Other Names of Epimedium: Horny Goat Weed, Rowdy Lamb Herb, Barrenwort, Bishop's Hat, Fairy Wings, Yin Yang Huo

Useful Parts of the Plant: Leaves

It is an herb that belongs to the Berberidaceae family of hardy flowering plants. These plants are perennials and mostly found in China, Europe and southern, eastern and central Asia. The genus of these herbs contains about 60 different types of plants. This herb is popularly used for its aphrodisiacal qualities and is often called the poor man’s Viagra. This plant has four-petalled flowers which usually flowers in spring and summer.

Legend has it that a Chinese goatherd noticed his goat’s frisky behavior after eating this herb. Increased sexual activity of the goat lead to closer examination of the herb and its aphrodisiacal properties were identified. This herb is often used in Chinese remedies.

It is often used as a tea and there aren’t too many documented cases of ill-effects. Ideally you should not exceed the daily dosage of 1200 milligrams in a day. This dose varies based on sex, age, and lifestyle and it is important that this should not be taken randomly.

Nutritional Information and Properties: The primary ingredient in epimedium is icariin. Icariin is known to increase nitric oxide levels in the body which allows increased blood flow to the genitals. In addition to icariin, epimedium also produces a small amount of PDE-5 inhibitor. These inhibitors keep in check the levels of nitric oxide, which in turn keep a check on the levels of arousal in the body.

Epimedium is also known to cause phytoestrogens or plant-based estrogen which is beneficial to women too. 

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

  • One of the major uses of as its most popular name suggests, horny goat week or epimedium is used for its aphrodisiacal qualities.
  • Due to its aphrodisiacal qualities, it is also used in treatments for infertility, impotence and seminal discharges.
  • This herb has also shown traits of being able to simulate the male sex organs, akin to testosterone, and in turn, increase the secretion of semen. Even though there has been no medical study or research to back this up, the herb is very popular in home remedies.
  • This herb has also shown to, in cases, increase levels of epinephrine, serotonin and dopamine along with a reduction in cortisol levels. Therefore, this herb can also be used to reduce stress in individuals.
  • As this herb is able to reduce cortisol levels, it also helps build immunity to diseases and build up the immune system.
  • Decreasing cortisol levels are also linked to increased muscle density and reduced bone deterioration and therefore, an overall improvement in health.
  • Epimedium has also shown that it can restore levels of thyroid and testosterone.
  • The herb is also used as an anti asthmatic, anti rheumatic, anti bacterial, cough suppressant, and vasodilator.
  • The herb can be used as a hypoglycemic tonic as it is known to reduce blood sugar when ingested.
  • This herb is used in treatments for arthritis, lumbago, numbness and weakness of limbs, chronic bronchitis, viral infections of the heart, and hypertension.
  • Its properties are also used to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis, bone loss in menopause and blood disorder called chronic leucopenia. 


Long term use of this herb has also been known to cause vomiting, nosebleeds and dizziness. Large amounts of this herb can also lead to constricted breathing and spasms. This herb can also lower blood pressure to dangerously low levels, causing fainting spells. Like most herbs, this herb is not to be treatment for the condition as there is little scientific research that backs up these claims. There is also a chance that this herb might react with your medication.