Horny Goat Weed extract supplement for better libido, benefit review and side effects, danger, use for impotence, erectile dysfunction
What is the right dosage and what are safety issues that you need to know
November 18 2015 by Ray Sahelian, M.D. author of Natural Sex Boosters, a guide to safely and effectively using natural aphrodisiacs from around the world
Horny goat weed 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 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. Horny goat weed plant has the botanical name 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 E. sagittatum, E. brevicornum, and E. koreanum. Although it has a history of traditional use for disorders of the kidneys, joints, and liver, its principle use in the western world is as an aphrodisiac and to combat fatigue. It is appropriate for use by a woman and a man. Most sex herbs work in men and women.
Human trials are very difficult to find. As of 2015, I could not find any that have been done in the past couple of years.
Horny goat weed is sold in a number of extract potencies, including various percentages of icariin and epimediosides. Common icariin percentages include 10 percent and 20 percent although I have come across concentrations of 40 to 50 percent and some suppliers report they may even have a 98% extract icariin. Twenty percent icariin seems to be a good choice for the time being.
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This plant is one of the most valued tonic herbs used by Chinese doctors. In China it is especially used for supporting healthy sexual activity. This horny goat weed extract supplement is standardized to 20% flavonoids as icariin.
Each extract pill contains:
Epimedium Sagittatum 300 mg standardized leaf extract (20% flavonoids as icariin) per pill
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Suggested use, how to take, dosage: As a dietary supplement, take one HGW pill before breakfast a few times a week. It takes a few days before you begin to notice the full benefits. As with most herbs, I recommend taking breaks from use since it is possible daily use could lead to adverse effects. One dosage option is to take it for 1 or 2 weeks on, 1 or 2 weeks off. This plant has been used in Asia for centuries as a natural remedy for various medical conditions, however no long term human research is has been done by doctors in USA or Europe to indicate safety and side effect profile, particularly now that it is available in high extract potencies of concentrated icariin.
Composition of the herb, chemicals and substances in the plant
Horny goat weed herb has a number of substances 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. Icariin appears to be the primary substance that has some PDE5 inhibiting properties.
Q. Does horny goat weed’s active ingredient icariin or any other part act as a pde5 inhibitor and if so is there any chance of getting eye blindness from taking HGW?
A. I have not seen any evidence yet that taking this herb orally leads to harm to the eyes.
Research, studies, clinical trials
Mario Dell'Agli, a researcher at the University of Milan, has found that icariin has the potential for blocking an erection-inhibiting enzyme similar to Viagra. Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, is a common condition worldwide, and drugs like Pfizer Inc's Viagra or sildenafil, Eli Lilly and Co's Cialis or tadalafil, and Bayer AG's Levitra or vardenafil, work by increasing blood flow to the genitals. The medicines inhibit an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5. Because icariin also targets the enzyme, it may have fewer side effects than Viagra, according to Mario Dell'Agli.
Combining with other aphrodisiac plants and natural substancesThus far I have combined it with several herbs including avena sativa, yohimbe, maca, mucuna pruriens, ginseng, and tribulus and have not found any significant side effects when the dosages have been kept very low.
Q. I recently tried maca, yohimbe and horny goat weed separately and together and they seem to work. Could you suggest the best combination and strength and also how often for best results?
A. Each of these herbs comes in different extract potencies and each manufacturer's product is different than another's, so it is not easy to suggest particular dosages. Plus, different people respond differently to the same dosage and combination. The best way to learn is to try each separately for a week or so and then combine them in lower dosages. As a general rule using them about 2 or 3 days a week seems reasonable for most people.
Prescription drug and medication interactions, safety of combining with pharmaceuticalsAlmost all herbs used for sexual enhancement have not been tested in combination with prescription medications. As a general rule, if your doctor approves, you can start with half of a capsule for a few days and gradually increase the dosage if no side effects are noticed. Each person has a different response to herbal supplements and it is not easy to predict what benefits and adverse reactions a person will experience when taking an herbal preparation or combining it with medications.
Molecules. 2013. Herb-drug interaction of Epimedium sagittatum maxim extract on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil in rats. HGW is one of the herbs used to treat erectile dysfunction in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor used to treat erectile dysfunction in Western Medicine. This study evaluates the herbal-drug interaction of Epimedium sagittatum extract on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil in rats by ultra-performance liquid chromatography. The rat plasma was sampled from each anesthetized rat after pretreatment with 3-days Epimedium sagittatum extract (1/2 g/kg/day) and intravenous injection with sildenafil (10/30 mg/kg). The pharmacokinetic data demonstrate that the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) of sildenafil (10 mg/kg) was significantly decreased in groups that received a high dose of horny goat weed extract. In conclusion, the study demonstrates that there was significant herb-drug interaction of HGW on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil at low and high daily doses, suggesting co-administration use of Epimedium sagittatum extract and sildenafil in clinical practice should be prevented due to possible herb-drug interactions.
Studies and clinical trials, effectiveness
Very little research has been published in the Western medical literature regarding this aphrodisiac plant. Our Chinese study investigated the therapeutic effect of epimedium sagittatum on 22 patients with chronic renal failure on hemodialysis. The herb had a sex enhancing effect and improved their quality of life. Dept. of Nephrology, General Hospital of PLA, Beijing. 1995.
Mechanism of action, how it works
The exact way that horny goat weed works remains unclear. Animal studies have shown that it may influence levels of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine and reduce cortisol levels. The leaves contain a variety of flavonoids (one prominent one is icariin), sterols and an alkaloid called magnaflorine. Its quite possible HGW influences several aspects of human sexual biochemistry.
Side effects, safety, risks, and warning, overdosage, danger, negative reactions, overdose
Side effects from horny goat weed are likely with high dosage use. It has not been available long enough in western countries for us to have a good understanding of its potential side effects when misused. However, there is a possibility that very high doses - just like many herbs that have a stimulating nature - can cause heart rhythm disturbances or an increase in heart rate. A more common adverse reaction is insomnia when used in high doses. Potential side effects of overdosage or when combined with high amounts of other aphrodisiac herbs would include increased body temperature, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, heart rhythm problems, and initial increase in energy followed by fatigue. It does not appear to be a strong blood thinner.
Q. You mention that you do not know of any evidence that icariin affects the eyes. I guess it does not negatively affect the ears either? Both can be affected by the brand name PDE5 inhibitors, I believe it states in the literature. Why do you think this is so since icariin is a PDE5 inhibitor?
A. I am not sure but this is a good question.
I am 52 years old with a slightly enlarged prostate. I was wondering if there are potential long-term effects that might increase my risk of prostate cancer. My present PSA level is 4 (which is normal for me). A biopsy indicated no presence of cancer and I am in excellent health. My BPH symptoms are relatively minor.
Long term human studies are not available so we really don't know if it affects the prostate gland or a PSA test, and whether it affects in a positive or negative way. Most people do not need to take it every day, anyway.
Heart disease or on blood pressure meds or heart medications
How will horny goat weed react to heart medication that I take that being Toprol XL 200 mg and Plavix 75 mg and Altace10 mg?
I don't suggest the use of sex herbs in those who are on heart medications since these aphrodisiac herbs have a tendency to speed heart rate and some may raise blood pressure. If your doctor knows your condition well and feels comfortable having you start on a low dose, that could be appropriate.
Chinese herb medicine, horny goat weed, was used to treat animal models of chronic renal insufficiency induced in Wistar rats with 7/8 nephrectomy. The results showed: it decreased significantly the level of BUN and serum creatinine in the rats. The herb inhibited the hypertrophy of glomeruli in the rats and inhibited deposition of IgG, C3, Fib and FN along the glomerular capillary walls in these rats. Effects of Epimedium sagittatum on immunopathology and extracellular matrices in rats with chronic renal insufficiency. Zhonghua Nei Ke Za Zhi 1994.
Can it cause the penis to grow in size? It does not make the penis grow larger that it would normally under ideal arousal conditions.
Does it increase testosterone levels? Unlikely, but I have not seen clinical trials evaluating its influence on androgens or other hormone levels.
I have not come across any indication that this herb has addictive potential.
Horny goat weed is, in fact, likely to make enhance your sexuality. Most users will notice a mild to moderate effect on the third or fourth day of use. I find this herb is similar in benefit to other sexual enhancing herbs, such as tribulus and mucuna.
Do you know of an independent and fair horny goat weed review site?
I have not come across such websites that review HGW side effects and benefits in an honest manner regarding the differences between the dozens of brands available for sale either solo or combined with other sex herbs.