Thousands of years used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the properties of Epimedium are related to the ability to increase libido and improve erectile function.

Description of Epimedium

Known as horny goat weed or the goat weed in heat because, according to legend, its properties were discovered by a shepherd who noticed that the sexual activity of his flock increased when ingesting it.

Thousands of years used in traditional Chinese medicine, Epimedium is attributed many qualities and is the most interesting for most, its ability to increase libido and improve erectile function.

In the West it is increasingly popular and is present, alone or in combination with other plants, in many of the natural supplements designed to increase sexual desire, but is it effective?

Epimedium is a plant of which several related species exist, including E. brevicornum, sagittatum and E. Koreanun.

The leaves containing fatty acids, saponins, essential oils and flavonoids (epimedins, quercetin, epimedosides, magnflorin and icariin) are used. Precisely icariin is attributed a good part of its properties and has been the subject of various investigations.

Properties of Epimedium

Properties of Epimedium related to the increase of sexual desire or libido:

  • in a study with 25 healthy boys and 13 who were taking medication for dysfunction, 60% of the former and about half of the seconds responded positively to Epimedium and manifested an improvement in their sexual activity. However, this study was in combination with four other plants (Maca, Lepidium meyenii, Mucuna pruriens and Polypodium vulgare) and also its design was not adequate.
  • also in studies with rats they have responded with an increase in sexual activity after ingesting Epimedium koreanum.

Properties of Epimedium related to the increase of testosterone levels:

In a study with nonhuman animals an increase in circulating testosterone was found and the conclusion was that it acted as mimetic testosterone.

Increase in seminal fluid

Remedy for erectile dysfunction

  • it would act by inhibiting the phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) enzyme that restricts blood flow to the penis, as do drugs for dysfunction, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra).
  • in a study in which four plants (Tribulus terrestris, Ferula hermonis, Epimedium brevicornum, Cinnamomum cassia) were evaluated, which have traditionally been attributed aphrodisiac properties, and some of their active ingredients isolated, Epimedium and its extract icaiirina were the only ones that were effective, although much less than the Sildenafil. However, the authors of the study produced six modified versions of icariin and one of them was as effective as sildenafil.
  • other research also concludes that Icariin is an inhibitor of PDE5 cGMP, they specify that it can be developed into an orally effective agent for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
  • more uses of the plant include the treatment of hypertension, osteoporosis, strengthening of bones and tendons, antirheumatic, fatigue and analgesic in back or knee pain.

The properties of Epimedium are also being studied for:

  • combat physical fatigue both physical and mental
  • improve circulation
  • help control blood pressure
  • help fight depression

Some precautions with Epimedium

In addition to knowing the properties of Epimedium we have to know some contraindications:

  • it has a hypotensive effect, and is contraindicated for people with very low blood pressure or taking medications for hypertension
  • interacts with anticoagulants
  • by slowing blood clotting, you can increase the risk of bleeding during surgeries.
  • it is not recommended during pregnancy and lactation because the available scientific evidence is insufficient.

In conclusion

If we look at its long history of positive use in Eastern medicine and the laboratory studies and non-human animals mentioned, the prospects are very promising but more research is needed on its effectiveness in people.

This plant can be combined with others such as maca, tribulus or ginseng.

Since there are still not enough studies on Epimedium it is difficult to determine during which period it can be taken without problems and therefore it is a good idea to take breaks occasional.


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