Horny Goat Weed Review: The Best Sex Drive Booster?

Horny Goat Weed Review: The Best Sex Drive Booster?


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Testosterone levels in men are dropping globally, along with a consequent drop in libido, and many men are seeking natural solutions to these health problems. A significant percentage of consumers prefer avoiding pharmaceutical male enhancement treatments like Bluechew, and many consumers consider horny goat weed when looking for a natural sex drive and erectile dysfunction (ED) supplement.

But is horny goat weed actually proven in clinical research to improve sexual function in men? What about in women? Is the supplement safe? And what's the best horny goat weed supplement?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review clinical studies on horny goat weed to give our take on whether it's likely to be effective for improving sex drive and sexual performance in both men and women.

We'll also document our concerns about the safety of some of the popular horny goat weed supplements on the market, and explain whether it matters what time of day this supplement is taken.

Is Horny Goat Weed Proven to Work?

Horny goat weed, botanical name Epimedium, is a plant native to China. According to a medical review, it received its informal name when a Chinese goat herder noticed increased sexual activity in goats after they consumed the plant.

Horny goat weed has been studied in legitimate medical trials testing its effects on sex drive, and the supplement does have some research-backed benefits.

A medical review on horny goat weed published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that the plant improved testosterone levels in animal studies and improved sperm quality.

A 2005 clinical trial found that icariin (the active chemical constituent in horny goat weed) may be effective for improving erection quality in rats, but the results weren’t very conclusive.

Another medical study found that icariin may be effective for ED because its inhibition of an enzyme called PDE5 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 above-linked study was an in vitro study, meaning it was a test tube study, so the results are weaker than a study using human or animal subjects.

One interesting fact about horny goat weed is that there's  more significant research suggesting the cardioprotective effects of icariin than the benefits to sexual function. The above-linked medical review from Frontiers in Pharmacology explains that 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 consider horny goat weed to be potentially effective for improving sex drive and erections, but there isn't enough evidence with human trial participants for us to say so conclusively. The early research on horny goat weed's main chemical compound for cardiovascular support is promising.

Horny Goat Weed Contamination Issues

Horny goat weed supplements ConsumerLab test results

Horny goat weed is typically sourced in China, which is a country with higher levels of environmental contamination than the U.S. on average. Many horny goat weed supplements on the market are either contaminated or inaccurately labeled.

An independent laboratory testing company called ConsumerLab tested three different horny goat weed supplements (one of which is shown above) and failed all three of them for different reasons.

The first horny goat weed supplement from a brand called Maximum International failed testing because the plant was inaccurately labeled and all plant parts weren't listed. The second supplement failed testing because it was only 10% as potent as advertised. The third failed testing due to relatively high levels of lead.

These results illustrate our concern over sourcing horny goat weed supplements.

For consumers interested in purchasing a horny goat weed supplement, the product we recommend is Gaia Herbs Male Libido because Gaia Herbs is a high-quality brand that routinely passes ConsumerLab testing.

This is a blended supplement with other herbs for libido enhancement, but horny goat weed is the first-listed ingredient meaning it's included at the highest dose.

Interested consumers can check out Gaia Herbs Male Libido at this link to its official Amazon listing.

We want to note that we don't believe that horny goat weed is the best supplement for sex drive and sexual function, as we'll discuss later in the article.

Is Horny Goat Weed Effective For Women?

Horny goat weed isn’t only used by men. Many women take the supplement to enhance sex drive as well. But is it effective?

The early research doesn't look promising.

One clinical trial published in the Phytotherapy Research journal found that horny goat weed extract can increase estrogen levels in women, but this doesn't necessarily translate to increased sex drive.

The only other clinical trial we could find on horny goat weed supplementation in women was unrelated to sex drive, and found that the chemical compounds derived from the plant may help to prevent bone loss in menopausal women.

We can't locate any medical evidence that horny goat weed is effective for enhancing sexual function in women.

This doesn't mean it's ineffective, just that it hasn't been tested for this outcome.

Does Horny Goat Weed Cause 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 causes side effects when dosed appropriately, but we also can't find any long-term human trials.

Given that horny goat weed has been used by humans medicinally for thousands of years, we believe it’s likely to be safe for short-term use, but we definitely recommend checking with a doctor prior to using this supplement consistently over long periods of time.

In our opinion, the risk of side effects is greater from product contamination than from the plant itself when it comes to horny goat weed supplements. Regularly taking a supplement that's high in lead, for example, may cause symptoms of lead toxicity like confusion and irritability.

This is why it's so important for consumers who are set on purchasing a horny goat weed supplement to choose a high-quality manufacturer.

When Should I Take Horny Goat Weed?

Consumers are often curious about whether supplement timing matters in regard to horny goat weed.

We haven't come across any medical evidence that taking horny goat weed at a certain time of the day, or taking it with or without food, makes any difference.

Some supplements are more effective on an empty stomach or with food, or at certain times of the day, but horny goat weed doesn't appear to be one of them.

We recommend following the manufacturer's Suggested Use instructions which are on the product label. In the case of the Gaia Herbs supplement we recommended above, the label states to take one capsule three times per day. This suggests that supplementation should be spaced out over the course of the day.

Can Ginseng Improve Sex Drive?

Panax ginseng, which is a plant native to Asia, has been studied in various clinical trials for its ability to improve sex drive in men and women, and to improve erections in men.

A 2013 medical review on ginseng and male reproductive function found that with daily use, the supplement increased sex drive.

A clinical trial published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that panax ginseng supplementation increased sex drive by 13% in menopausal women. 

A clinical trial published in The Journal of Urology found that after eight weeks of treatment, erectile function scores were "significantly higher" in the ginseng group than the group taking placebo pills.

Illuminate Labs sells a panax ginseng extract supplement which is third-party tested to ensure label accuracy, potency and purity, and which contains no questionable additive ingredients.

Interested consumers can check out Illuminate Labs Panax Ginseng Extract at this link to the product page on our website, where the supplement can be purchased for only $15 on a subscription basis.

In our opinion, panax ginseng is a much safer supplement than horny goat weed due to the lack of sourcing issues and reduced risk of contamination.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

There is some medical research suggesting that horny goat weed can improve sex drive in men and improve erection quality, but we can't find much evidence that the herb is effective for enhancing libido in women.

We consider panax ginseng to be a better herbal supplement for sexual function, given that there is clinical research proving it effective for both sexes, and because there aren't as many sourcing issues related to product quality and contamination.

ConsumerLab tested three off-the-shelf horny goat weed supplements and none of them passed label accuracy and product contamination testing.

For consumers who are set on trying horny goat weed, we recommend Gaia Herbs as it's a high-quality brand that consistently passes ConsumerLab tests.

There doesn't appear to be a specific time of day that's optimal for taking horny goat weed supplements, and it doesn't matter whether the supplement is taken with or without food.




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