herb extract side effects and
sexual benefits, information, aphrodisiac benefits and properties by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 26 2014
Epimedium is a pungent
ornamental herb found in Asia and the Mediterranean. The Chinese call it Yin Yang Huo,
which loosely means "licentious goat plant." Legend has it that the name
horny goat weed came
from a herder who noticed his goats becoming more sexually active after eating the plant.
Supplement companies have adopted the provocative name by which it is known in the U.S.
Epimedium is a genus of about 52 species in the family Berberidaceae, which also
known as Rowdy Lamb Herb, Xianlinpi, Barrenwort, Bishop's Hat, Fairy Wings, and
Yangheye or Yin Yang Huo. Many plants have been used for sexual dysfunction and
osteoporosis in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Horny goat weed was named epimedium because it is similar to a plant found in the ancient Asian kingdom of Media, now a part of Iran. Epimedium is a genus of many related plant species and some are used for medicinal purposes, including Epimedium sagittatum, brevicornum, grandiflorum, and koreanum. Although this herb has a history of traditional use for disorders of the kidneys, joints, and liver, its principle use in the United States is as an aphrodisiac and to combat fatigue.
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Epimedium sagittatum is one of the most valued tonics of Chinese herbalism. In China it is especially used for supporting healthy sexual activity.
Each Horny Goat Weed tablet contains:
Epimedium Sagittatum 300 mg (20% flavonoids as icariin)
The potent herbal extracts in this sex pill include ashwagandha, catuaba, cnidium, epimedium extract, Maca, Muira puama, Passion flower, Tongkat Ali, Tribulus terrestris extract, and Yohimbe bark.
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What the research says regarding sexual enhancement
Very little human research has been published in the Western medical literature regarding this plant. Our Chinese study investigated the therapeutic effect of epimedium sagittatum on 22 patients with chronic renal failure on hemodialysis. Twelve patients with hemodialysis were served as controls. The herb had a sex enhancing effect and improved their quality of life.
Effect of Epimedium sagittatum on quality of life and cellular immunity in patients of hemodialysis maintenance
Dept. of Nephrology, General Hospital of PLA, Beijing. 1995
Our previous study had demonstrated that Epimedium Sagittatum exerted immuno-enhancing effect on the animal model of chronic renal insufficiency. In present study, we investigated the therapeutic effect on patients of hemodialysis maintenance. 22 cases of regular hemodialytic patients were treated with Epimedium Sagittatum in the form of decoction. The herb had sexual potentiation effect and improved the quality of life in the patients of chronic renal failure with regular hemodialysis. Interleukin 2 (IL-2) activity of peripheral blood monocytes stimulated by PHA was increased significantly in the treated patients. It was suggested that this herb had therapeutic effect on sexual disorder and immunologic inadequacy in the patients of chronic renal failure undergoing hemodialysis.
Effects of icariin on cGMP-specific PDE5 and cAMP-specific PDE4 activities.
Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. 2004.
PDE5 was isolated from the human platelet and PDE4 from the rat liver tissue. Icariin and papaverine showed dose-dependent inhibitory effects on PDE5 and PDE4 activities. Icariin is a cGMP-specific PDE5 inhibitor that may be developed into an oral effective agent for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Today I received a letter claiming that epimedium extract
to be 3 times more effective in restoring erections and increasing libido
levels, and is stronger than yohimbine hydrochloride. Is this true, or just
another false claim?
We have not seen any human studies that have compared them. Furthermore, there are different extract potencies of each herb which makes comparisons more complicated.
Experimental study on effect of epimedium flavonoids in protecting telomere length of senescence cells HU
Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2004.
To investigate the mechanism of senescence delay of human diploid fibroblast (2BS) and protecting telomere length by epimedium flavonoids. These flavonoids were used to treat the 2BS. In senescent human fibroblasts 2BS cells, p16 gene mRNA expression increased, content of phosphorated Rb protein decreased and the telomere length of 2BS shortened, Epimedium flavonoids might delay the aging of cells through inhibiting the p16 gene expression, promoting the production of phosphorated Rb protein and to protect the length of telomere, but not activating the telomerase.
Influence on bone
Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2011. Effects of total flavonoids of Epimedium sagittatum on the mRNA expression of the estrogen receptor α and β in hypothalamus and hippocampus in ovariectomized rats. To explore the effect of total flavonoids of Epimedium sagittatum (TFE) on the mRNA expressions of the estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and estrogen receptor beta(ERβ) in hippocampus and hypothalamus in ovariectomized (OVX) Sprague-Dawley(SD) rats, and the mechanism of TFE against postmenopausal osteoporosis. Forty-eight female SD rats,aged 10-11 months old, were randomly divided into 4 groups: a sham group, an ovariectomy group (rats were bilaterally ovariectomized), a TFE group, and a 17β-estradiol group (rats were fed with TFE and 17β-estradiol for 4 months, respectively). The RT-PCR was performed to determine the mRNA expression of ERα and ERβ in hypothalamus and hippocampus. Serum estradiol level, bone mineral density (BMD) of vertebra,wet weight of uterus, and the mRNA expressions of ERα and ERβ in hypothalamus and hippocampus were markedly decreased in OVX rats, all of which were reversed by 17β-estradiol treatment except the mRNA expression of ERβ. Similar results were achieved by TFE treatment except the wet weight of uterus. TFE can improve BMD of vertebra in the OVX rats without side effects on the uterus. The mechanism may be related to increasing the mRNA expressions of ERα and ERβ in hypothalamus and hippocampus.
2013. A systematic review of the efficacy and pharmacological profile of Herba
Epimedii in osteoporosis therapy. The purpose of this systematic review is to
assess the efficacy and pharmacological profiles of Herba Epimedii in
osteoporosis therapy. Four databases were extensively retrieved that include two
Chinese electronic databases (VIP Information and CNKI) and two English
electronic databases (CA and MEDLINE). Herba Epimedii has been an important
traditional herbal medicine for centuries in China and other Asian countries.
Recently, quite a few pharmacological effects of Herba Epimedii, its extracts
and active components have been identified that include improving bone health
and cardiovascular function, regulating hormone level, modulating immunological
function, and inhibiting tumor growth. The anti-osteoporosis activity of Herba
Epimedii and its extracts have attracted world-wide attention. The literature
search has revealed that a lot of studies have recently been carried out related
to the bone-strengthening activity of Herba Epimedii and some of its active
compounds, such as total flavonoids and icariin. Pharmacokinetic and toxicity
studies have confirmed the efficacy and safety of Herba Epimedii and its most
abundant active component icariin, while only a few authors have reviewed the
anti-osteoporosis properties of the plants.
Mechanism of action
The exact way that epimedium works as an Erection Enhancer remains unclear. Animal studies have shown that it may influence levels of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine and reduce cortisol levels. Its quite possible epimedium sagittatum influences several aspects of human sexual biochemistry. Icariin is thought to help with erectile function.
effects, risk, danger
Very high doses of epimedium can cause side effects of overstimulation, rapid heart beat, and perhaps heart palpitations.
I was recently taking a testosterone
booster that also contains epidmedium and a horny goat weed supplement
not knowing they are both the same plant. As a result; I may have
experienced overstimulation that has not subsided after I discontinued
taking the epimedium supplement. it's been a few months and I have taken a
few supplements containing epidmedium but nothing on a regular basis on a
few weekends here and there...and yet I'm still experiencing some over
stimulation. Is it possible that it has cause permanent damage or has made me
extremely sensitive to the supplement.
Yes, taking high doses of certain herbs, such as epimedium saggitatum, can cause overstimulation. It is possible that your body has become very sensitive to this herb, and hence taking a long break, using smaller amounts and less frequently is a good option.
Most users will notice a mild to moderate sexual effect on the third or fourth day of use. Epimedium is sold in various extract potencies, including various percentages of icariin and epimediosides. For instance you can find it sold by herb and ingredient suppliers as 5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, and 60 percent icariin.
Epimedium herb has a number of ingredients including prenylated flavonol glycosides, ikarisoside A, icarisid II, epimedoside A, icariin, epimedin B, yinyanghuo A - E, and epimedokoreanoside. Flavonoids include chrysoeriol, quercetin, apigenin, kaempferol, and luteolin. The leaves contain a variety of flavonoids, sterols and an alkaloid called magnaflorine.
Research on variation regularity of five main flavonoids
contents in Epimedium and processed Epimedium
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2009.
To research on the variation regularity of the five main flavonoids contents in Epimedium. The contents of Epimedin A, Epimedin B, Epimedin C, Icariin and Baohuoside I in Epimedium and processed herb were determined, respectively. There were varieties in the contents of Epimedin A, Epimedin B, Epimedin C, Icariin and Baohuoside in Epimedium and processed Epimedium. There were different variety tendencies in different species and different batches. The variety tendencies of the contents of five main flavonoids depend on the processing technology.
I'm female that wondering if I can take the above herb to increase my libido, since most sites only talks about helping a man on his erection.
A woman could also benefit from this herb.
Species of the plant
Comment on main species of herba epimedii
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2003.
Seven species of Epimedium having broad distribution. According the area of their distribution, they were named Epimedium sagittatum, brevicornu, acuminatum, koreanum, pubescens, leptorrhizum and wushanens. Each distribution in detail and icariin and likewise compounds contents of these 7 species were provided. Other 8 Epimedium species much used were proposed. Medicinal characters 15 species were provided in this paper. On the basis of distribution character, resource quantity and growing with other species mingled, it is suggested that 4 main production or purchasing districts in China be divided. The most important district is northeastern district, where only Epimedium koreanum grows there, with the best quality. Northwestern and northern district is the second one, where Epimedium brevicornu mainly grows with much stable quality. Then it is eastern and southern district, where Epimedium sagittatum grows with the largest quantity but unstable quality. Southwestern district is the last one, mingle species complex and identification important. In Sichuan province, E. acuminatum and E. pubescens are main species, with other 12 species growing there. In Guizhou province, Epimedium acuminatum, E leptorrhizum and E. wushanense are main species, other 7 species growing there and Epimedium leptorrhizum with poor quality.
Quality testing in China
Research on quality of Epimedium extract in market
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2007. Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100094, China.
To review the quality of Epimedium extract in the market. The contents of icariin, epimedin C, sagittatoside B and total flavonoids in Epimedium extracts sold in the market were assayed: The contents of icariin in most of the extracts are closely similar with the ones labeled by the companies. The contents of epimedin C, sagittatoside B and total flavonoids were different in the samples with the same content of icariin. The difference of extracts quality mainly comes from the difference of materials. So we suggest that Epimedium extract product should be labeled the origin of materials, and assayed with more compound contents, to ensure the quality stabilization.
I am a sports nutritionist psychologist and training strength and conditioning specialist and i would like your advice for a client for supplementation. Yourself being well educated and having experience with the substances seem like a reliable source of information. A client of mine takes a statin drug for high cholesterol, i am not certain of the drug (although i could ask if it would help) this client has quite a lot of fat on the abdomen and chest but little on the limbs which i think indicates androgen and glucocorticoid imbalances and i think that epimedium would be a good method of supplementation to increase testosterone, reduce estrogen and balance the stress hormones. I am aware of the effects of taking too much, i was quite worried by a rapid heartbeat when it happened to me but i suspected the epimedium herbal preodut and was fortunate enough to find your articles when i researched it. I find 1 gram a day to be a good dosage for myself, with 2 sometimes causing problems and sometimes not. So i would propose a dose of 1g/d perhaps with 500mg for first few days. I however, do not have a clue as to the mechanisms of these statins or whether epimedium may be contraindicated in this case. The use of epimedium herb is partially because it is much easier and cheaper for me to source, tribulus terrestris is more expensive. The product i get is listed at 20% icarins if that is of any use to you. I'm grateful for any input, I gave quite a lot of information because i would be interested on any other thoughts you have on the matter.
Rather than focusing on a particular herb to address metabolic syndrome, one should rather try lifestyles changes with diet and exercise which are much more effective and appropriate.