Health Benefits of Horny goat weed

Horny goat weed

Horny goat weed has been viewed as a natural alternative to Viagra, and many species of Epimedium are said to possess aphrodisiac properties, and is said to have got its name from a Chinese goat herder who notice that his goats became more 'frisky' with the lady goats after eating the plant. In fact studies have indicated to increase vitality, particularly the libido and male sexual vitality, although it also possesses some other health benefits in its effect on dementia and osteoporosis.

The term 'horny' is used in the colloquial sense, and has nothing to do with the shape of the plant, the flowers of which are star-shaped. In fact the Chinese name for it means 'licentious goat weed', making the English translation quite clear.

The main ingredient in horney goat weed is icariin, a flavonoid glycoside that acts as a PDE5 inhibitor. Others include the similarly named, but totally different chemical, icaritin, and also many other that will be discussed later. It is icariin on which we shall focus for the time being. Since this is central to its effect on erectile dysfunction, some time will be spent on explaining what PDE5 inhibitors do.

cGMP (Cyclic guanosine monophosphate) is a chemical that relaxes smooth muscle tissue, including the vascular smooth muscles in blood vessels. This can lead to the dilation, or increase in size, of blood vessels and increased blood flow. The corpus cavernosum of the penis is a spongy area that runs the full length of the penis, and contains many blood vessels that can be dilated through the action of cGMP and allow the increased blood flow to create an erection.

PDE5 (phosphodiesterase type 5) is an enzyme that can degrade cGMP and prevent the relaxation of these blood vessels, and so prevent them from dilating. A PDE5 inhibitor, such as icariin, prevents the PDE5 from degrading cGMP, and so allow a normal erection. Sidenafil, commonly known as Viagra, is a similar PDE5 inhibitor and works in the same way as icariin. Hence, the effect of Viagra is not to create an unnatural erection, but in fact to allow the cGMP to do its natural work by preventing the phosphodiesterase from stopping it doing so.

This is just one of the effects of horny goat weed: it is a more natural PDE5 inhibitor than Viagra is. It is also more specific than Sidenfil, and does not interfere with any of the other phosphodiesterases that are essential for other purposes. However, its effects do not stop there, because icariin possesses other properties, and is also only one of the many components of epimedium that can increase vitality.

Among these are a number of flavonoids in addition to icariin, sterols and the isoquinoline alkaloid magnaflorine, that possesses antioxidant properties and reduces LDL cholesterol. The exact mechanism by which horny goat weed works to increase sexual desire is unknown, but it is believed that it inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinetsrase (AChE). Cholinergic synapses are the spaces between brain cells that allow electrical impulses to be transmitted, and are an essential component of neuromuscular system response to stimulation.

AChE can stop these from working properly, and prevent neurotransmitters from effectively allowing sexual arousal. Horny goat weed can inhibit the activity of this enzyme and allow the neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine to do their proper job in allowing sexual arousal to occur. This, again, is a natural and not a chemical solution. It has also been found to reduce cortisol levels that cause stress which also reduces sexual desire.

The effect of Epimedium on smooth muscles can also aid those suffering from pulmonary hypertension, in which the small blood vessels in the lungs become too narrow to be effective in allowing the transfer between oxygen and carbon dioxide. PDE5 inhibitors can help these blood vessels to relax and so be more easily dilated in the same way as those in the corpus cavernosum. Once dilated, they are able to carry more blood to and from the lungs and allow the reoxygenation process to continue smoothly.

Research has also discovered the possibility of horny goat weed possessing monoamine-oxidase inhibition properties. Monoamine oxidase enzymes can deaminate hormones such as dopamine, and can significantly reduce the production of testosterone. The inhibitor prevents this happening, and leads to elevated levels of dopamine, and also of serotonin and noradrenaline. Dopamine encourages the pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone that in turn promotes the production of testosterone by the testes.

Another property of horny goat weed is that it can protect against the toxin beta-Amyloid, a protein that damages DNA in the brain, causing the death of brain cells and the accumulation of dead cells in your brain. This in turn leads to dementia and potentially Alzheimer's disease. The use of Horny goat weed is being studied closely in relation to this property. The active ingredient here is icaritin (not to be confused with icariin)

Epimedium also has implications in the treatment of the cartilage and bone damage that occurs with arthritis and osteoporosis. It is possible that this is connected with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of magnaflorine, and icariin has been found to have bone-healing properties. It is known that damaged cartilage treated with horney goat weed displayed signs of growth and regeneration when compared to a placebo.

However, the most popular use of horny goat weed is in its effect on the libido and erectile dysfunction. The effect on the libido and sexual desire works equally well for men and women, and it is a preferred natural remedy to synthetic equivalents such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. The added benefits of the natural product render epimedium the preferred and safest solution for many people.

6 Benefits of Horny Goat Weed

 

1. Considered a Natural Aphrodisiac 

Horny goat weed may be able to help normalize cortisol levels and reduce some of the negative effects of stress on the body, which can include lowered sex drive, mental fatigue and various problems with hormonal balance or sexual performance. By helping to normalize testosterone and estrogen levels, it may be useful for combatting symptoms like low energy, involuntary ejaculation and vaginal dryness. 

Icariin is also a vasodilator, helping to increase blood flow, and has some anti-inflammatory abilities. Another effect that research suggests icariin may have is inhibiting an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which has effects on neurotransmitter synapses and various neuromuscular functions. Use of icariin has been associated with positive changes in body composition — such as increased muscle mass, strength and bone growth — which can enhance performance, energy and even confidence.

2. May Help Treat Erectile Dysfunction

As mentioned above, one suspected mechanism of action of horny goat weed when it comes to treating ED is helping to increase circulation in blood vessels connecting the penis — thus, operating as an erectogenic and improving erectile function.

After sexual stimulation, nitric oxide (NO) is released in order to dilate the blood vessels of the corpus cavernosum (tissue that forms the penis) in order to produce an erection. While this is happening a compound called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) accumulates, which can be broken down by the substance PDE5.  Because icariin has the ability to stop PDE5 from doing this, it boosts nitric oxide’s effects even more, helping to sustain an erection.

In one study involving rats, when icariin was administered as a daily supplement to healthy 12-week-old rats that had undergone cavernous nerve crush injury to the genital area, supplementation significantly improved penile functional outcomes compared to the control group. In the group treated with icariin, increased nitric oxide levels and smooth muscle effects were observed that led to reduced ED symptoms caused by nerve damage.

3. May Increase Testosterone Levels

Icariin has been shown to have natural testosterone-mimicking properties, one reason it helps to improve sexual desire, strength and even athletic performance. In one study involving rats that were given icariin extract, researchers found that icariin improved the overall condition of reproductive organs and increased the circulating levels of testosterone compared to the rats that were not given the extract.  More studies are needed to see if it will prove to be a testosterone booster for humans.

 

4. Can Help Balance Hormones During or After Menopause

In TCM, Yin Yang Huo is considered to help promote “yin” energy, restoring energy levels and balance. With it’s “spicy, sweet and warm” properties, it’s helpful for people who are feeling fatigued or “yin deficient,” especially those going through hormonal changes such as menopause.

Because prenylflavonoids act as phytoestrogens, they have been shown in some studies to help increase estrogen levels and reduce symptoms of menopause in females. Thus, horny goat weed can be considered an estrogenic which contains many different prenylflavonoid compounds that have been associated with decreased symptoms of menopause, such as low libido and bone loss, with the strongest being icariin.

5. Can Help Increase Muscle Strength

In some studies icariin has had positive effects on lean muscle production. Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine states “ICA (icariin) may have neurotrophic effects in addition to known phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibiting effects.” Neurotrophins are types of proteins that help with development, growth and function of neurons. It’s suspected that icariin helps the body secrete proteins that allow cells to grow and contribute to tissue repair.

It’s not uncommon for those looking to “bulk up” and put on muscle mass, such as athletes and body builders, to use icariin as an active ingredient in supplements. Its use has also been linked with improved recovery following exercise and better athletic performance. Although it isn’t considered to be a stimulant and doesn’t work the same way that something like caffeine does, some find that taking supplements containing icariin can help improve their strength, stamina and endurance.

6. May Help Improve Bone Health

Research done by the Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Tokyo found evidence that horny goat weed has positive effects on restoring bone density and therefore may help prevent symptoms related to osteoporosis, such as fractures or decreased bone density of the spine. Findings from animal studies done at the university showed that “icariin is a strong candidate for an osteogenic compound for use in bone tissue engineering.” The researchers observed significant new bone formation in rats treated with icariin after four weeks, and further increases in bone thickness after six weeks.

Similar research conducted at the Institute of Orthopaedics Center of Lanzhou General Hospital in China showed evidence that icariin can help “prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone density and bone formation, decreasing bone resorption and improving microstructure of bone.” Other studies have found that taking horny goat weed extract for 24 months helped to stop bone loss of the spine and hips in post-menopausal women.

 

Potential Horny Goat Weed Side Effects

Because horny goat weed is a herbal remedy and not a medication, the quality of icariin or epimedium supplements on the market is not tightly controlled by the FDA. Always purchase herbal products from a reputable company and read ingredient labels to ensure you’re getting the correct product. When taken in high dosages there are some possible side effects of epimedium. While it’s usually well-tolerated, these include temporary symptoms such as increased thirst, dizziness, nausea and nosebleed.

According to TCM herbal practitioners, there are no known drug interactions with epimedium. This  makes it generally safe for most adults to consume. However, because it can affect hormone levels, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use horny goat weed without speaking with a doctor.

For anyone with a history of cancer, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease or other serious health problems such as diabetes that require medication to control symptoms, always speak with a doctor before starting any new herbal treatment. Those with bleeding disorders or who are healing from surgery should also not take epimedium supplements, as they can interfere with circulation and blood clotting.

  Horny goat weed bottle  
90 capsules
$21.00
Suggested dosage
Take one three times daily
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