Botanical Name: Epimedium grandiflorum
Pharmaceutical Name: Herba Epimedii
Pinyin: Yin yang huo
Common Name: Horny Goat Weed
Functions and Uses: kidney yang tonic, removes dampness, dispels wind,
strengthens tendons and bones, increases sex drive and fertility, increases sperm
production, impotence, seminal emission, urinary incontinence, hypotensive,
enhances immunity, low back pain, arthritis, cold or numb extremities, asthma,
bronchitis, expectorant, controls cough, absentmindedness
Summary: Epimedium is yet another chinese herb that has a long history of use
that is being extensively studied. These modern day scientific studies are
confirming the historical uses and are shedding light on why Epimedium acts as it
does. The most popular reason for using Epimedium is for its sexually stimulating
action. The herb advertises itself for this purpose with its nickname of "horny goat
weed." Nobody seems to question what it's used for when they hear that name.
Pharmacological and animal studies show that the herb increases sperm
production, benefits erection capability, stimulates sensory nerves, has an
androgenic effect on the testes and prostate, and increases circulating levels of
22 patients with chronic renal (kidney) failure were treated with epimedium. These
patients experienced therapeutic effects on sexual disorder as well as immune
Much research has been done on icariin, one of the main compounds found in
Epimedium that is believed to be largely responsible for its sexual tonic actions. Icariin stimulates the nerves throughout the body, particularly in the genital region. It has been shown to relax the corpus cavernosum(penile tissue) from rabbits in vitro. In rats icariin improved the condition of reproductive organs and enhanced erectile function. Icariin also protected penile cavernosal smooth muscle cells from cell death due to induced damage. It is also a cGMP-specific PDE5 inhibitor that enhances and sustains the erection of genital tissue. Epimedium is useful for both men and women. It stimulates the female just as well as the men and can be used for irregular menstruation, low sex drive, orgasm dysfunction, infertility, menopause, low hormone levels, bone strengthening, and protection from bone loss in older age.
Laboratory studies also show icariin to have anti-cancer abilities. Icariin also
helps protect the liver from toxicity. Flavonoids in epimedium have shown
The sexual tonic properties of epimedium have made it more popular in the west in recent years, but there are much more health promoting properties of this herb that should not be overlooked. The herb is hypotensive; it decreases blood pressure and increases circulation to the heart, brain, genitals, and the rest of the body by dilatingcoronary blood vessels, capillaries, and other large blood vessels. It can help treat cold, numb, or weak extremities. It can be used to remedy absentmindedness by flooding the brain with blood.
It is believed that epimedium can strengthen and protect the bones. The
department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong conducted a 24-month randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial that found epimedium-derived phytoestrogen flavonoids to exert beneficial effects on preventing bone loss in late post menopausal women. More studies found that icariine stimulates the proliferation of human osteoblasts in vitro. Osteoblasts are cells that are responsible for bone growth. Two species of Epimedium have been found to improve the growth of cartilage and the proliferation of cartilage cells in vitro.
Epimedium has shown anti-viral activity and helps protect the heart.
Epimedium also has immune strengthening effects. It has been shown to
promote the phagocytic activity of the reticuloendothelial system in mice and has a stimulatory effect on macrophages. It can help rebuild immune responses inimmune-compromised individuals and enhance immunity in healthy individuals. It has helped retard immunosenescence (age-related immune deficiency) in aged rats. Epimedium flavonoids suppressed excessive apoptosis (cell death) of T lymphocyte cells. Epimedium has also shown strong anti-HIV activity.
Epimedium is a tonic to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It is a good herb to include in a program to rejuvenate neuro-endocrine function and help block future stress responses in the body. Due to its ability to enhance the immune system and rejuvenate neuro-endocrine function, Epimedium possesses an antidepressant property.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences recommends the regular use of Epimedium to slow the aging process and improve the overall quality of life. It should be noted that as with most Chinese tonic herbs Epimedium is typically not taken by itself but combined with other tonic herbs to create a balanced formula.