Horny Goat Weed

Last Updated: November 28 2022

Epimedium, known as Horny Goat Weed, is an erectile aid and aphrodisiac used in Traditional Chinese Medicine that just so happens to also increase testosterone in research animals (has not been looked at in humans). May also be a cognitive booster and heart health agent.

Horny Goat Weed is most often used for

What is horny goat weed?

Horny goat weed is the common name for the plant known as Epimedium, which is used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine as a tonic, an aphrodisiac, and an antirheumatic agent. It also goes by the names Herba epimdii, yin yang huo, fairy wings, and rowdy lamb herb. While over 200 compounds have been identified in horny goat weed, the main bioactive constituents appear to be flavonoids, of which icariin is the most well-studied.[47] Icariin is also the main active ingredient in horny goat weed supplements.

Horny goat weed appears to have anti-atherogenic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and immune-modulating effects, though most of these mechanisms have only been investigated in research animals and in vitro.

What are horny goat weed’s main benefits?

Although horny goat weed is one of the most common ingredients in male testosterone-boosting and *erectile dysfunction (ED) supplements,[48] there is a lack of human evidence to support its effectiveness for these outcomes. Horny goat weed (icariin) does have pro-erectile properties in rodent models of ED.[49][50][51] One study found that horny goat weed elevated estrogen and reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels in postmenopausal women.[52]

In vitro and in vivo studies have suggested that horny goat weed is useful for treating cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.[53] Furthermore, recent evidence supports the neuroprotective properties of horny goat weed,[54] though human studies are needed to confirm these effects.

What are horny goat weed’s main drawbacks?

Horny goat weed appears to be safe and well-tolerated when taken orally, and only minor side effects, including abdominal discomfort and nausea, have been observed. In some cases, abnormal heart rhythms[55] and skin rashes[56] have been reported, but in both instances, horny goat weed was coingested with other herbal supplements or pharmaceuticals.

Since horny goat weed may have antihypertensive and anticoagulation effects in the body, taking it alongside medications that reduce blood pressure or prevent blood clotting (e.g., platelet inhibitors or anticoagulants) may cause unwanted side effects. Horny goat weed may also increase estrogen in women.[52]

How does horny goat weed work?

Horny goat weed might benefit ED through its inhibition of phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5). This is the same mechanism exerted by pharmaceuticals like Viagra.[57] PDE-5 inhibition increases levels of cyclic GMP, which enhances smooth muscle relaxation and blood flow to the penis and promotes erection. Horny goat weed may also increase the activity of nitric oxide synthase enzymes and elevate the production of nitric oxide, which also promotes smooth muscle relaxation.[58][59]

The potential cardioprotective qualities of horny goat weed may be related to a decrease in vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation, reduced platelet activation, lipid modulation, and improvements in endothelial function.[53] The suspected neuroprotective mechanisms of horny goat weed could include the upregulation of antioxidant activity[60] and the inhibition of inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.[61][62]

What else is Horny Goat Weed known as?
Note that Horny Goat Weed is also known as:
  • Epidemium
  • Herba Epimdii
  • Icariin
  • Yinyanghuo
  • Fairy Wings
  • Rowdy Lamb Herb
Horny Goat Weed should not be confused with:
  • Icariin (active ingredient)
Dosage information

Testosterone boosting effects in rats have been noted at a dosage of 200mg/kg of a 40% extract (80mg/kg Icariin), and based on body weight conversions from rats to humans[35] this results in an estimated human dose of:

  • 900mg Icariin for a 150lb person
  • 1,200mg Icariin for a 200lb person
  • 1,500mg Icariin for a 250lb person

Studies that use a lower dosage of Icariin (1-10mg/kg) are approximately equal to:

  • 11-110mg Icariin for a 150lb person
  • 15-150mg Icariin for a 200lb person
  • 18-180mg Icariin for a 250lb person

The human study on postmenopausal women and bone health noted that 60mg Icariin daily was active, and might serve as the lowest active dose currently known. It also appears to fall within the above range of lower active dosages which show benefits in rats.

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References
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