Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium)

Horny goat weed is a leafy plant that is native to Asia and the Mediterranean region. It is also known as Epimedium and Yin Yan Huo. It’s used for low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, pain, and other conditions.  The legend says that it got its name when a Chinese shepherd noticed his male goat’s affectionate reaction to the female goats after digesting the weed.  Horny goat weed operates as a diuretic, a tonic and a hypertensive. It increases the nitric oxide levels, which relax smooth muscle thus allowing more blood flow which explains its uses as an herbal remedy for erectile dysfunctions. It has been used to increase seminal emissions and premature ejaculation as well.

Epimedium plant

Fig 1. Epimedium plant

Horny goat weed is probably one of the most popular herbs used for the treatment of low male libido.  It is not just used as an herbal sexual stimulant for men but also used for the same purpose with women.  Epimedium is believed to be one of the most potent aphrodisiacs available for both men and women. The flavonoid content is said to stimulate sensory nerves, particularly in the genitals, and its use is said to increase sexual arousal, as well as copulation activity and testosterone levels. Testosterone stimulates centers of the brain having to do with increased sexuality in both men and women, and in several studies that were conducted, it was demonstrated that Horny Goat Weed does, in fact, enhance sexuality and quality of sex life and has been prescribed for women suffering from decreased sex drive and sexual motivation.  It was also claimed that it improved sexual performance in patients undergoing hemo-dialysis for renal failure. Although the exact way that Horny Goat Weed acts is not fully understood, it is thought that an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase supports high levels of the key cholinergic neurotransmitters that are associated with sexual arousal, and, certainly, the plant has been in use for centuries to restore sexual desire in both women and men.

Epimedium (Horny Goat Weed) appeared to have a sexual stimulatory effect on human males and may also stimulate the growth of the testes.  In addition, it was also reported that men who took this herb showed a boost in erectile function and an increase in spermatozoa production.  There was an increase in semen secretion, and Horny Goat Weed is also thought to be useful in cases of involuntary and premature ejaculation.

Horny Goat Weed

Fig 2. Horny Goat Weed

Horny Goat Weed is said to be highly effective in treating bronchitis. The herb has also been used for the relief of asthma.  There are claims that Horny Goat Weed helps to reduce fatigue, increase energy and stamina and revitalize the body.  Studies have shown that the herb helps to increase the body's metabolic rate and provides a physical boost.

Horny Goat Weed is believed to be a fine herbal tonic that improves the overall quality of life. The Chinese Academy of Sciences even recommends the regular use of Horny Goat Weed to slow the ageing process, and there are even claims that the herb helps in cases of absent-mindedness.  There is also strong scientific evidence (in current research), which would support the traditional Chinese herbal use of Horny Goat Weed, claiming that it is helpful for heart, liver and osteopathic problems (particularly inflammation associated with the lower back and knees).  There are also studies in progress, asserting that use of the herb may lower blood pressure by dilating capillaries and blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow.

Because Horny Goat Weed acts as a hormone balancer, it is believed to relieve the discomforts of menopause and also help ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Contraindications:
Currently, there are no known warnings or contraindications with the use of Horny Goat Weed Herbal Supplement, but overuse (many times the recommended dosage) may cause dizziness, thirst, nausea or nosebleed.

There are no natural food sources of horny goat weed.

  • Side effects. Most people seem to tolerate short-term use of horny goat weed fairly well, at least at the doses studied. It may cause upset stomach and dry mouth. In some, horny goat weed may result in irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, nosebleeds, and mood changes. High doses have been linked to spasms and respiratory failure.
  • Risks. Horny goat weed may not be safe in high doses or as a long-term treatment. People who have health conditions – such as immune disorders, heart or lung problems, low blood pressure, bipolar disorder, or thyroid problems -- should not use horny goat weed without their doctors’ approval.
  • Interactions. If you take any medicines or supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using horny goat weed. It could interact with drugs like blood thinners, aspirin, birth control pills, and antidepressants, treatments for immune disorders and thyroid problems, and medicines that lower blood pressure or cholesterol. Using horny goat weed with nitroglycerin can be extremely dangerous. Similar to its use with pharmaceutical erectile dysfunction medicines, mixing nitroglycerin with horny goat weed can even be fatal due to the potential for severe drops in blood pressure.

Given the possible risks, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children should not take horny goat weed.

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