EPIMEDIUM HERB (Epimedium grandiflorum)

Latin: Epimedium grandiflorum, E.  species
Chinese: Yin yang huo
English: Horny goat weed

WHAT IT DOES: Epimedium herb is pungent and sweet in taste, and warming in action.  It increases sperm production and motility, increases sex drive and fertility, enhances metabolism and strengthens the bones.

RATING: Yellow, due to limitations in use.

SAFETY ISSUES: Not for long-term use by itself, which may induce vomiting and dizziness in some people due to warming effects. This does not occur if used as part of a properly formulated TCM formula.

dried powder or concentrated powder extract
• Dried powder: three to 12 grams per day
• 4:1 concentrated powder: one to three grams per day

The Chinese name for epimedium herb (yin yang huo, or horny goat weed) derives from folklore accounts that originated in the northern plains of China.  It seems that goats in this region that grazed on this weed would–how can I say this gently–experience increased emissions spilling onto the grass.  Farmers tend to notice this sort of thing.  Recently, I’ve heard rumors that this herb is gaining increasing popularity in Hollywood, as one might expect.  We use it as a frequent addition to formulas for treating impotence, low sex drive and frequent urination.  It works for both men and women.  It is also useful for hypothyroid conditions.  The concentrated powder can be dissolved in wine.

Research Highlights

• Pharmacological and animal studies in China indicate that epimedium increases sperm production, increases sexual desire, and stimulates the sensory nerves.  It also increases mating behavior in animals (reported in Yeung, 1983; reported in Bensky and Gamble, 1993; Dong et al., 1994; Kuang et al., 1989).

• Epimedium extracts (polysaccharides and glycosides) stimulate the immune system and have shown the ability to reverse suppressed immunity in animal models and clinical trials on humans.  The glycosides increase coronary flow, reduce blood pressure slightly, and exhibit liver-protective effects (reported in Huang, 1999, Lee et al., 1995).
• In a study of rats with kidney disease, epimedium reduced the level of BUN and serum creatinine (Cheng et al., 1994).

• Epimedium decoction proved very effective in a controlled trial on patients with chronic kidney failure who required hemodialysis.  The herb increased their sexual drive significantly and improved their immune function, as well as the overall quality of the patients’ lives (Liao, 1995).

• Researchers have tested epimedium in vitro and in vivo for its effects on osteoporosis.  In the test tube, it improves bone resorption (by osteoclasts), and in rats it increases mineral content and promotes bone formation (Yu et al., 1999).

• In a study on rats, water extract of epimedium reversed the side effects of long-term use of steroids, reducing adrenal atrophy and bone loss (Wu et al., 1996).