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Traditional Indications

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Horny Goat Weed is known as Yin Yang Huo 淫羊藿. Yin Yang Huo is sweet, pungent and warm enters the Kidney and Liver channels to tonify and warm Kidney Yang, strengthen tendons and bones, dispel Wind-Damp. (1)

Horny goat weed is a reputed aphrodisiac. According to legend, this property was discovered by a Chinese goat herder who noticed sexual activity in his flock after they ate the weed.

Pharmacognosy

In the East, many herbal tonics and preparations are used to assist the aging male improve his sexual drive or ability to perform penetrative sex by increasing sexual stimulation, erectile, ejaculatory, orgasmic and other responses for sexual function and satisfaction. (2)

The active constituent in Epimedium is icariin. Icariin is purported to work by increasing levels of nitric oxide, which relax smooth muscle. Like sildenafil (Viagra), icariin, the active compound in Epimedium, inhibits the activity of PDE-5. Horny Goat weed is a natural phosphodiesterase inhibitor Plant extracts traditionally used for male impotence were tested for PDE5 Inhibition. Only icariin, the compound in Horny Goat Weed, proved to be a potent PDE5 inhibitor. (3)

1. House YY. Yin Yang Huo 2019.
2. Lim PHC. Asian herbals and aphrodisiacs used for managing ED. Translational andrology and urology. 2017;6(2):167-75.
3. Dell’Agli M, Galli GV, Dal Cero E, Belluti F, Matera R, Zironi E, et al. Potent Inhibition of Human Phosphodiesterase-5 by Icariin Derivatives. Journal of Natural Products. 2008;71(9):1513-7.