Damianita : Chrysactinia mexicana

Syn Pectis taxifolia

Also called : false damiana (1), damianita daisy, Garañona, Calanca (Vera Cruz) ; Yeyepaxtle (Puebla) ; San Nicolas; hierba de San Nicolas (Coahuila, Durango, San Luis Potosi) ; damiana, damianita (Chihuahua, Durango, Texas), mariola (Valley of Mexico), false damiana, romerillo (Coahuila, Hidalgo); also said to be known as guayule (Lappas & Gustafson 1950)

  1. Bigelowia veneta and Haplopappus laricifolius are also called false damiana
Chrysactinia mexicana A. Gray : Photographer: Leander, Bruce : Austin, Texas

Damianita is a native of the Chihuahuan Desert, found in Mexico, southern New Mexico, and southwestern Texas. It is a hardy, drought resistant plant. There are six species of plant in the Chrysactinia family. Five species are endemic to Mexico and one (C. mexicana) extends into New Mexico and Texas.

Like many of the herbs in the Pectis (and porophyllum) species the scent of damianita is strongly aromatic and quite pungent. It is said to become sweeter in scent as you move away from the plant. According to Standley (1926) the plant is bitter and has a “strong but agreeable” flavour.

Unlike many of the other deer weeds (1) previously discussed deer will avoid eating this plant.

  1. One of damianas (T.diffusa) common names is deer weed and most Porophyllums are known by the common name of deer weed (yerba/hierba del venado) in various regions.
Close up of damianita leaf.

Note the oil glands (which are quite similar to those of chinchweed (Pectis papposa). The leaves of this plant are semi succulent and the plant itself is woodier than you would expect most herbs to be.

Damianita seed head.

Medicinal actions

Adaptogenic, antipyretic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, demulcent, deobstruent, diuretic, fungistatic, fungicidal, laxative, stimulant, sudorific

In Mexico, damianita is used as a folk remedy for respiratory ailments and skin infections. Maiti (etal 2015) notes the herb is used to treat infertility, inflammation and bronchitis and Gonzalez-Stuart (2010) also mentions a tea of the plant as a treatment for infertility. Tests (in mice) have shown it to have an antidepressant effect (Cassini etal 2015). The leaves and stem are used as a diuretic or to counteract stomach upsets or postpartum pain (1). Alanís (etal 2005) notes the use of the herb as a treatment for diarrhoea. González (1979) notes that an infusion of the plant is taken for “coldness” of the spleen and an infusion of stems and leaves was taken for stomach pain.

  1. “Postpartum” means the time after childbirth. The period of time just after delivery.

In the tradition of balancing the forces of the universe (as practised in traditional Aztec medicinal philosophy) González (a different one, 1988) writes of the boiled plant (1) being used against coldness (which causes pain in stomach), and the infusion of the leaves being used to treat stomach pain and to lower fever. Dolores & Latorre (1977) notes of the herb that, during a fever, a steaming decoction is used as an inhalant.

  1. Most likely in the form of a decoction

In the campo (1) the campesinos (2) use this herb as a tea to relieve pain before childbirth (la frialdad) (3), for stomach pain (dolor de hijar) (4) an infusion is taken over a period of nine days (5). This infusion is also taken in cases of female infertility (González 1988). Another source (Dolores & Latorre 1977) mentions a decoction being drunk for four consecutive days to induce conception.

  1. The countryside
  2. Country folk
  3. labour pains
  4. “pain of the daughter” – referring to the area of a womans body that feels menstrual pain . This refers to the lateral part of the belly, it extends down to the lumbar area and upwards to the ribs and out to the hip bones. Also called dolor de ijada (flank pain). In rural communities of Nuevo León, liver pain is called this. For the mestizos and the Huichols of the Sierra Madre Occidental, it corresponds to ovarian pain . In Jalisco and Michoacán it covers diseases of the female genital organs . Some people place it at the level of the lumbar region, while others carry it towards the abdominal flanks . In Sinaloa it is a name given to any pain that “hits” women, on one side of the belly, and that it can be caused by various diseases: urinary tract infection; infection, cyst, or tumour of the ovaries or womb; stomach cramps (diarrhoea) and appendicitis.
  5. I assume the nine days prior to the expected birthing date

Alvarez (1980) notes that a decoction the branches and leaves of False damiana are used for the sick, anaemic or those convalescing from illness.

Some of the chemicals isolated from the plant have both antifungal and antibacterial properties particularly against Aspergillus flavus (Cárdenas-Ortega etal 2005). Research at The Institute of Social Security in Monterrey, Mexico also found Chyrsactinia mexicana to show the greatest antimicrobial activity against the drug-resistant strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the pathogenic bacteria species attributed to tuberculosis (Molina-Salinas etal 2007) and has potential to be developed into an anti-tuberculosis drug. Another study on the essential oil of the root (Campos etal 2011) showed that the oil has antimicrobial actions against strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae (1) that were resistant to b-lactam antibiotics (2).

  1. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the causative agent of pneumonia, which is the leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age and has mortality rates of up to 20% in adult patients with bacteremia (the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream).
  2. β-lactam antibiotics (beta-lactam antibiotics) are antibiotics that contain a beta-lactam ring in their chemical structure. They are used in the management and treatment of bacterial infections. They are among the most commonly prescribed drugs and include the penicillins and cephalosporins.

Nutritional components of damianita (C.mexicana)

Data per mg per gram (dry weight)

Phosphorous P0.86


  • Alanís, A. D., Calzada, F., Cervantes, J. A., Torres, J., & Ceballos, G. M. (2005). Antibacterial properties of some plants used in Mexican traditional medicine for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 100(1-2), 153–157. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2005.02.022
  • Alvarez G. P. 1980. Yerbas medicinales . Como curarse con las plantas. Editorial El libro Español.
  • Atzin, Jose. Undated publication. Antique Recetario Medicinal Azteca. Gomez Gomez Hnos. Editores s. de R.L.,Mexico,
  • Campos, Bárbara & Cirio, Anabel & Rivas-Galindo, Verónica & Salazar-Aranda, Ricardo & Torres, Noemí & Pérez-López, Luis. (2011). Activity against Streptococcus Pneumoniae of the Essential Oil and 5-(3-Buten-1-ynyl)-2, 2′-bithienyl Isolated from Chrysactinia mexicana Roots. Natural product communications. 6. 1035-8. 10.1177/1934578X1100600728.
  • Cárdenas-Ortega, N. C., Zavala-Sánchez, M. A., Aguirre-Rivera, J. R., Pérez-González, C., & Pérez-Gutiérrez, S. (2005). Chemical Composition and Antifungal Activity of Essential Oil ofChrysactinia mexicanaGray. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53(11), 4347–4349. doi:10.1021/jf040372h
  • Cassani J, Ferreyra-Cruz OA, Dorantes-Barrón AM, Villaseñor RM, Arrieta-Baez D, Estrada-Reyes R. Antidepressant-like and toxicological effects of a standardized aqueous extract of Chrysactinia mexicana A. Gray (Asteraceae) in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Aug 2;171:295-306. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.05.055. Epub 2015 Jun 10. PMID: 26070520.
  • González, S. L. 1979. Plantas medicinales y su Uso Empírico en los municipios de linares y Dr. Arroyo N. L. Tesis Licenciatura. Ciencias biológicas U.A.N.L, México.
  • González L. C. R. 1988. Estudio Preliminar del Uso y Aprovechamiento de especies Vegetales en los Municipios de R. Arizpe Y Parra, Coahuila, México.
  • GONZÁLEZ-STUART, A. E. (2010). Use of Medicinal Plants in Monterrey, Mexico. Notulae Scientia Biologicae, 2(4), 07. doi:10.15835/nsb245399
  • http://www.medicinatradicionalmexicana.unam.mx/demtm/termino.php?l=1&t=dolor-ijar (last accessed 20.12.21)
  • Lappas, L., & Gustafson, C. B. (1950). Investigation of Chrysactinia mexicana, A. Gray††Presented by Lewis Lappas to the Graduate College of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, 1948. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Scientific Ed.), 39(10), 591–594. doi:10.1002/jps.3030391016
  • Maiti R, Rodriguez HG, Kumari A (2016) Nutrient Profile of Native Woody Species and Medicinal Plants in Northeastern Mexico: A Synthesis. J Bioprocess Biotech 6: 283. doi:10.4172/2155-9821.1000283
  • Molina-Salinas, G. M., Pérez-López, A., Becerril-Montes, P., Salazar-Aranda, R., Said-Fernández, S., & Torres, N. W. de. (2007). Evaluation of the flora of Northern Mexico for in vitro antimicrobial and antituberculosis activity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 109(3), 435–441. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.08.014
  • Standley P. C. Trees and Shrubs of Mexico” Contribs. U. S. Nat. Herbarium, 23, 1615(1920-1926).
  • VILLASENOR, José Luis and REDONDA-MARTINEZ, María del Rosario. The genus Chrysactinia (Asteraceae, Tageteae tribe) in Mexico. Rev. Mex. Biodiv. [on-line]. 2009, vol.80, n.1 [cited 2020-10-29], pp.29-37.


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