Can Horny Goat Weed Cure Erectile Dysfunction And Boost Libido?

Horny Goat Weed can help you overcome erectile dysfunction. It can also boost your sex drive. And it may even amplify the pleasurable sensations from sex.

How does it do this?

Research studies have demonstrated that Horny Goat Weed is a phosphodiesterase type 5 (‘PDE5’) inhibitor. This is the same way that Viagra, Cialis and Levitra enable you to ‘get it up’.

Other research studies have shown that it can also increase nitric oxide production. You need nitric oxide in order to produce erections.

And in addition, studies have found that horny goat weed can boost your testosterone production. More testosterone will normally make it easier to get erections, and also increase your libido.

Let’s learn more about Horny Goat Weed.

Horny Goat Weed can help you overcome erectile dysfunction

Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium Sagittatum)

This plant is also known as Epimedium Sagittatum or Yin Yang Huo. It was first described in ancient classical Chinese medicinal texts, and it is believed to have been used for more than 3,000 years.

Horny Goat Weed can be any one of the more than 60 plants in the Epimedium genus, however, the most commonly used plant is the one called Epimedium Sagittatum. 

It’s a leafy plant which grows in the wild, most abundantly at higher altitudes. It’s an evergreen hardy perennial plant which normally grows on the forest floor. 

It grows up to 20 inches in height, normally has yellow or white flowers (although these can also be of other colors) and huge, spear-shaped, glossy and green leaflets, up to 6 inches in length.

The plant is endemic to China, with smaller numbers grown in Korea and elsewhere in Asia, as well as in the Mediterranean region.

Horny Goat Weed has been used for more than 3,000 years

There is a Chinese legend about Horny Goat Weed:

Legend has it that many years ago, a shepherd took his goats up to the mountains where they could find lush grass and other vegetation to eat. 

After some time of grassing happily, the shepherd noticed a strange change of behavior in the goats. 

From eating and minding their own business, they started showing more attention to each other. Shortly thereafter, they were making noises. And then some of the goats started mating. 

The shepherd was stunned! This was not normal. Why did the goats all of a sudden get frisky and start copulating? 😆

According to the legend, this was because they ate large amounts of the herb now known as Horny Goat Weed.

Horny Goat Weed Legend

Horny Goat Weed is one of the most commonly used herbal remedies for sexual functions, and has a long history of successful use, also for women. 👍 

The part of the plant that is normally used for the various dietary and medicinal purposes, are the leaves.

How Does Horny Goat Weed Impact Sexual Functions?

The primary active ingredient in the leaves of Horny Goat Weed is a flavonoid called icariin. 

When Horny Goat Weed is used as a supplement, this icariin has normally been extracted from the other components of the leaves. 

As a result, one can get supplements that contain 10% icariin, and more potent ones that contain 40% or more.

How Does Horny Goat Weed Impact Sexual Functions?

According to research studies (see below), Horny Goat Weed can impact your sexual functions via three different pathways.

  • By inhibiting PDE5 
  • By increasing nitric oxide production
  • By increasing testosterone production

Horny Goat Weed Is A PDE5 Inhibitor

Similarly to the pharmaceutical drugs Viagra, Levitra and Cialis, icariin is a PDE5 inhibitor.

Let’s understand how this works.

When you experience some form of sexual stimulation, dopamine is produced in your brain. This then sends signals that travel down your spinal cord to the nerves in your penis.

Horny Goat Weed Is A PDE5 Inhibitor

This signal then instructs the endothelial cells that sit in the blood vessels in your penis to produce nitric oxide. This in turn causes the manufacturing of something called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (‘cGMP’). 

cGMP has the ability to decrease free calcium levels. 

When free calcium levels go down, the smooth muscles in your penis that are normally in a state of contraction, start to relax. 

Let’s understand how these smooth muscles work:

Each blood vessel consists of several layers. Imagine a blood vessel as a tube inside a tube inside a tube. One of these layers is a muscle called smooth muscle.

When your penis is flaccid, these smooth muscles squeeze your blood vessels flat (they contract) so that almost no blood can flow through them. With no blood inside the blood vessels, your penis will be flaccid.

Smooth Muscles Relax To Provide Bloodlfow

When these smooth muscles start to relax, they give up the squeeze around your blood vessels.

Which means that blood can flow into your penis, fill it with blood and produce an erection.

Quick summary: Smooth muscles normally contract, which means a flaccid penis. Dopamine causes you to produce nitric oxide, which again causes you to produce cGMP. This makes free calcium levels go down, which in turn enables blodfloow, which produces an erection.

Over to PDE5: 

What PDE5 does is to break down your cGMP. 

When PDE5 breaks down cGMP, free calcium levels are allowed to rise. When the free calcium levels increase, smooth muscles again start to contract and blood is forced out of the penis. As a result, your penis goes flaccid.

Calcium Penis Erection

So PDE5 stops erections from happening. 

This is where icariin enters the picture: 

Icariin acts as a PDE5 inhibitor. This means that it slows down or stops PDE5 from doing its job. 

As icariin makes PDE5 less effective at breaking down cGMP, more cGMP will remain in the smooth muscles of your penis. 

More cGMP will keep free calcium levels lower than otherwise. This means that the smooth muscles will relax more. When the smooth muscles relax, it will normally be easier for you to get erections, and your erections will normally last for longer.

Pharmaceutical drugs such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are able to treat erectile dysfunction in this exact way: They are all PDE-5 inhibitors.

Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are PDE-5 inhibitors

In other words, icariin works in the same ways as these pharmaceutical drugs. Or rather one of the effects of icariin is similar to the effect of these pharmaceutical drugs. 

However, the effect of icariin is significantly less potent than the effect from the pharmaceutical drugs. 

One research study estimated that the effect of icariin is approximately 80 times weaker than the effect of these mainstream drugs (see below for research study).

Another study found that Sildenafil (Viagra) was about 10 times more effective than icariin at increasing cGMP (see below for research study).

Which in theory means that you should get the same effect as you get from these pharmaceutical drugs, by taking somewhere between 10-80 times the amount of icariin. 

If 25mg of Viagra is what it takes for you to get an erection, in theory, a dose between 250mg and 2,000 mg of icariin should give you the same effect.

Icariin is approximately 80 times weaker than Viagra

Horny Goat Weed Increases Nitric Oxide Production

In the above section, we learned why nitric oxide is so important in order to get erections.

If you don’t produce enough nitric oxide, you will find it practically impossible to get erections.

The second effect from Horny Goat Weed also comes from icariin. But through a different pathway. 

Icariin has demonstrated that it can make the enzyme called nitric oxide synthase, more effective at producing nitric oxide. 

Nitric oxide synthase is an enzyme that sits inside your blood vessels and produces nitric oxide.

When this enzyme is more effective at producing nitric oxide, it means that more nitric oxide can be produced.

Blood vessel can produce more nitric oxide

When nitric oxide is produced in your blood vessels, it ultimately leads to the creation of cGMP. 

More cGMP in turn will cause your blood vessels to open up, blood to flow into your penis, and an erection to form.

So not only does icariin slow down the cGMP breakdown (the PDE5 inhibitor effect above), but it also increases the absolute production of cGMP. 

Horny Goat Weed Increases Testosterone Production

The third effect from icariin comes from its reported ability to increase testosterone production.

By the way, why is testosterone so important in order to function well sexually?

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. Its job is to regulate and support all sexual functions and activities. Therefore, healthy levels of testosterone are essential in order to have a strong libido and to function sexually.

Horny Goat Weed Increases Testosterone Production

With low testosterone, you are more likely to struggle with erectile dysfunction and a low libido.

In addition, testosterone is paramount for production of both nitric oxide and dopamine, two other components that are crucial for functioning sexually. 

Several research studies (see below) have demonstrated that Horny Goat Weed, and particularly icariin, has the ability to increase testosterone production.

The way Horny Goat Weed improves testosterone production is most likely by causing an increase in the production of luteinizing hormone, which in turn instructs the leydig cells to produce more testosterone. 

And also by upregulating certain genes that facilitate the manufacturing of testosterone.

Also, if you want to learn how to boost testosterone naturally and permanently, you can read this guide.

Icariin upregulates genes that produce testosterone

Scientific Studies On Horny Goat Weed’s Impact On Libido And ED

In this section, I provide you with all the relevant scientific evidence that exists about Horny Goat Weed and its impact on sexual functions. 

Or at least, all the relevant scientific evidence that I am aware of. 😊

With this information at hand, you can better draw your own conclusions. 

What you will find, is a summary of the key findings from these scientific studies. And you find a link to the studies, should you want to read the actual studies. 

I have presented all relevant studies I am aware of, whether they indicated that the effect from Horny Goat Weed was positive or negative.

Scientific Studies On Horny Goat Weed’s Impact On Libido And Erectile Dysfunction

Horny Goat Weed Study 1: September 2019

Icariin protects mouse Leydig cell testosterone synthesis from the adverse effects of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate.

The aim of this study was to investigate the possible roles of icariin in preventing testicular dysfunction caused by di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), one of the most studied environmental endocrine disruptors.

Cultured mouse Leydig cells were pretreated with icariin and exposed to DEHP to determine icariin’s effects.

The outcome?

Icariin reversed the adverse effect of DEHP on Leydig cell proliferation, and decreased free radical levels. Also, icariin promoted testosterone production and increased sperm count.

Icariin prevents testicular dysfunction

Horny Goat Weed Study 2: July 2014

Effects of Icariin on Reproductive Functions in Male Rats.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects and potential mechanism(s) of action of icariin on the reproductive functions of male rats.

40 male adult rats were divided in 4 groups, and given 0 (control), 50, 100, or 200 mg icariin per kg bodyweight, for 35 consecutive days.

The outcome?

Testosterone levels increased significantly with increasing icariin dose from 50 to 100 mg/kg. However, no statistically significant difference was detected between the control and 200 mg/kg icariin-treated group. This suggests that higher doses of icariin do not increase testosterone production.

The study suggested that icariin may be involved in testosterone production via mRNA expression regulation of genes.

Also, 50 and 100 mg/kg icariin treatment improved antioxidative capacity, while 200 mg/kg icariin treatment increased oxidative stress. 

These results collectively suggest that icariin within a certain dose range is beneficial to male reproductive functions. However, higher doses of icariin may damage reproductive functions by increasing oxidative stress in the testes.

Effect of icariin on the reproductive functions of male rats

Horny Goat Weed Study 3: October 2011

Effects of icariin on improving erectile function in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of icariin in the penis of streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rat.

A group of rats were first treated with streptozotocin to cause damage to their insulin production. They were then treated with icariin doses of 1, 5, or 10 mg/kg, or a placebo, for 3 months. 

The outcome?

Icariin treatment preserved penile hemodynamics, smooth muscle and endothelial integrity, and neuronal nitric oxide synthase expression in the penis of diabetic rats.

Research on effect of icariin in rats

Horny Goat Weed Study 4: April 2010

Erectogenic and neurotrophic effects of icariin, a purified extract of horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.) in vitro and in vivo.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the penile hemodynamic and tissue effects of icariin in cavernous nerve injured rats. It studied the in vitro effects of icariin on cultured pelvic ganglia.

Rats were subjected to cavernous nerve injury and subsequently treated for 4 weeks with daily doses of 1, 5, and 10 mg/kg icariin, or a placebo.

The study found that the rats given icariin had a higher pressure in the corpora cavernosa, and also a higher expression of nitric oxide synthase.

In addition, the rats treated with icariin also had a larger pelvic ganglia, which is a pelvic floor muscle.

Rats treated with icariin

Horny Goat Weed Study 5: September 2008

Potent inhibition of human phosphodiesterase-5 by icariin derivatives.

The goal of this study was to screen 4 plant extracts traditionally used for male impotence (Tribulus terrestris, Ferula hermonis, Epimedium brevicornum, Cinnamomum cassia), and the individual compounds cinnamaldehyde, ferutinin, and icariin, against phosphodiesterase-5A1 activity.

The outcome?

Only E. brevicornum extract and its active principle icariin was active.

The study also found that icariin was about 80 times less potent than Sildenafil (Viagra).

Icariin as PDE5 inhibitor

Horny Goat Weed Study 6: December 2006

Effects of icariin on phosphodiesterase-5 activity in vitro and cyclic guanosine monophosphate level in cavernous smooth muscle cells.

The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of icariin on the cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-hydrolytic activity of phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) isoforms and the cGMP levels in cavernous smooth muscle cells treated with sodium nitroprusside (SNP).

3 PDE5 isoforms were isolated from insect cells and treated with icariin.

Also, cavernous smooth muscle cells were isolated from 3-month-old rats, and then treated with icariin.

The outcome?

Icariin was inhibitory to all three PDE5 isoforms. And icariin was able to enhance cGMP levels in the SNP-treated rat cavernous smooth muscle cells.

Icariin is able to enhance cGMP levels

Horny Goat Weed Study 7: September 2006

Effect of icariin on cyclic GMP levels and on the mRNA expression of cGMP-binding cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase (PDE5) in penile cavernosum.

The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of icariin on the in vitro formation of cGMP and cAMP in isolated rabbit corpus cavernosum.

The effects of icariin on the mRNA expression of specific cGMP-binding phosphodiesterase type V (PDE5) in rat penis were also observed.

Isolated segments of rabbit corpus cavernosum were exposed to increasing concentrations of icariin, and the dose-dependent accumulation of cGMP and cAMP were determined.

Outcomes were compared to those obtained using Sildenafil (Viagra).

The outcome?

The results showed that icariin increased cGMP concentrations directly, but there was no significant effect on cAMP concentrations

The study found that icariin increased cGMP concentrations with increasing dose, and that icariin was about 10 times less potent than Sildenafil (Viagra).

The study also found that icariin was able to inhibit PDE5.

The present study indicated that the aphrodisiac mechanisms of icariin involved the nitric oxide-cGMP signal transduction pathway, with increasing cGMP levels in the corpus cavernosum smooth muscle.

Icariin increases cGMP

Horny Goat Weed Study 8: September 2006

The testosterone mimetic properties of icariin.

The aim of this study was to analyze the testosterone mimetic properties of icariin.

This study involved 48 rats. The rats’ reproductive system was initially damaged by a toxin.

A subset of the rats were then given 200 mg/kg icariin for 7 days. 

The results?

The study found that icariin improved the condition of reproductive organs and increased the circulating levels of testosterone.

It also found that icariin suppressed the extent of apoptosis (normal cell death) of penile cavernosal smooth muscle cells.

The testosterone mimetic properties of icariin

Horny Goat Weed Study 9: December 2005

Effects of icariin on erectile function and expression of nitric oxide synthase isoforms in castrated rats.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of icariin on erectile function and the expression of nitric oxide synthase isoforms in castrated rats.

This study involved 32 castrated rats. The rats were administered 1 or 5 mg/kg icariin, or a placebo, for four weeks.

The outcome? 

The study showed that both 1mg/kg and 5mg/kg icariin increased the pressure in the corpora cavernosa (the main erectile structure of the penis), increased the amount of smooth muscle tissue in the penis, and increased nitric oxide activity, after 4 weeks of treatment. 

There was however no statistically significant increase in testosterone levels in the rats.

Icariin improves nitric oxide synthase

Horny Goat Weed Study 10: June 2004

Effects of icariin on the erectile function and expression of nitrogen oxide synthase isoforms in corpus cavernosum of arterigenic erectile dysfunction rat model.

The objective of the study was to analyze the effects of oral administered icariin on intracavernosal pressure and on expression of the nitrogen oxide synthase isoforms in corpus cavernosum of arteriogenic erectile dysfunction rat model.

The rats were given 5 or 10 mg/kg/day of icariin, or a placebo, orally for 30 days.

The study concluded that icariin was able to increase intracavernosal pressure, and also increase nitric oxide synthase expression in the rat penis, after 30 days.

Icariin can increase intracavernosal pressure

Horny Goat Weed Study 11: March 2003

Effects of icariin on cGMP-specific PDE5 and cAMP-specific PDE4 activities.

The aim of this study was to clarify the mechanism of the therapeutic action of icariin on erectile dysfunction.

The study was done on humans and rats. PDE5 was isolated from the human platelet and PDE4 from the rat liver tissue

The result?

The study concluded that Icariin is a cGMP-specific PDE5 inhibitor that may be developed into an oral effective agent for the treatment of ED.

Icariin can cure erectile dysfunction

Other Potential Benefits From Horny Goat Weed

Icariin is used by some body-builders to boost testosterone, and thereby make it easier to build muscle mass. 

Research studies have also indicated that icariin has a positive effect on reducing cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that ‘an enemy’ of testosterone, meaning more cortisol normally means less testosterone.

Also, some animal studies have indicated that icariin may work like an adaptogen, An adaptogen works to restore systems in the body that are out of balance, without causing harm to other systems. 

In addition to its effects on libido and erectile functioning, Horny Goat Weed has also been used to treat fatigue, depression, memory loss, arthritis, nerve pain, kidney and liver disorders, inflammation, cancer, PMS and menopause in women, hayfever, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, dementia, bronchitis, osteoporosis and herpes simplex. 

It has also been used to boost the immune system, and to help people recover from strokes. People has also used it as an antioxidant.

Icariin has also been suggested to have anti-inflammatory, antiosteoporotic, and neuroprotective properties.

Let me tell you about my experience with Horny Goat Weed.

Icariin is used by some body-builders to boost testosterone

My Experience With Horny Goat Weed Supplements

  • Form: At least 40% icariin extract in powder form
  • Dose: One tablespoon (not fully topped) (approximately 7 grams)
  • When: 60-120 minutes before sex
  • Effect On Libido: Good
  • Effect On Erections: Very good
  • Effect On Sensation: Very good
  • Taste: Unpleasant
  • Verdict: One of my favorite supplements
  • Noticed Side-Effects: None

I recall feeling a slight effect when I took this supplement initially. I was then taking two capsules of a low-grade supplement with only 10% icariin content.

My Experience With Horny Goat Weed Supplements

It made sex a tiny bit more pleasurable – I could feel a little extra kick. It may have also made it slightly easier to get erections. But I was not able to replicate this effect consistently, and I therefore found the supplement of little use back then.

The reason I didn’t have better results initially, was probably because the Horny Goat Weed I used then was not very potent. I also took a very small dose.

But this changed when I experimented more systematically with Horny Goat Weed.

When I take Horny Goat Weed today, I always purchase a high quality version in powder form that contains at least 40% icariin. But often 60% or higher. 

When I buy supplements, I normally always buy them in powder form.

Why?

Horny Goat Weed in powder form

Supplements in powder form are normally fresher (newer), purer and of better quality.

I also like to see a certificate from the manufacturer, stating that the supplement is pure and that it does not contain toxins.

And I take it 1-2 hours before sex. Before, I mixed an un-topped tablespoon (about 7 greams) in water and drank it. 

To me, the taste is rather bitter and not particularly pleasant. Although not as bad as the taste of Tribulus Terrestris or Tongkat Ali.

When I take Horny Goat Weed now, I put the powder in capsules. I do this to avoid the taste. When I swallow capsules instead of drinking the mixture, there is no taste.

If you want to purchase capsules and a capsule making set, you find it here.

Un-topped tablespoon of Horny Goat Weed

The effects I get from Horny Goat Weed are very good.

Horny Goat Weed gives me three sexual effects. And I normally start noticing these effects about 45-60 minutes after taking it.

The first effect is a slight jump in libido. This effect is not particularly pronounced, but I often feel that I get slightly more sexually charged.

The second effect is that my erections become firmer, harder and fuller. My erections normally also last pretty much for as long as I want. 

Also, if I stop sex and restart a few minutes later, I normally get erections super easily. 

The last effect is an increase in the pleasurable sensations I get from sex. In other words, the sensations from sex are amplified and more enjoyable, and my orgasms are more intense.

Although Horny Goat Weed is great on its own, the effects are even more intense when I combine it with other supplements, such as L-arginine, Pine bark and ZMA.

I normally always take supplements in combinations. And the following combination has worked super well for me:

  • L-arginine (7 grams)
  • Pine bark  (7 grams)
  • ZMA (0.75 grams)
  • Horny Goat Weed (7 grams)

For me, this combination gives me erections that or on par with erections I got when I took pharmaceutical drugs. But, not only does this produce amazing erections, the amplified sensations are also great. And I don’t get the side-effects I got from the drugs, like a flushed face or headache.

If you want to purchase a high quality version of Horny Goat Weed, you find it here.

And if you want to learn how to cure ED naturally and permanently, you can read this guide.

Where to purchase a high quality version of Horny Goat Weed

Safety Of Horny Goat Weed

Is it safe to take Horny Goat Weed in the doses that I have taken? Which is about 7 grams.

I don’t know. 

I am not a doctor and I don’t know for sure whether this is indeed safe.

Neither have I seen sufficient evidence from research studies about safety and potential negative effects. 

That said, one of the research studies above indicated that 200mg /kg of bodyweight had a negative impact on rats. For a man of 80kg, that would be a dose of 16 grams.

What I can say, is that I have never experienced any side effects from taking Horny Goat Weed in these doses. 

I have taken it on multiple occasions over several years, and not a single time have I experienced negative side effects.

However, your body may react differently to the supplement. Therefore, should you want to try Horny Goat Weed in the same doses as I have used, you do this 100% at your own risk.

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