Super goat weed is an herb belonging to the Epimedium genus of flowering plants, many of which are believed to provide aphrodisiac effects. This is likely why super goat weed is also known by several other names that reference this characteristic, such as rowdy lamb herb and horny goat weed. In Chinese medicine, goat weed is named Yin Yang Huo in honor of the mythical yin yang creature that achieved 100 sexual climaxes each day.
Enhanced Sexual Performance
While you may not have heard of super goat weed before, you’ve probably heard of male performance enhancing medications like sildenafil, or Viagra, and vardenafil, or Levitra. The interesting thing about super goat weed is that it produces the same effects in men with erectile dysfunction as these drugs do. In fact, the only difference between the two is the fact that drug therapies for erectile dysfunction are relatively new, while super goat weed has been in use for thousands of years.
Like male performance enhancing drugs, the primary target of super goat weed is type 5 phosphodiesterase, or PDE-5, an enzyme that breaks down cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP. This is important for you to know because cGMP depletion is the deflating factor involved in erectile dysfunction. An erection cannot occur without the release of sufficient amounts of nitric oxide to dilate blood vessels. If there isn’t enough cGMP available, nitric oxide release can’t happen. Super goat weed contains a substance called icariin, which, according to researchers at the University of California, effectively suppresses PDE-5.
Icariin, the so-called active ingredient in super goat weed, also appears to stimulate osteoblasts, specialized cells involved in building bone. Chinese scientists have demonstrated this effect in rats given flavonoid extracts of super goat weed. The results of this study suggest that super goat weed may treat or prevent osteoporosis.
This herb may also provide anti-cancer effects. A 2004 study conducted by the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that the water extract of super goat weed inhibits the growth of new blood vessels in tumors, while an earlier study reported that extracts of this herb caused cancer cells to become stable again in test tube samples.
Potential Side Effects
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the potent effects of super goat weed are tempered by combining it with other herbs. Otherwise, “hot” symptoms may develop, such as irritability or irregular heart rhythm. High dosages or long-term use of super goat weed may decrease thyroid function. This herb may also increase the effects of oral corticosteroids.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Effects of Icariin on Phosphodiesterase-5 Activity In Vitro and Cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate Level in Cavernous Smooth Muscle Cells
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Osteoblastic Proliferative Activity of Epimedium Brevicornum Maxim
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Angiogenesis and Anti-Angiogenesis Activity of Chinese Medicinal Herbal Extracts
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Effects of Icariin on the Differentiation of HL-60 Cells
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Influence of Yang-Restoring Herb Medicines Upon Metabolism of Thyroid Hormone in Normal Rats and a Drug Administration Schedule