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Horny Goat Weed Reviews: Natural ED Treatment?

Horny Goat Weed Reviews: Natural ED Treatment?


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.


Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Testosterone levels in men are dropping globally, along with a consequent drop in libido, and many men are seeking natural solutions to these environmental problems. A significant percentage of consumers prefer avoiding pharmaceutical male enhancement treatments like Bluechew, and horny goat weed has emerged as a top natural option for male sexual health.

In this article we’ll review the medical research behind horny goat weed to determine whether it’s a safe and effective option for fixing ED and other male performance issues.

What is Horny Goat Weed?

Horny goat weed, botanical name epimedium, is a plant native to China. It apparently received its name when a Chinese goat herder noticed increased sexual activity in the goats after they consumed the plants.

It can be taken as a tea or as a supplement in capsule or liquid extract form. 

Most medical studies on horny goat weed use a form standardized for icariin, which is the main chemical compound in the plant thought to provide most of the benefits. Most teas just raw botanical material (like crushed plant leaves), while supplements or liquid extracts are often standardized for icariin. 

Consumers seeking a more potent product should check the Supplement Facts label to determine whether a horny goat weed brand is standardized for icariin.

Horny goat weed is typically used for ED in men, along with libido enhancement.

Horny Goat Weed Benefits

To determine if horny goat weed really works as a natural form of male enhancement, we need to look at medical research studies.

Most medical studies are on icariin rather than horny goat weed, but a medical review of horny goat weed published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that the plant improved testosterone levels in animal studies and improved sperm quality.

An animal study on icariin found that it may be effective for improving erection quality, but the results weren’t very conclusive. The dose used in the study was measured as a percentage of bodyweight, but ranged from around 80-500 milligrams (mg) icariin for a human male equivalent.

Another medical study found that icariin may be effective for ED because it can inhibit the effects of an enzyme called PDE5, which increases blood flow to the penis. This is the same mechanism of action that makes pharmaceutical ED treatments like Viagra and Cialis effective. They belong to a class of drugs called PDE5-inhibitors.

The linked study was an in vitro study, meaning it was a test tube study, so the results are much weaker than a study done with live subjects.

One interesting thing we discovered when researching this article is there is more significant research suggesting the cardioprotective effects of icariin than the benefits to sexual function. The linked medical review from Frontiers in Pharmacology explains how icariin can mitigate blood vessel dysfunction and inflammation, and that it contains “multiple atheroprotective functions” meaning there are several ways it may benefit blood vessel health. 

Overall we find the research behind horny goat weed for ED and sexual dysfunction to be lacking. We can’t locate one single human study proving either horny goat weed or its active chemical compound icariin is effective for improving libido, sexual performance or ED.

Does Horny Goat Weed Work For Women?

Horny goat weed isn’t only used by men. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s recommended to women as well for libido enhancement.

Unfortunately these purported benefits don’t appear to be backed by scientific research. While one clinical trial found that horny goat weed extract could increase estrogen in menopausal women, and thereby hypothetically increase libido, there was no proof of this effect in the study.

We can’t locate one medical study, even in animals, suggesting that horny goat weed is effective for women’s sexual health. We conclude that horny goat weed isn’t beneficial for increasing libido in women and don’t recommend it.

Horny Goat Weed Side Effects

Horny goat weed appears to be a safe botanical compound based on the previously-linked medical reviews. We haven’t come across any research suggesting the herb has significant risk of adverse effects, but there also doesn’t appear to have been any long-term human trials on its safety and toxicity.

Given that this herb has been used by humans medicinally for thousands of years, we believe it’s likely to be safe, but would definitely recommend checking with your doctor prior to taking horny goat weed.

In our opinion, the biggest risk with buying horny goat weed products is the risk of an impure batch. Most horny goat weed is sourced from China, which is a country that’s rapidly improving their carbon footprint, but still one of the biggest polluters in the world. 

Many herbal teas and supplements can be contaminated with dangerous levels of heavy metals. We recommend asking the manufacturer for an updated test result of the product prior to purchase, to ensure that levels of contaminants like lead and mercury are below safety thresholds. 

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any horny goat weed product manufacturers that voluntarily supply this information.

Better Alternatives

For male consumers seeking natural ED and sexual health treatments, there are several herbal compounds which have more research backing their effectiveness than horny goat weed.

Panax ginseng has been proven in human studies to be effective for treating erectile dysfunction on average. The doses used in the above-linked research review ranged from 600 mg/day to 1,000 mg/day. 

Our panax ginseng extract is third-party tested to ensure label accuracy, potency, and purity in regards to heavy metals. We publish the test results right on the product page, and are the only supplement company doing so. Illuminate Labs Panax Ginseng Extract is dosed for nootropic benefit (200 mg/capsule), so consumers taking it for ED should speak with their doctor to establish a safe and effective dosage.

Tongkat ali is another herbal supplement that’s been shown in medical research to be potentially effective for treating ED. The linked study found that participants with poor erection quality benefited significantly from tonkgat ali extract at a dosage of 300 mg/day.

A medical study on an elderly population found that tongkat ali was an aphrodisiac, and also increased testosterone. The subjects were taking a 400 mg/day extract capsule for 5 weeks.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

We don’t recommend horny goat weed for treating ED as there’s not enough evidence backing its effectiveness. We also don’t recommend horny goat weed for libido enhancement in either men or women as the data is lacking.

We don’t believe that horny goat weed is likely to be harmful, and if consumers can find a tea or extract that’s proven to be low in contaminants, they can see if it has a beneficial effect on them.

Panax ginseng extract and tonkgat ali extract have human trials backing their effectiveness for male sexual health, and we believe both of these botanical compounds are superior alternatives to horny goat weed for ED and libido improvement.

We recommend strongly that patients experiencing ED see their doctor prior to using herbal treatments, as ED can be a sign of cardiovascular issues and it’s important to get a doctor's approval of supplements, to ensure they don’t interact with any medication being prescribed.




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