Men’s Health: Horny Goat Weed

april-_3-mh.jpgAn ancient Chinese herb grown in the wild is considered the ‘best sexual tonic’ for its effects on both men’s health and men’s (and women’s!) libido.

According to Chinese legends, almost 2,000 years ago there was a goat herder tending his flocks in the mountains who noticed that whenever his animals ate the leaves of a certain shrubby herb they became much more sexually active. Ever since that time, traditional Chinese medical practice has used epimedium or ‘Horny Goat Weed‘ to stimulate sexual vigor in both sexes and used it for men’s health to treat erectile dysfunction (ED). Chinese doctors combine it with other herbs to combat hardening of the arteries, alleviate discomfort in menopause and to prevent osteoporosis. It is also claimed to help stroke victims recover much more quickly.

Horny Goat Weed (epimedium) is not currently cultivated since this short, leafy herbaceous shrub grows wild at high elevations, all over the mountains of China. Only the leaves are harvested, never the roots, so that it replenishes itself and grows back within months after being hand-picked. Growing naturally in the wild at higher altitudes, it remains organic and free from pollutants or chemical sprays.

This time-tested aphrodisiac continues to play a role in Chinese medicine and has now begun to gain popularity in the western world. Horny Goat Weed may have estrogen-inhibiting properties from several of its flavonoids and has been shown to be effective in improving sex drive in randomized clinical trials.

The leaves contain sterols, polysaccharides, various flavonoids and magnaflorine. The primary active ingredient seems to be a flavonoid called ‘icariin.’ This active compound works similarly to erectile medications, by inhibiting the activity of PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase type5, which affects the blood vessels that engorge the penis), except that extracts of Horny Goat Weed may be up to ten times more potent than ED drugs. Icariin’s purported mechanism of action is to increase nitric oxide levels, relaxing smooth muscles and restoring erectile function in men. The concentration of icariin can vary from 5-60%, with most commercially available products containing a standardized 10%.

An important part of our natural health and wellness is having a normal, healthy sex drive. A variety of conditions, including normal aging and medications, can alter or even eliminate your libido. Some of the most common drugs for depression and hypertension are known to greatly diminish sex drives in both men and women. Horny Goat Weed may be a useful addition to your daily supplements to restore one of the more important aspects of men’s health.

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