Herb of the Month: Horny Goat Weed

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The world has changed in many ways over the last decade. We are much more comfortable talking about health-related topics that were almost taboo for the longest time.

Many men today are reaching out for medications for erectile dysfunction, or ED. This is a new phenomenon, because for years it was a discussion that men rarely wanted to have, with a doctor, a spouse, or even with themselves. Fortunately, things have changed, and this is no longer an uncomfortable discussion.

Horny Goat Weed (HWG) is an herb with a name that instantly clues you in to some of its more common uses. Also known as Yin Yang Huo and Epimedium, this herb is commonly used by men looking for support in the bedroom. It just may be one of the oldest historic herbs used for sexual health and erectile problem support. It is found in writings that date back well over 2,000 years, and has traditionally been used in Chinese Medicine. According to folklore, the plant’s aphrodisiac benefits were discovered when a Chinese goat herder noticed increased sexual activity among his flock after they ate the plant.

As with many effective herbs throughout history, it is now used in countries around the world. And not just by men: There is growing evidence and feedback from women using it successfully as well.

HGW is a leafy flowering plant that comes from the Berberidaceae family, and is found in very high altitudes in Asia. Doses vary, and it is available in many forms including capsule, tablets, liquid tinctures, and teas. Although there is much information on this unique plant, and even though it has such a long history, the exact mechanisms behind its great effects are still a topic for discussion.

HGW is used to support balanced circulation to the outer extremities, which is one of the reasons it has been embraced as an erectile supporter and libido enhancer. It has many active constituents, but the one that has received the most attention is Icariin, which is known for its circulatory and free radical scavenging benefits.

Horny goat weed can interact with aspirin, blood thinners, and antidepressants, as well as thyroid conditions. HGW is also not recommended for use by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. As always, consumers should have a discussion with a healthcare
practitioner before supplementing.