Epimedium, Rowdy Lamb Herb, Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat, Fairy Wings, Horny Goat Weed
Epimedium is a plant common to the grazing and farming regions in China. Eons ago, Chinese farmers noticed their goats became obviously friskier with each other after grazing on this plant. Thus it got its common name of Horny Goat Weed. The phytonutrients in Goat Weed directly benefit the sexual systems in humans as well, and they help with an overall enhanced sense of youth, ambition, confidence and well-being. Plus, there are hard, indirect benefits… That which boosts sexual health boosts longevity. In Edinburgh, Scotland, a recent scientific study of elderly persons who looked exceptionally young for their ages, discovered a wide range of health and dietary practices within the group. There was but one common element. They all had lived and were still practicing vigorous sex lives – not as stressed-out playboys or playgirls, but with their lifelong mates.
Sexual intercourse burns hundreds of calories, exercises the body heart and lymphatics, oxygenates the system, and generates a flood of love emotions and feel-good endorphins. It helps keep the prostate healthy and it healthfully massages many otherwise neglected parts of the anatomy. It offers an enhanced sense of security and a profound comfort and escape from the stresses of the outside world. It offers a sharing and a balancing that every healthy relationship craves. Yet, orgasm need not be the defining factor of each encounter. Regular, vigorous sexual activity can help a person burn-off an extra 200,000 calories per year. Occasional stopping just short of orgasm may actually accommodate more frequent, longer lasting, and higher quality lovemaking experiences – and thus contribute to greater physical benefits.
Nutrition is an enormously significant factor in developing a degree of control over orgasm. Healthy, frequent sexual activity is prerequisite to achieving optimum health and well-being deep into advanced old age. It might well be said that the Scotch have discovered the Fountain of Youth – and it has been right in front of us all this time! (Separately it might he observed, that occupation studies since the 1800s have ranked celibate priests as having the shortest life-spans – by several years – of any profession.) One’s life might not be the only thing to be prematurely shortened in the event of sexual enfeeblement. While some marriages may survive a sub-optimal quality or quantity of sexual activity – it is simply a fact, most marriages do not.
Sexual dysfunctions, or sparsity of lovemaking, list high and loud in troubled or broken marriages – especially in the 80% to 90% of marriages involving breaches of fidelity And, inversely, healthy and frequent sexual relations seem calmly foundational to the happiest, most fidelitous, longest-lasting relationships. Of serious concern then is a functional impotency rate in American men that runs from an astounding 1 in 5 for men of college age, to more than half for all men over age 40. (Smoking cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption, and prescription or street-drug drug use greatly promotes dysfunctions to arrive many years prematurely). Listed of course in the “functional group” are many who only partially function all of the time along with those who entirely dysfunction only part of the time.
Those who are genuinely optimally functioning all of the time represent only a small minority The functional impotency rate amongst college age men has increased a shocking 400% over what it was in the 1950’s. Women have experienced similar increasing percentages of dysfunction and dissatisfaction. And a majority of women surveyed, report being dissatisfied with their sex lives. Sparkling health is essential for sparkling sex. And we know that sparkling health is not available to those who are malnourished. Researchers are proving that certain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients boost sexual health. Epimedium certainly contains some of the more sexually dynamic phytonutrients.
Epimedium is a genus of twenty-one related plant species. The Chinese refer to epimedium as “yin yang huo”, which has been loosely translated by some as “licentious goat plant” and explains why Western supplement companies have adopted the titillating name by which it is known in the U.S: (horny goat weed). Epimedium is grown as an ornamental herb in Asia and the Mediterranean region, and various species are used for medicinal purposes, including Epimedium sagittatum, Epimedium brevicornum, Epimedium wushanense, Epimedium koreanum, and Epimedium pubescens. Because of the traditional use of epimedium for treating fatigue and boosting sex drive, the majority of the claims for Western dietary supplements center around sex drive:
- Boosts libido (sex drive)
- Increases energy levels
- Enhances recovery from exercise (via cortisol-control)
- Makes you more sexy (not really, but this is what the ads would suggest)
The use of epimedium as a medicinal herb dates back to at least 400 A.D., where it has been used as a tonic for the reproductive system (boosting libido and treating impotence) and as a rejuvenating tonic (to relieve fatigue). Epimedium is thought to work via modulation of cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone). Under conditions of high stress, the increased cortisol levels are known to cause fatigue and depress sex drive – so bringing cortisol levels back into normal ranges is also thought to help restore normal metabolism, energy levels and libido. Animal studies have shown that epimedium may function a bit like an adaptogen (such as cordyceps, rhodiola, ashwagandha, and ginseng) by increasing levels of epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine when they are low (an energy-promoting effect), but reducing cortisol levels when they are elevated (an anti-stress effect).
There is also evidence that epimedium can restore low levels of both testosterone and thyroid hormone (bringing low levels back to their normal levels) – which may account for some of the benefits of epimedium in improving libido (sex drive). Animal studies using epimedium have shown a reduction in bone breakdown, an increase in muscle mass, and a loss of body fat-each of which may be linked to the observed return of abnormal cortisol levels back to normal values (and rhythm). In a series of studies conducted in humans and animals by Chinese researchers, immune-system function was directly suppressed and bone loss was accelerated, by using high-dose synthetic cortisol (glucocorticoid drugs). Subsequent administration of epimedium extract reduced blood levels of cortisol and improved immune immune-system function (in the humans) and slowed bone loss and strengthened bones (in the animals).
It is interesting to note that although at least 15 active compounds have been identified in epimedium extracts, (luteolin, icariin, quercetin, and various epimedins), many supplement companies currently use alcohol extracts standardized only for high levels of icariin. The traditional use of epimedium, however, is as a hot-water decoction (tea), which would result in a very different profile of active constituents when compared to the high-icariin alcohol extracts that are more commonly used in commercial products. Although at least one test test-tube study has shown icariin to protect liver cells from damage with by various toxic compounds, other feeding studies (in rodents) have suggested that high-dose icariin may be associated with kidney and liver toxicity. There have been no reports of adverse side effects associated with the traditional preparation of epimedium (water-extracted) at the suggested dosage (250 to 1,000 mg per day).