Horny Goat Weed: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More

Feeling horny but it's not 'showing'? You may benefit from horny goat weed.

Horny goat weed is a supplement that you may have already heard of and is often linked to supporting men with sexual health problems, such as ED. But what exactly is horny goat weed, how can you buy it and ultimately, does it actually work?

What is horny goat weed?

Horny goat weed – also known as barrenwort, bishop’s hat, Yin Yang Huo or fairy wings – is an over-the-counter supplement derived from the Epimedium genus of flowering plants. Epimedium is native to China, although it has been found elsewhere in Asia and in some areas of the Mediterranean region.

The main active ingredient of horny goat weed is icariin, a chemical compound that is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat erectile dysfunction and enhance erectile function. However, there is little clinical evidence to support these claims.

What does horny goat weed do?

Time to settle down for a biology lesson and for us to discuss erections. As Healthline states, when you’re sexually stimulated, blood flows into your penis via three tube-like cylinders. This blood flow is triggered as a result of nitric oxide signalling a chemical called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), which in turn causes the smooth muscle to relax.

But, for someone suffering with erectile dysfunction (ED), an enzyme called protein phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) interferes with this process and ultimately prevents blood from flowing through the arteries, resulting in no erection.

Horny goat weed, or rather, the main ingredient icariin, claims to inhibit PDE5 from preventing blood flow into the penis, essentially reversing its effect. The result? You should be able to get an erection. Horny goat weed is said to work in a very similar way to Viagra.

Does horny goat weed work?

While there are personal accounts of horny goat weed proving effective, clinical research into the herbal remedy is relatively scarce. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine studied the effects of icariin on rats that ultimately found positive results for the use of icariin as a treatment for ED as a result of nerve damage. However, as should be obvious, this study was performed on rats and not humans, so the results can’t necessarily be applied to humans, too.

Horny goat weed vs viagra

A separate study conducted in 2008 looked into the effects of icariin on inhibiting PDE5 in humans and ultimately determined that it was, indeed, effective, i.e. it can help prevent erectile dysfunction. However, the same study also found sildenafil, the main ingredient of Viagra, was 80 times more potent than icariin, suggesting it is a more effective and potentially more reliable method of preventing ED.

Horny goat weed side effects

As with any supplement, there can be potential side effects of horny goat weed, however they are relatively minor by comparison and will be influenced by the dosage you take. If you take a horny goat weed in moderation over the course of a few months, you’re unlikely to experience any side effects.

If, however, you take a large dosage of horny goat weed, then it can potentially cause noseblleds, dizziness and rapid heartbeat, according to Healthline.

How to take horny goat weed

It is pretty easy to get your hands on horny goat weed, since it is sold over the counter. But it comes in various forms, including tablet, capsule, powder and tea. The recommended dosage will vary depending on which form you buy.

Horny goat weed is to be taken daily, even if you don’t plan to have sex, and will continue to work in the background even if you miss a day.

Horny goat weed reviews

Because horny goat weed can be bought over the counter, it also means it can be bought online, from online stores such as iHerb, Chemist Warehouse, Woolworths and Coles in Australia. These online stores allow customers to leave reviews, to help you decide if it is the right product for you.

Reviews of the NOW Foods horny goat weed extract are incredibly positive, with customers claiming it to be “very effective,” and “The effect shows within the first week of my usage and I definitely felt like in my 20s again.”

As with any supplement you put into your body, you should always consult with a health professional before taking horny goat weed. However, it should be safe to consume for the majority of men. Whether or not it works for you remains to be seen.

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