Horny Goat Weed

We’ve all seen it  in supplements, but how many of you know what horny goat weed really is?  In our article on this common ingredient we want to dive into any and all uses of this popular ingredient.

What Is Horny Goat Weed?

Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium) is a flowering plant from the family Berberidaceae of the genus Epimedium. There are currently 65 species, of which the vast majority are indigenous to China. A small number grow in other part of the Asian continent with just a few that grow in the Mediterranean region.

Designations And Variants of Horny Goat Weed

  • Common: Horny Goat Weed
  • Genus: Epimedium
  • Other: Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat, Fairy Wings or Ying Yang Huo

Plant Description

Horny Goat Weed is a herbaceous perennial (deciduous or evergreen hardy perennials). These species grow from underground rhizomes. The majority of Epimedium species develop four quadrant flower heads in the spring that have a “spider-like” appearance. However, their growth habits can be quite variable. Some have leaves that grow from single stems while others grow in bunches. Since the leaves are annual, this deciduous plant is an evergreen.

Areas Of Cultivation

Despite the majority of Horny Goat Weed species being endemic of Asia, there are species being cultivated in Western parts of the world. Now, an array of emerging Chinese Epimedium species are being cultived in the west. Many of these species have only just bene discovered. Some of these still have not been named.
Among the Epimedium species, there are also hybrids. Older cultivated Japanese hybrids have pushed the boundaries of the genus. There are few plant genera with new species discovered at such a dramatic rate.

Epimedium Taxonomy

In 1873, Carl Linneaus provided the genus name Epimedium and also the name of the European species, E. alpinum. There are currently 65 accepted species of Epimedium. Epimedium is a derivative of the Greek work “epimedion.” It is unclear what its name originally meant.

There are a few hybrid species that are cultivated in gardens around the world, including:

  • Epimedium cantabrigiense – Cross between E. alpinum and E. pubigerum
  • Epimedium perralchicum – Cross between E. perralderianum and E. pinnatum subsp. colchicum
  • Epimedium rubrum – Cross between E. alpinum and E. grandiflorum
  • Epimedium versicolor – Cross between E. grandiflorum and E. pinnatum subsp. colchicum
  • Epimedium warleyense – Cross between E. alpinum and E. pinnatum subsp. colchicum
  • Epimedium youngianum – Cross between E. diphyllum and E. grandiflorum

Medicinal Uses

Epimedium has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese medicine has long used this herb for various ailments. Today, it is also used in many supplements.

Erectile Dysfunction

Supplements are made with Horny Goat Weed as a sole ingredient, but also blended with other ingredients. Traditionally, Chinese Medicine used species of Epimedium for impotence, erectile dysfunction and as an aphrodisiac.  Today we see Horny Goat Weed used in a number of popular all natural male enhancement products.
Today, research shows that Epidemium herbs contains icariin. This is a PDE5 inhibitor that works similarly to sildenafil (Viagra). It may provide improved ejaculation control, help achieve erections and potential increase penis size (temporarily).
Icariin increases nitric oxide levels during arousal. This causes the smooth muscle tissues, like vascular tissue, to relax. As this occurs, blood vessels in the entire body expand and circulation is improved. This can send more blood to the penis and improve arousal. This also can increase growth hormones and testosterone, which are very beneficial to male enhancement.

Osteoporosis Treatment

Studies reveal that icariin in Epimedium acts as a stimulation catalyst for osteoblast activity in the tissues of the bone. Osteoblast are the cells responsible for the synthesis of bones. They help develop crosslinks of collagen and proteins to improve the strength and density of bone tissue.

Todd Ruggets
Todd Ruggets

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