What s to know about horny goat weed

No, there is no evidence that horny goat weed can increase penis size. In fact, there is little proof of any supplement that can increase a person’s penis size and only minimal or temporary benefits can be seen from techniques like penis stretching. Horny goat weed has been studied as a possible treatment for ED but isn’t believed to increase length or size.

Horny Goat Weed: Can It Treat Erectile Dysfunction?

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Horny goat weed may have health benefits for people with erectile dysfunction. It may work similarly to some prescription medications.

When it comes to treating illness or physical health conditions, you may be curious about exploring the benefits of natural herbs and supplements. While certain medications or lifestyle changes can certainly help alleviate symptoms, you may have also heard people say that they saw similar improvements using herbs like horny goat weed.

In the U.S., healthcare spending accounts for 17.7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or the total value of goods and services produced by the entire nation for the entire year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

But what conditions does horny goat weed aim to treat and is it even effective as an herbal supplement? In this article, we’ll explain how horny goat weed is thought to help people experiencing ED, as well as how it’s used, where it’s found, and more.

Horny goat weed is an over-the-counter herbal supplement that’s sold at most pharmacies and large retailers. The active ingredient is icariin, an extract of the Epimedium plant that’s reported to benefit people with erectile dysfunction (ED).

Epimedium is a genus that has over 50 species. When looking at horny goat weed , we most commonly will see Epimedium grandiflorum and Epimedium sagittatum species specifically in horny goat weed supplements.

It’s sold in many different forms, including:

It’s also known as:

  • yin yang huo
  • barrenwort
  • rowdy lamb herb
  • randy beef grass

While research is limited, horny goat weed is believed to be a possible therapeutic for congestive heart failure and osteoporosis , according to a 2010 animal study in rats. However, it’s probably most well known as a remedy for ED.

When you’re sexually stimulated, nitric oxide signals a chemical called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) that causes the smooth muscle to relax, resulting in an inflow of blood into three tube-like cylinders in the penis which then leads to an erection.

With ED, an enzyme named protein phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) interferes with the nitric oxide and cGMP that relaxes the smooth muscle in the arteries. As a result, the blood can’t move through the arteries and create an erection.

ED is defined as the inability to get and maintain an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. Most people who have a penis have experienced times when they were unable to sustain an erection, but that doesn’t mean they have ED. But if it happens regularly, you may have ED.

Icariin inhibits the activity of the PDE5 that’s blocking dilation of the arteries in the penis. This allows blood to fill the arteries and the three cylinders in the penis and create an erection. The prescription medication sildenafil (Viagra) works in much the same way.

However, horny goat weed may not work for everyone. Using it can also result in side effects or adverse interactions with other medications you may be taking.

Before starting this or any supplement, consult with your healthcare professional about the risks and benefits and find the best supplement for you.

As with many supplements, the claims about the effectiveness of horny goat weed are expansive. But as with many other natural supplements, research on the effects of horny goat weed on humans is limited.

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The FDA also does not routinely test supplements before they’re sold to consumers for quality. To make sure your horny goat weed supplements are safe to use and to ask about the contents, talk with the manufacturer directly.

An animal study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine involved investigating its effects on rats. Researchers found that rats treated with purified extract of horny goat weed showed improved erectile function.

In another study from 2008, researchers found that icariin is effective in inhibiting human PDE5, the substance that blocks erections, in test tubes. It also determined that sildenafil is 80 times more potent than icariin.

In a 2021 review of medicinal plants for inhibiting PDE5, the study found that icariin is the most effective plant-based option for ED.

There hasn’t been more recent research on the effects of horny goat weed and erectile function, though it has been shown to help other conditions like an anti-inflammatory.

Horny goat weed has a long history of use in traditional Eastern medicine. According to legend, its name came about because a goat herder noticed his flock became sexually stimulated after eating the plant.

The plant is native to parts of China, Japan, and Korea. Today, it’s widely grown as an ornamental plant in many areas of the world, including the United States. You can find horny goat weed over-the-counter.

There’s no set dosage for horny goat weed other than the recommended serving size as set by the manufacturer. As a result, the amount of horny goat weed or horny goat weed extract varies – generally 500 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) per serving – depending on the brand.

If you’re unsure about what dosage is right for you, consider talking with your healthcare professional to get their recommendations on dosage and to learn how horny goat weed might affect you.

Also, remember that results will vary from person to person. So, it’s important to contact your doctor if you experience any side effects after use.

Pros

  • easily accessible in multiple forms and sold over the counter
  • it’s been found to reduce the effects of joint pain and fatigue

Cons

  • large amounts taken at once can result in spasms and breathing problems
  • it may interact negatively with certain medicatinos

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The side effects of horny goat weed are minor when it’s taken over a few months’ time. But horny goat weed can cause:

Large amounts taken at once can result in spasms and breathing problems.

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, horny goat weed does come with some risks.

The organization says that people with heart disease or hormone-sensitive cancer should talk with their doctor before taking the herb. The herb can lead to sweating or feeling hot, but more research needs to be done on the effects.

Some medications and medical conditions may place you at greater risk if you take horny goat weed. These include:

  • medications that treat high blood pressure
  • medications that can cause irregular heartbeat
  • medications that thin your blood
  • heart disease
  • hormone-sensitive cancer, like breast cancer or ovarian cancer
  • thyroid disease

You also shouldn’t take horny goat weed if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a bleeding disorder. If you take any of these medications or have any of the conditions listed above, you should speak with your doctor before taking horny goat weed.

You should also avoid ibuprofen and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers while taking the supplement.

Horny goat weed may cause an allergic reaction in some people if they have allergies to plants in the Berberidaceae family. Some symptoms of a reaction include:

Horny goat weed can be dangerous when too much is consumed. There’s no set prescription dosage because it’s an OTC herb. There’s also not much scientific data to back it up as a medically sound supplement.

Horny goat weed has other medical properties and is sometimes used to improve bone density. It may also help treat heart disease, bronchitis, and even polio.

It works by smoothing muscle tissue. Any strained tissue will get a bit of relief. This can help with joint pain and numbness.

Horny goat weed may have the potential to treat:

  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • low libido
  • symptoms associated with menopause
  • osteoporosis
  • brain injury
  • hay fever
  • fatigue

There are other options for treating ED if horny goat weed isn’t for you. Standard treatments include medications, vacuum pumps, and surgery in some cases. If you’re looking for natural alternatives for treating ED, some to consider include:

  • red ginseng
  • DHEA
  • L-arginine
  • acupuncture
  • lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking if you smoke, or increasing physical activity such as exercising
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All of these natural treatments require further study before definitively stating whether these options are good for ED. Before trying any of these treatments, talk with a healthcare professional to see what will be best for you and to rule out any illnesses that might be causing your ED.

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of ED, it may be best to reach out to your healthcare professional if you have had trouble achieving or maintaining an erection several times over the course of a few weeks. ED is a common health issue, especially as you age, and your doctor will be familiar with many of the current treatment methods.

However, if you aren’t ready to sit down and discuss your concerns just yet, you can explore over-the-counter herbal supplements, like horny goat weed, as long as you stay within the manufacturer’s recommended dosage.

It’s worth noting that if you begin to see side effects from the supplement — like slower blood clotting or lowered blood pressure — consider discontinuing use and talking with your doctor, as horny goat weed might be interacting poorly with other medications you may be taking.

Finally, if you have been taking an herbal supplement, like horny goat weed, and aren’t seeing improvements in your ED symptoms, your doctor can discuss exploring other supplements, lifestyle changes, or medications that may help.

The following includes frequently asked questions about horny goat weed.

Does horny goat weed make you bigger?

No, there is no evidence that horny goat weed can increase penis size. In fact, there is little proof of any supplement that can increase a person’s penis size and only minimal or temporary benefits can be seen from techniques like penis stretching. Horny goat weed has been studied as a possible treatment for ED but isn’t believed to increase length or size.

What does horny goat weed do?

Horny goat weed contains a chemical compound called icariin that can help promote blood flow and treat various cardiovascular diseases. One of the biggest health issues that icariin can treat is erectile dysfunction (ED) by counteracting the protein phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) enzyme that interferes with blood flow to the penis and prevents an erection. By inhibiting PDE5 , the symptoms of ED can be reduced over time.

However, horny goat weed may not work for everyone, and using it can result in side effects or adverse interactions with other medications you may be taking. Before starting an herbal supplement like horny goat weed, consider talking with a medical professional for advice.

Does horny goat weed work?

There is evidence that horny goat weed can treat erectile dysfunction (ED) as well as some cardiovascular diseases . While there isn’t a large body of evidence or reliable studies to support its overall effectiveness, researchers have found that it shows promising results.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of ED, you may want to consider trying horny goat weed, especially because it’s available over the counter and doesn’t require a prescription. But if you are not finding that your symptoms improve after 2 or 3 weeks of taking the supplement, it may be best to talk with a healthcare professional so they can help you build a more effective or targeted treatment plan.

The verdict is mixed on the effectiveness of horny goat weed. It appears to have some beneficial properties, but more research is needed to learn if it’s effective and safe for the general public.

If you’re experiencing ED, talk with your doctor before choosing any treatment options.

Last medically reviewed on March 17, 2023

What’s to know about horny goat weed?

Horny goat weed is a traditional Chinese medicinal herb. Some claim it can help treat erectile dysfunction and osteoporosis.

People used the herb as an alternative medication for:

Human research data to support the use of horny goat weed is limited at best. However, some anecdotal evidence and animal and cell studies claim health benefits.

This article explores the uses, dosages, and side effects of horny goat weed.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common problem affecting people of all ages, particularly those over 40 . Estimates claim that 30-50 million people in the United States experience ED. At times, people may experience psychological conditions, such as depression or anxiety, that may cause or contribute to ED.

Many people claim that horny goat weed can be a natural remedy for ED. However, these claims are often anecdotal, and research is lacking.

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An older study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine assessed the effects of horny goat weed on nerve damage in animals and cellular trials. The researchers reported that icariin, the active component of horny goat weed, might show positive and promising effects in treating ED resulting from nerve injury.

Although there is some evidence that horny goat weed may help treat the cellular mechanisms of ED, additional research is necessary.

At this time, there is not enough research to confirm the safety of horny goat weed during or after pregnancy. A 2020 paper published in Medicine did, however, evaluate its potential application as a treatment for infertility.

The findings suggest that horny goat weed may improve endometrial thickness in people with a thin endometrium. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus.

An endometrium less than 7 millimeters (mm) during ovulation may make embryo implantation more difficult. The researchers cite the need for more comprehensive studies.

Horny goat weed and breastfeeding

There are also unknowns about nursing while supplementing with horny goat weed. The Department of Health and Human Services advises against herbal supplements while breastfeeding or chestfeeding.

Studies have yet to identify the potential risks of horny goat weed consumption in pregnancy on fetuses, newborns, and children so a person should not use it.

Horny goat weed may have other potential benefits. However, research into other uses primarily involves animal and cellular studies and there is a lack of definitive human evidence to confirm many of its uses.

For example, a 2017 review found that horny goat weed may have antiosteoporosis properties in rats menopausal rats.

Other cell research has revealed the following possible effects :

  • anticancer effects
  • radiosensitizing effects
  • reversal of multidrug resistance in some tumor cells

Atherosclerosis is a condition where the arteries in the neck harden. For people with atherosclerosis, a mixture containing horny goat weed may be beneficial and result in improved symptoms and clinical tests.

People with hay fever may experience symptom relief from an herbal preparation featuring horny goat weed, according to older findings cited in ISRN Allergy .

However, those in the study took a supplement containing several other herbs, making it difficult to assess the value of horny goat weed for allergies on its own.

As with any medications, herbs, and supplements, it is important for people to speak with their doctor before using horny goat weed. A doctor can work out its safety and dosage based on an individual’s needs and medical history.

Alternative medication should not take the place of traditional medication. People should also follow recommendations from their primary care practitioner.

As with any medication or herbal supplement, some people may experience side effects or adverse reactions when using horny goat weed. Possible side effects may include:

  • breathing problems
  • racing heart
  • increased energy
  • sweating
  • feelings of being hot

It is important for people to speak with a doctor about these or any other side effects that occur with the use of horny goat weed.

Horny goat weed may have negative interactions with certain medications, including:

  • warfarin
  • amitriptyline
  • cyclosporin
  • phenytoin
  • glyceryl trinitrate and other nitrates
  • estrogen
  • clarithromycin and erythromycin
  • drugs causing hypotension

People should not take horny goat weed if they:

  • have hormone-sensitive cancer, as the herb has been shown to promote estrogen production
  • have heart disease, as it can potentially lead to rapid, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and excitability
  • have a known sensitivity to Epimedium
  • are taking aromatase inhibitors such as anastrozole, exemestane, and letrozole
  • a doctor advises against it

Anyone considering using horny goat weed should discuss it with their doctor first. Health experts can determine if horny goat weed is right for someone and what the appropriate dosing would be.

There have not been enough studies to recommend the use of this herb and to ensure its safety.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other government agencies do not monitor the quality, purity, or safety of herbs and extra caution is recommended.

More studies are needed to guarantee safety and identify potential side effects. If anyone does purchase herbs, they should be sure to buy from a known and reputable source.

Horny goat weed is commonly used as an alternative herbal medicine for ED.

The herb has ties to traditional Chinese medicine. However, clinical studies on the purported benefits of horny goat weed have yet to confirm its efficacy.

Last medically reviewed on April 19, 2022

  • Men’s Health
  • Vascular
  • Sexual Health / STDs
  • Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine