Horny Goat Weed: 10 Benefits, 4 Side Effects, And Uses

A popular traditional remedy that can help in the right doses but hurt if improperly used.

Medically reviewed by Vd. Naveen Sharma, BAMS Vd. Naveen Sharma Vd. Naveen SharmaBAMS facebook_icon
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Aparna Mallampalli BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
 • 

Horny goat weed is called yin yang huo in Chinese and is botanically known as Epimedium. Horny goat weed benefits include improved libidoi  The desirability of sex that varies from person to person and is impacted by lifestyle choices, medications, and hormones. and enhanced production of certain hormones. It also is a natural aphrodisiaci  A substance that heightens sexual pleasure, arousal, or desire, abundantly found in pomegranate, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. and offers other important benefits too. In this article, we discuss all the benefits of horny goat weed. Continue reading.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Horny Goat Weed

What Is It?
It is a herb used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine.

What are Its Benefits?
It may improve libido and sexual function, reduce inflammation and pain, enhance bone health, and aid cognitive function and cardiovascular health.

Who Can Use It?
It can be used by adults looking to promote sexual health, reduce inflammation and pain, or enhance bone and heart health.

How Often?
It is recommended to take 2 capsules (1,000 mg) orally per day.

Caution
It may cause side effects in some individuals such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

What Is Horny Goat Weed? What Are Its Uses?

Horny goat weed, Epimedium, or ‘yin yang huo’ (in Chinese) is a herb used as a popular treatment for erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. . But does horny goat weed really work? Yes! In fact, one study concluded that it could be a promising treatment for erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. caused by nerve injury (1).

The herb is also used to boost immunity, promote bone health, and for its anticancer and anti-HIV activities (we need more research for this). This herb appears interesting, doesn’t it? But wait, how does it work?

How Does Horny Goat Weed Work?

Since the most important benefit of the herb is to treat erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. , we will look at how it works in this regard.

When a person is physically stimulated, the nitric oxide in the body signals a chemical called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) – and this process results in an inflow of blood into three cylinder-like structures in the male genital organ. This leads to an erection.

It may also inhibit an enzyme called protein phosphodiesterase type 5, which otherwise interferes with the nitric oxide and cGMP – this prevents the blood from flowing to the male genital organ, and as a result, prevents an erection. Proper blood circulation is essential for maintaining and achieving an erection.

And now, we get to the details.

What Are The Benefits Of Horny Goat Weed?

Thanks to its icariin content, horny goat weed works wonderfully well for treating erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. and boosting libidoi  The desirability of sex that varies from person to person and is impacted by lifestyle choices, medications, and hormones. . It also improves testosterone production. The herb can also lower blood pressure levels and enhance energy levels to a considerable extent.  

1. Treats Erectile Dysfunction

Wife tries to console disturbed husband in the bedroom
Image: Shutterstock

We already saw how the herb works. In fact, it has been used for treating erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. in traditional Chinese medicine for several years. This ability of horny goat weed can be attributed to its icariin content – icariin is an active ingredient found in the herb that has beneficial properties.

Studies (preliminary, but promising) have shown that icariin can also help sustain an erection – and the herb can be used as a potential treatment for erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. , and that too, with few or no side effects (1).

Jonathan Roseland, a blogger, used horny goat weed to improve his libido. He says I’ve tried several libido-enhancing herbs and supplements and Horny Goat Weed is the best (i)”.

protip_icon StyleCraze Trivia
Horny goat weed has been used in traditional Asian medicine for nearly 1000 years. It was used to make a yang tonic to enhance kidney functioning and improve fertility and libido.

2. Increases Testosterone Production

Certain studies have stated that the icariin in horny goat weed can help increase testosterone levels. This also helps combat increasing stamina, fixing low energy levels, and combating involuntary ejaculation.

Icariin has testosterone-mimicking properties, and this helps improve physical intimacy desires and athletic performance. Studies have also shown how the herb can work as an intimacy enhancer by increasing libidoi  The desirability of sex that varies from person to person and is impacted by lifestyle choices, medications, and hormones. .

According to a few top doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine, horny goat weed is the best sexual tonic for both men and women (2).

protip_icon Fun Fact
Rumor has it that this plant got its name from a goat herder when he noticed the increased sex drive in goats after eating it.

3. Improves Neural Health

Some sources say that horny goat weed can also help treat depression, which might also contribute to erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. in some cases. And the icariin in the herb acts as a neuroprotectant – it prevents inflammation, which can otherwise lead to cognitive decline (3).

4. Prevents Osteoporosis

Horny goat weed prevents osteoporosis
Image: Shutterstock

Reports suggest that horny goat weed can be used to treat osteoporosisi  A condition where the bones’ mineral density and mass decrease, making them weaker and more prone to fractures and bone loss post menopause (4). Other studies found that the herb could restore the bone density of the spine. Icariin can also be used as an osteogenic compound in bone tissue engineering (5).

As per a study conducted by the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the icariin in horny goat weed could improve bone formation (6).

5. Enhances Liver Health

Icariin has often been used in medications for primary liver cancer (7). However, we need more research before we can conclude if horny goat weed can improve liver function.

6. Might Boost Energy Levels

According to certain sources, horny goat weed can boost energy levels upon ingestion. But there are very few studies supporting this fact. Hence, we recommend you talk to your doctor before using the herb for this purpose.

7. May Lower Blood Pressure

Horny goat weed can lower blood pressure
Image: Shutterstock

Some sources say that the herb can help regulate blood pressure levels, and this is especially true in menopausal women . If you suffer from hypertension, lowering your blood pressure is good for cardiovascular health as it reduces the load on the heart and blood vessels. But be careful about its use – as studies also state the herb might interact with blood pressure medications.

8. May Treat Insomnia

Woman sleeping peacefully
Image: Shutterstock

There is very little information on this. But horny goat weed can calm the nerves and ease anxiety – and can prevent the resultant insomnia.

On the flip side, the herb has stimulating effects. Hence, if not taken in limited doses, it can instead cause insomnia.

9. Horny Goat Weed Benefits For Skin

Horny goat weed for skin health
Image: Shutterstock

Though there is no specific use of horny goat weed to treat any particular skin ailment, it might improve skin health as it stimulates blood flow. The blood flow improves the transportation of oxygen throughout the body, making your skin glow naturally. This also soothes the skin.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the herb can also cure herpesi  A viral infection that results in mouth sores or genital sores that can be transmitted sexually and affect many people asymptomatically. . But we suggest you consult your doctor before using it for this purpose.

10. Horny Goat Weed Benefits For Hair

Horny goat weed promotes hair growth
Image: Shutterstock

The growth of our hair depends on the condition of our scalp and hormones. In some cases, especially in men, hormones are the main cause of hair loss. Imbalances in testosterone levels can also lead to hair issues. Since horny goat weed can boost testosterone levels, it might, in a way, boost hair growth.

However, this benefit hasn’t been scientifically proven yet. So, consult your doctor first.

Note: The herb’s safety and efficacy may vary among individuals. Also, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before using any herbal supplements, especially if you have an underlying health condition or are taking any medications.

protip_icon Fun Fact
Horny goat weed is also called Bishop’s cap or fairy wings due to the shape of its flowers.

These are some ways horny goat weed can make your life easier. But if taken in excess, it can make your life difficult too.

What Are The Side Effects Of Horny Goat Weed?

is horny goat weed safe? It’s better to be informed about its side effects. Read on.

1. May Lead To Bleeding Disorders

The herb slows blood clotting and can increase the risk of bleeding. It can also increase this risk during surgery – hence, avoid its use at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

2. May Cause Hormone-sensitive Conditions

The herb can act like estrogen and increase its levels in some women. This can aggravate cancers of the breast or uterus, which are conditions sensitive to estrogen.

3. May Cause Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

Ingesting horny goat weed during pregnancy might harm the fetus. Not enough is known about its effects during breastfeeding. Hence, avoid use in both the cases.

These are the side effects. But you sure can avoid them by taking horny goat weed in limited doses. And wait, how can you take it in the first place?

How To Take Horny Goat Weed

You can take 250 to 500 milligrams of horny goat weed every day with water (8). This can include horny goat weed extract or tablet. You will also get the extract powder in the market.

Or you can prepare horny goat weed tea. Simply steep the leaves (remember the dosage) in hot water for about 10 minutes. Strain the liquid and remove the leaves. Have it in the morning and evening.

Ensure you take a week-long break for every month you take this herb. But keep in mind the dosage. An overdose can lead to the side effects that we discussed. As per anecdotal evidence, the upper limits based on an individual’s weight include:

  • 900 milligrams of icariin for an individual weighing 150 lbs
  • 1,200 milligrams of icariin for an individual weighing 200 lbs
  • 1,500 milligrams of icariin for an individual weighing 250 lbs

The doses might vary as per the health conditions of an individual. Hence, it’s better if you consult a doctor.
Check out the section below to know when to take horny goat weed to reap its benefits.

When To Take Horny Goat Weed

Horny goat weed is commonly taken 30 minutes to 1 hour before engaging in sexual activity. This timing is suggested to allow the active compound, icariin, found in horny goat weed, to potentially boost sexual desire. It can also be taken as a daily supplement to reap other health benefits. However, it’s important to understand that responses to this herbal supplement can vary among individuals and its effectiveness may be influenced by factors like dosage and the user’s overall health. Consult a healthcare professional before using horny goat weed to determine the most suitable timing and dosage for your specific needs and to ensure it is safe and compatible with your health.

Infographic: 5 Important Benefits Of Horny Goat Weed

Horny goat weed is a powerful herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve libidoi  The desirability of sex that varies from person to person and is impacted by lifestyle choices, medications, and hormones. and improve hormone production. We have compiled the six most important benefits of consuming horny goat weed and its effect on health. Check out the infographic below to know more!

5 important benefits of horny goat weed (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Horny goat weed is a medicinal herb that has a long history in Chinese traditional medicine. Horny goat weed benefits your health in many ways. It has been used for treating erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. . It increases testosterone production, helps treat depression, prevents inflammation, treats osteoporosisi  A condition where the bones’ mineral density and mass decrease, making them weaker and more prone to fractures , enhances liver health, and boosts energy levels. However, excess intake may cause bleeding disorders, lower blood pressure levels way too much, aggravate cancers, and cause issues during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hence, use it in recommended amounts to reap its maximum benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does horny goat weed take to work?

Depends on what it is used for. If used for improving intimacy desires, it can work within 60 to 90 minutes. For treating the underlying cause of erectile dysfunctioni  The inability to hold an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity, which also may lead to emotional distress in a few males. and other ailments like weak bones, etc., it can take a week or more.

Can women take horny goat weed?

Yes, the herb can have similar beneficial effects for women too. But they need to be wary of its estrogen-like effects. Hence, it’s better if they consult their doctor first.

What is the best time to take horny goat weed?

Though there is no established timing, you can take it once in the morning and once late in the afternoon.

Where to buy horny goat weed?

You can get it from your nearest pharmacy or online on Walmart or Amazon. But please talk to your doctor before making the purchase

Is horny goat weed safe for long-term use?

It is better to use horny goat weed for a short term as some types of horny goat weed are possibly unsafe when used for long periods of time and may pose a serious threat.

Are there any interactions between horny goat weed and other medications?

Horny goat weed may have negative interactions with certain medications. If you have any health conditions and are taking medication, please consult a doctor to know if you can have this ingredient and its proper dosage.

Key Takeaways

  • Horny goat weed is a traditional Chinese medicinal herb with aphrodisiac properties.
  • It gives a natural glow to the skin as it increases oxygen levels in your blood flow.
  • The herb promotes hair growth and prevents hair loss.
  • It supports immune system health, regulates blood pressure, and improves energy levels and athletic performance.
  • It is a popular treatment for erectile dysfunction.
horny goat weed benefits

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Erectogenic and Neurotrophic Effects of Icariin, a Purified Extract of Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium spp.) In Vitro and In Vivo, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3551978/
  2. Asian herbals and aphrodisiacs used for managing ED, Translational Andrology And Urology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5422695/
  3. Icariin inhibits hydrogen peroxide-induced toxicity through inhibition of phosphorylation of JNK/p38 MAPK and p53 activity. Mutation Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21236269
  4. Icariin Promotes Tendon-Bone Healing during Repair of Rotator Cuff Tears: A Biomechanical and Histological Study. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27792147
  5. Icariin: a potential osteoinductive compound for bone tissue engineering. Tissue Engineering Part A, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19698057
  6. Icariin Augments Bone Formation and Reverses the Phenotypes of Osteoprotegerin-Deficient Mice through the Activation of Wnt/β-Catenin-BMP Signaling, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3835354/
  7. Anti-Cancer Properties of the Naturally Occurring Aphrodisiacs: Icariin and Its Derivatives, Frontiers in Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4925704/
  8. Horny Goat Weed
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK583203/
Vd. Naveen Sharma

Vd. Naveen SharmaBAMS, Ayurveda Specialist

Dr. Naveen Sharma is a renowned Ayurveda specialist with an experience of 10 years. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery(B. A. M. S) from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, in 2007. He has a professional membership with AYUSH. Dr. Sharma’s specialties include cancer, liver disorders, autoimmune disorders, lifestyle disorders, migraine, hair fall, PCOD...read full bio

Latest Articles