Horny goat weed (Epimedium) comes from traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to treat a wide variety of ailments such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, brain injury, hay fever and fatigue. However, it is best known for treating erectile dysfunction (ED). Horny goat weed is available over-the-counter in tablet, capsule, powder and tea forms. The active ingredient is known as icariin. Icariin comes from the Epimedium plant. The name, Horny Goat Weed, came about because a goat herder happen to notice his flock become sexually aroused after eating this plant.
What is Icariin?
Icariin is an inhibitor of the enzyme phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5). PDE5 blocks relaxation of the arteries in the penis. Icariin increases blood flow into the two cylinders (cavernosa) in the penis which in turn allows an erection to occur. Icariin works in a similar fashion to Viagra (sildenafil).
Many people believe in the effectiveness of Horny Goat Weed as is the case with a lot of other natural supplements.
Most of the research has been done on rodents and human studies are limited. A study done on rodents that were treated with a purified extract demonstrated an increase in erectile function.
Horny Goat Weed Side Effects
Horny Goat Weed can lead to sweating or feeling hot, however little research has been done on side effects. The Sloan Kettering Cancer Center reports that patients with heart problems or certain types of cancer should talk with their health care provider before taking this supplement. One incident led to generating some side effects involving a rash and burning sensation after taking the herb along with Ginkgo biloba. In another incident, a man with heart complications needed to be hospitalized because he had shortness of breath, chest pain and an arrhythmia after taking Horny Goat Weed.
There are certain health issues and drugs that put you at risk if you are taking this supplement. If you are taking medications for hypertension or blood thinners, there could be complications. If you take medications that tend to cause arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), you are at risk of side effects. If you have heart or thyroid disease, Horny Goat Weed is contraindicated. Make sure to talk with your health care provider before taking this supplement. It is also suggested that you not take Horny Goat Weed if you are taking ibuprofen and other pain relievers. Some people are allergic to this herb particularly if they are allergic to Berberidaceae family. These allergic symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat, rash and sweating.
If you not into taking prescription drugs for Erectile Dysfunction, Horny Goat Weed is readily available over-the-counter and it comes in a number of forms (tablet, capsule, powder and tea) and it has the ability to counter fatigue and helps relieve joint pain as well. On the other hand, large doses of Horny Goat Weed may result in muscle twitches and respiratory problems and it can have negative interactions with other medications you are taking.