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 enhancements 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 proven in clinical studies to improve sexual function in men? What about in women? Is the herb 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 that has been studied for its effects on sex drive in many clinical trials.

According to a medical review, this herb received its informal name when a Chinese goat herder noticed increased sexual activity in goats after they consumed the plant.

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 it inhibits an enzyme called PDE5, which can increase blood flow to the penis.

This is the same mechanism of action that makes pharmaceutical ED treatments like Viagra and Cialis effective. Those two drugs 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 with human or animal subjects.

One interesting fact about horny goat weed is that there's arguably more significant research suggesting its cardioprotective effects than its benefits to sexual function.

The above-linked medical review published in the Frontiers in Pharmacology journal 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 in humans for us to say so conclusively.

The early research on horny goat weed's dominant chemical compound for cardiovascular support is promising.

Is Horny Goat Weed Contaminated?

Horny goat weed supplements ConsumerLab test results

Horny goat weed is typically sourced in China, which is a country with higher average levels of environmental contamination than the US.

Many horny goat weed supplements on the market may be 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 test results explain our concern over sourcing horny goat weed supplements. 

At the time of updating this article, we cannot identify any horny goat weed supplements that publish third-party testing for purity and potency.

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.

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 clinical 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.

Real People Try Horny Goat Weed

A YouTube channel called "JackandJill" features both a man and a woman trying horny goat weed and sharing their experience:

A YouTube creator named "Rob tha Blak" shared his experience trying horny goat weed:

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 manufacturer that publishes third-party test results.

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 clinical evidence that taking horny goat weed at a certain time of the day, or taking it with or without food, makes any difference in its potential efficacy.

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 typically on the product label.

Our Clean Men's Health Picks

Bulletproof Magnesium is our top overall testosterone support pick.

Magnesium is a mineral that is clinically shown to increase free and total testosterone in athletes and in sedentary individuals.

Momentous Tongkat Ali is our top herbal testosterone support pick.

A 2022 meta-study concluded that "A significant improvement in total testosterone levels after [tongkat ali] treatment was mostly reported in both healthy volunteers and hypogonadal men." 

MBG Omega-3 Potency+ is our top erection quality pick.

Omega-3 fatty acids were described as "critical for men with ED who are under age 60 years" in a 2012 medical review.

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider unhealthy.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Some clinical studies suggest 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.

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

At the time of updating this article, we haven't been able to find a horny goat weed supplement brand that publishes testing to prove the purity and label accuracy of their product.

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.

In this article, we featured unsponsored videos from horny goat weed users that may be useful for consumers evaluating whether or not to try the supplement.