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Horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Acetylicariin, acuminatoside, anhydroicaritin, apigenin, baohuoside I, baohuoside II, barrenwort, benzene, Berberidaceae (family), bishop's hat, breviflavone B, buxueyangyan mixture, caohuoside B, chrysoeriol, desmethylanhydroicaritin, desmethylicaritin, diphylloside A, diphylloside B, Epimedii folium, Epimedii herba, epimedin A, epimedin B, epimedin C, Epimedium acuminatum Franch., Epimedium brevicornum Maxim., Epimedium cremeum, Epimedium coactum, Epimedium davidii, Epimediumdiphyllum, Epimedium fargesii, Epimedium flavone, Epimedium grandiflorum Morr., Epimedium grandiflorum var. flavescens, Epimedium hunanense, Epimedium koreanum Nakai, Epimedium leishanense, Epimedium leptorrhizum, Epimedium myrianthum, Epimedium pubescens Maxim., Epimedium sagittatum (Sieb. et Zucc.) Maxim., Epimedium sempervirens, Epimedium truncatum, Epimedium wushanense T.S.Ying, Epimedii, epimedokoreanin B, epimedokoreanoside I, epimedoside A, epimedoside E, fairy wings, herba Epimedii, huichun zhibao, hyperin, hyperoside, icariin, icarisid I, icarisid II, icaritin, ikarisoside A, ikarisoside B, ikarisoside C, ikarisoside F, Japanese epimedium, kaempferol, korepimedoside A, korepimedoside B linolenic acid, luteolin, magnoflorine, oleic acid, O-methylicariin, palmitic acid, prenyflavone, quercetin, rowdy lamb herb, sagittatoside A, sagittatoside B, sterols, syringaresinol, tannin, vitamin E, wanepimedoside A, xian ling pi, xianlinpi, xin-qin granule (long-spur epimedium), yangheye, yin yang huo, zuo-gui-wan.
  • Selected combination products: Enzyte® (Epimedium, niacin, Panax ginseng, Tribulus terrestris, Avena sativa (oat), zinc oxide, Lepidium meyenii (maca), Muira puama, Ginkgo biloba, L-arginine, and saw palmetto), Equiguard® (Epimedium brevicornum, Morindae officinalis, fructus Rosa laevigatae, Rubus chingii, Schisandra chinensis, Ligustrum lucidum, Cuscuta chinensis, Psoralea corylifolia, Astragalus membranaceus), Tangshenqing (TSQ) (Astragalus membranaceus, Panax notoginseng, Epimedium brevicornum, etc.), tian-huang-ling (larvae of silkworm with botrytis, milk vetch, long-spur epimedium), zuo-gui-wan (rehmannia, Chinese yam, wolfberry fruit, dogwood fruit, cyathula root, dodder seed, antler glue, tortoise plastron glue, Epimedium, morinda root).

Background

  • The leaves of as many as 15 Epimedium species are used to make yin yang huo, an herb in traditional Chinese medicine. The name literally means "obscene goat leaves of pulse plants," which is translated as "horny goat weed" in English. Epimedium species that are used to make horny goat weed grow in China and Korea. The leaf of the plant is most commonly used as medicine, although other parts may sometimes be used.
  • Horny goat weed is rarely used as a single ingredient. It is traditionally used as an ingredient in a tonic to help promote health.
  • There is a lack of well-designed studies to support the use of horny goat weed. The herb has been studied for possible benefits in clogged arteries, menopause, and sexual disorders. More research is needed to determine its safety and effectiveness.

Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.