Barrenwort Extract Benefits for Men’s Sexy Health
When we face a health problem, we have to make a difficult choice — whether to use pharmaceutical drugs or try the dietary supplements with herbal extracts. Lots of people believe that Mother Nature supplies all humans with everything they need. They argue that people do not have to reinvent the wheel, but rather just employ the remedies that are growing from the ground. Men’s health is not an exception, and there is hardly a culture on our planet that did not find a plant or animal product that enhances male fertility, libido, and erection.
Its official name is Epimedium grandiflorum, or simply Epimedium, by the name of the whole genus. It includes 15 species, and the common names of this healing herb are numerous:
- Barrenwort, this name was given to E. grandiflorum because earlier people thought it can cause barrenness (the old term for sterility).
- The name “Horny Goat Weed” is a bright illustration of the common use of the plant, which we are sure does not need any explanation.
- Bishop’s hat and fairy wings, these names seem to have been given for the form and color of its flower;
- Chinese people call it Yin Yang Huo.
Epimedium lives for several years; it is a semi-evergreen plant with flowers that consist of four petals. The color of the flowers can be yellow, velvet or lavender.
Many people cultivate Barrenwort for its pleasant appearance.
The Chinese were wise people, as they were the first who noticed the efficacy of the aerial parts and roots of the Horny Goat Weed to enhance sexual desire and bring back boners to men who have problems in the bedroom. It was more than two millennia ago that the goats really helped people to see the advantageous capacities of this plant. The legend says that some herder noticed that the animals became sexually aroused when they ate the herbs of the Berberidaceae family. With years, Yin Yang Huo gained the reputation of the effective remedy for men’s health. Is it only a legend? How does this plant help males normalize their intimate life? We will tell you about it in this article.
Barrenwort (Epimedium) Effects
First of all, we have to say that the effects of Epimedium are not clinically studied and proven, so it is not a licensed drug. It is sold as a dietary supplement in the forms of a powder, capsules with the extract of the plant, or liquid tinctures. It is not available in the form of injection or paste. These medicinal products are usually made of the stems, leaves and seeds of the plant.
All of them are believed to produce the comprehensive effects on the human body:
- first of all, Barrenwort extract increases blood flow and enhances the vasodilation. This action was observed not only in the penis, but also in lungs, heart and brain;
- many people report that it is normalizes arterial tension and helps with cardiovascular disorders. It also decreases the pulmonary hypertension caused by some toxins;
- Epimedium is often taken as the diuretic drug. Some of the oldest indications of Barrenwort are various kidney disorders;
- the active compounds of E. grandiflorum provide the normalization of the hormonal level;
- Barrenwort has the neuroprotective, antioxidant and antidepressant properties;
- in China, Yin Yang Huo is thought to be a remedy that saves and increases the life energy.
The list of Barrenwort effects can be prolonged, as the research is still ongoing and humanity has not discovered all of its curative properties yet. By virtue of all these actions, our medicinal herb is used for various indications, which we will review later. Let’s take a deeper look at the method of operation of Epimedium in our organisms.
How Does This Herb Work?
We have already mentioned that the mechanism of action of Barrenwort extract is not fully understood. Nevertheless, its chemical structure was studied well enough, and we know the organic compounds that seem to produce the main effects of the drug. Epimedium contains over 30 constituents, e.g. alkaloids, sterols, polysaccharides, and prenylflavonoids. The predominant curative activity of the herb seems to be promoted by the prenylated flavonol glycoside called icariin. Usually, the extracts of Horny Goat Weed are standardized according to the concentration of this bioactive compound.
Our bodies produce the endogenous substance known as cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP for shortness.
This organic chemical is a multifunctional agent that carries out various missions:
- controls the apoptosis of the cells, preventing their unprogrammed death or destruction;
- in muscles, it provides the metabolism of glycogen, thus providing our bodies with energy;
- in the liver, it increases the release of glucose, which is necessary for other organs;
- induces the fight-or-flight reaction;
- assists the signal transmission between the cells;
- the main effect of cGMP is to relax the smooth muscles. These tissues are found on the walls of vessels, guts, breathing organs, womb, bladder and urinary tract, eyes and skin.
As you see, it is an extremely important bioproduct that regulates the normal functioning of our bodies. To synthesize cGMP, we need another biological messenger, nitric oxide (NO), which activates the production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate. In its turn, the enzyme known as PDE5 (cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase type 5) breaks down cGMP and stops its action.
Now you are asking yourself — how does this information apply to Barrenwort? Icariin is directly related to all these processes. First, because it stimulates the synthesis of NO, and second — because it does not let PDE5 perform its action. This mechanism is very close to that of such pills as Viagra or Cialis, these drugs belong to the PDE5 inhibitors family. They relax the walls of the vessels in the penis and promote blood flow to genitals, providing a hard and long erection, enough for successful sexual intercourse. It is important to know that NO is released in the penis only when men are sexually excited, either due to the tactual sensations or emotional arousal. Thus, the drugs for erectile dysfunction work only when their performance is required.
In addition, icariin has shown its effectiveness to increase the testosterone activity in rats. The ongoing studies promise to prove this activity in humans too. Another animal research, conducted by the Chinese medical professionals in 2006, has found the Horny Goat Weed extract to normalize the cortisol level.
Icariin protects the dopaminergic neurons from damage, as well as increases the level of neurotransmitters that are responsible for our alertness, energy, and memory: dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline.
It also was noticed that it performed the serotonergic function, inducing the release of estrogen, normalizing the sugar and hemoglobin concentration in blood, etc.
Usage and Benefits of Barrenwort Extract
Obviously, Epimedium should have one of the longest list of medicinal uses with such a huge range of curative effects. And it does. To name but a few:
- various problems with sexual life;
- adverse health conditions of postmenopausal women;
- asthma, bronchitis, coughing. These effects are achieved thanks to the anti-inflammatory capacities of the herb, it was proved during the animal tests run by Chinese researchers in 2010 and 2011;
- rheumatism, pain in joints, osteoporosis;
- liver illnesses. It was proven in vitro that icariin prevents damage to the liver from toxins. The experiments on ducks, which were infected with hepatitis, documented the significant improvement in those that were administered with icariin;
- different types of cancer can also be treated with the herb extract. As you already know, icariin regulates the apoptosis, which is a cell death. When fighting cancer, this property of the drug comes to help. For instance, icariin induces the destruction of the malignant cells in liver, according to Cancer Letters from December 8, 2010. The same mechanism was involved to stop the formation of tumors in gallbladder, to combat leukemia, breast and stomach cancer, etc.;
- tiredness, mind fog, lack of energy and stress;
- icariin seems to alleviate the symptoms of autoimmune diseases;
- as a result of increased blood circulation, icariin assists the delivery of the necessary nutrients to various parts of human bodies. Among others, it helps to cure injuries and grow vessels and muscles;
- other less important uses, like treating acne or jetlag.
The early studies suggest that Barrenwort leaf extract exerts a positive influence on the immune system, activating the natural protection of our bodies and even attenuating the degrading actions of HIV.
Many of these uses have to be properly studied during clinical trials. Nevertheless, some benefits of Epimedium preparations are well-known already and have been proven through practice by thousands of users.
Sexual Dysfunctions and PE
“Sexual dysfunctions” is a wide term, and first of all we must define those which are commonly treated with the Horny Goat Weed medications:
- erectile dysfunction;
- premature ejaculation;
- loss of sexual drive.
ED (shortened from erectile dysfunction) is also known as impotence. It happens when a penis does not get hard at all, or the erection is too weak for normal sexual activity. Sometimes, men cannot keep a boner until the coitus is finished, and this problem also falls under the category of ED symptoms. Erectile disorders can be caused by various factors, e.g. injuries and surgeries, psychological conditions, pernicious habits, certain diseases, and some medications. Elderly men most commonly face this problem too. Unfortunately, PDE5 inhibitors cannot help with all causes of ED. In some cases, these drugs are strictly contraindicated, e.g. when a patient suffers from Peyronie’s disease. However, every man with sexual problems can check if he should take Epimedium supplements. Everyone knows what “morning wood” is. If you experience the nocturnal erection, but cannot get it up when having sex — Horny Goat Weed will help you to bring your intimate life back to normal. Working on a molecular level, icariin helps blood flood into the sponge-like tissues of the penis and make it hard. Moreover, with the extended performance of cGMP, the erection lasts as long as you need. Additionally, icariin prolongs the life of the cells of the smooth muscles in the penis.
PE is a common abbreviation for premature ejaculation. This disorder is characterized by regular rapid orgasms and emission of semen. Men with chronic PE cannot make love longer than a minute, and in particularly nasty forms of the disease they ejaculate before penetration, after the slightest physical stimulation of penis, or even without it. Usually, premature ejaculation is treated with dapoxetine medications, branded as Priligy, Westoxetin, etc. In 2011, scientists from the Erciyes University in Turkey documented the prolonged ejaculatory latency in men who were administered with PDE5 inhibitors. Thus, Barrenwort can be effective for this problem, too.
High testosterone levels, induced by icariin administration, helps to regain the amorous drive. Thus, low libido can be treated with Horny Goat Weed, it has been demonstrated by several trials. All the more, experiments on male rats have shown the efficacy of this herb to increase the production of semen. This action was also associated with the capacity of Epimedium to scale up the men’s sex hormone in blood.
Barrenwort for Bodybuilders
Icariin activates NO not only in penile tissues, but it also induces vasodilation in all parts of our organisms. Intensive blood circulation carries the necessary elements to muscles, as well. Oxygen, nutrients, vitamins, building materials, and hormones are quickly delivered to the areas where they are required. Moreover, Barrenwort drugs do it without causing hypertension. This is why it is so popular among athletes, especially bodybuilders. They take it as a remedy for enhanced muscle building and for a shorter time necessary for recovery after workouts. The nutritional supplements with Horny Goat Weed reduce the aching muscle fever that occurs after heavy exercise loads.
Don’t Allow Bone Loss
Two types of cells that naturally occur in our bodies and play the predominant role in formation and destruction of our bones are osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Simply put, the former builds the bone carcass and the latter breaks it down. Both actions are necessary for the growth, remodeling, and repair of the skeleton.
There were numerous studies conducted to reveal the relations between the administration of icariin and the reduction of bone loss. Most of them gave positive results. Icariin induces the action of proteins and enzymes that are essential for the bone and joint building, such as bone morphogenetic protein 2, osteocalcin, alkaline phosphatase, osteoprotegerin, etc. At the same time, it inhibits the performance of another protein, the osteoclast differentiation factor, which promotes the formation and activity of the cells that degrade the bones. Thus, icariin produces a double effect — protects the bones from breakdown and induces the skeleton building.
If You Want to Improve Memory
Icariin improves memory and cognitive capacities, the evidence of these effects has been recorded during the numerous animal studies. Mainly, this is done by activating nitric oxide and cGMP. Vasodilation and enhanced blood flow induces the supply of oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. It also helps to eliminate certain compounds that cause damage of the brain cells. For example, the peptides called amyloid beta (Abeta) play a predominant role in plaque formation in Alzheimer’s patients. The medical researchers from Zunyi, China, tested icariin on rats with this disease, and it was found to be effective to decrease the content of Abeta and wash it away from the brain. Animals, which were treated with Epimedium extract, demonstrated an improvement in memory and learning.
An early signal of different mental disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are caused by the defectiveness of the special tau proteins, which are one of the key compounds of normal cognitive performance.
Barrenwort’s active constituent inhibits the process of the protein destruction. This curative virtue of Epimedium was noted by Korean scientists in 2010. The most recent research, published in January 2018 on the science platform Frontiers, claims that icariin prevents the loss of the dopaminergic neurons.
In addition, lots of other studies show that Barrenwort works as an anti-toxin, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant agent in the brain tissues. It assists in the recovery of the central nervous system after a stroke. Summing up, icariin provides healthy brain perfusion and protects the nerve cells from various damages, intoxication and inflammation. Obviously, it helps individuals with different diseases and impairments keep up their mental performance.
Icariin inhibits the processes in our organisms which are associated with aging. Two enzymes, sirtuin 1 and sirtuin 6, are known to regulate the deacetylation of proteins, cellular longevity, and stress responses. They are involved in DNA repair and antioxidative protection, release of the free energy, and anti-inflammatory work. Several observations showed the direct correlation between aging and the levels of SIRT1 and SIRT6. The animal models with the disrupted sirtuins demonstrated rapid progeria, as well as the decreased level of these enzymes that were documented in the aging nerve tissues. Icariin increases both enzymes, thus providing the anti-aging effects. Epimedium will not make you younger, but it can help you combat the negative influence of stress, toxins, and oxidants that cause early aging.
Horny Goat Weed lowers the cortisol level, which is a stress hormone. High levels of cortisol are released when we are mentally or physically stressed. Unhealthy hyperactivity of hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, the neuroendocrine system, which includes the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands, leads to chronic increased cortisol. This system regulates our emotions, energy, sexuality, digestion, immunity, and responses to stress. With the hyperactive HPA axis and unhealthy hormonal disbalance, people get anxious and stressed, and begin to lack energy and motivation. During animal trials, icariin reduced corticotropin-releasing hormone and cytokines, which overstimulate the HPA axis.
Hence, the regular administration of Epimedium is effective for stress and fatigue, and this treatment attenuates anxiety and depression. Actually, it is helpful for other symptoms of prolonged excessive cortisol level, e.g. insomnia, weak muscles, extra weight, etc. Barrenwort regains the feeling of well-being, self-esteem and motivation. Sexual desire and zest for life can be restored with the help of icariin, too. Increased energy gives strengths to cope with the professional duties and home chores, while higher stress resistance helps you stay optimistic and enjoy life.
Positive Impact on Your Mood
Obviously, this anti-stress activity of Horny Goat Weed cannot help but improve your mood. With no stress and anxiety, you feel happier and stay positive in hard situations. The serotonergic and dopaminergic actions of icariin also play their positive roles in mood enhancement. Taking Epimedium preparations, you will stay motivated and enjoy your everyday activities, as well as improve your intimate life and mental performance.
Benefits for Women’s Health
Women can also find their benefits in icariin treatment. Women can elevate their libido with the help of the Epimedium supplements, get some extra life energy, and relax. As an aphrodisiac, antidepressant, and stress-reliever, it is effective both for women and men. Icariin regulates cortisol and promotes the activity of the neurotransmitters in males and females; it helps to do sports and to get rid of fatigue.
Additionally, women can normalize their estrogen level with the help of the drug. It helps to eliminate cholesterol from the blood and improve reproductive functions. Due to its estrogenergic activity, Barrenwort mitigates the risk of osteoporosis in women after menopause. Postmenopausal women who took the Epimedium drugs for 2 years experienced the significant improvement in bone deterioration. The detailed study of this effect of icariin was published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research in 2007. A couple of years later, Chinese scientists confirmed that through the rat models. Ovariectomized animals showed the significant alleviation of symptoms of the bone disease.
Possible Side Effects
When taken correctly, Epimedium preparations do not result in any adverse reactions. The preparations should be taken by mouth, and the safe periods of the drug administration are between 6 months and 2 years.
You should read and follow the instructions in the package leaflet. Usually, the extracts of Horny Goat Weed are referred to as possibly safe, with few side effects induced by exceeded dosage and prolonged intake. It is time to worry when you experience such symptoms as:
- dizziness, headache and disorientation;
- nausea, vomiting, indigestion, thirst;
- irregular or increased heart rate;
- trouble breathing;
- nose bleeding;
- muscle spasms;
- emotional and mood problems.
Take into account that the concentration of the active constituent can be different in different supplements. Usually, it is indicated on the bottle, and the daily intake is highly dependent on this measure. Do not take more capsules than is recommended in the guidelines, and adhere to the instructions unless your doctor prescribes you a higher dose.
Is Barrenwort Herb Safe?
There are certain precautions to consider before using supplements with Horny Goat Weed. The common practice is to tell your physician about your intention to start taking any new medications. The doctor knows your detailed health condition. Certain diagnosis or drugs are contraindicated to icariin:
- we do not recommend pregnant women use the supplements, as it is unknown how they influence the fetus and expectant mother;
- breastfeeding women should not take Horny Goat Weed, as there is no clinical data about the effects of the active compounds on the baby and milk. In both cases, it is better to prefer safety;
- if you have problematic blood coagulability, you should avoid Epimedium medications, as icariin slows clotting and it can make things worse. For the same reason, it is better to discontinue Barrenwort several days before the surgery and abstain from taking it until there is no risk of bleeding. These precautions are not based on clinical experience or scientific research, it follows as a logical consequence of the fact that icariin causes vasodilation and increases the circulation;
- Barrenwort lowers blood pressure (BP), so if you have chronic hypotension, it is better to stay away from it. You would not want to lower your arterial tension down to dangerous levels;
- there are types of oncologic diseases that are highly sensitive to estrogen. Women with malignant neoplasms must seek medical advice before taking Horny Goat Weed drugs.
As for other medicines, Epimedium should not be taken with drugs that lower BP and anticoagulants, as they can dangerously increase each other’s action.
Otherwise, Barrenwort seems to be a safe curative herb with numerous effects. Do not overdose, do not take it longer than it is recommended, and talk to your medical adviser — this is all you have to take care of before starting to administer icariin. Also, you should be very careful when combining Epimedium with other herbal supplements, it is better to ask for professional instructions before combining it with nootropics, e.g. L-theanine or ginkgo biloba, and antihypertensive preparations, like turmeric and danshen.
Should I Try Barrenwort (Epimedium)?
The herbal aids with Horny Goat Weed extracts are available in most online drugstores, and here are the top bestselling products:
- Horny Goat Weed Extract by Now Food: one capsule of this supplement contains 750 mg of Epimedium extract with 3% icariin concentration and 150 mg of maca root;
- Planetary Herbals manufactures the capsules with 1 g of 10 percent icariin extract, and 200 mg of the ground leaves and stems of Barrenwort;
- Horny Goat Weed Extract, produced by the company Advance Physician Formula. One capsule includes 1 gram of the Epimedium grandiflorum root extract, 20% of icariin.
There are a lot of other brands available for sale, and a huge variety of web stores that sell them, so it will not be a problem to find an internet resource where you can buy a Horny Goat Weed preparation.
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