmas, or save it for when you just want to treat yourself to something really delicious.

Recipe: Rosemary Gladstar’s Damiana Love Liqueur
Courtesy Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, by Rosemary Gladstar

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce damiana leaves
  • 2 cups vodka or brandy
  • 1½ cups spring water
  • 1 cup honey
  • vanilla extract
  • rose water
  • chocolate Syrup
  • almond extract

Preparation
Soak damiana leaves in alcohol for five days. Strain, and reserve the liquid in a bottle kept the refrigerator.

Soak alcohol drenched leaves in spring water for three days. Strain and reserve liquid.

Over low heat, combine the damiana water extract and honey, warming gently. Remove pan from heat and add the damiana alcohol extract. Stir well. Pour into clean bottle and add dash of vanilla and touch of rose water to taste. Let it mellow for 1 month or longer; it gets smoother with age.

To each cup of finished damiana liquor, add 1/2 cup of chocolate syrup, two to three drops of almond extract, and a touch more rose water.

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