Epimedium Background and Benefits
Epimedium is a genus of flowering plants in the Berberidaceae family, commonly known as the barberry family. It contains over 60 species, of which up to 15 are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Epimedium grandiflorum is one of the most well-known of these species, with common names that include horny goat weed, bishop’s hat and fairy wings.
Epimedium grandiflorum is native to eastern Asia, including China, Japan and Korea. It is an herbaceous perennial with red stems that can grow to one foot in height. The heart-shaped leaves initially have a copper tinge that fades as they mature. Epimedium produces flowers in a range of colors, including purple, pink, yellow and white. The shoots grow from rhizomes, although the specific growth pattern may vary considerably.
The most common uses of Epimedium extract in TCM deal with male sexual function, including low libido and erectile dysfunction. Icariin is one of its most significant components, which is a flavonol glycoside that’s an 8-prenyl derivative of kaempferol 3,7-O-diglucoside. The primary biological effect of icariin is to inhibit the activity of the enzyme cGMP-phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), which primarily affects the cardiovascular system. Epimedium also contains phytoestrogens, which may have effects similar to those of estrogen.
Uses of Epimedium
The most common uses of epimedium in modern herbal medicine are due to icariin, which primarily affects sexual function in men. The phytoestrogens in epimedium also support bone health and menopause.
Post-menopausal women may be able to maintain healthy cholesterol and estradiol levels with epimedium supplementation.
Bone health support
Epimedium may help to support normal bone growth, especially in post-menopausal women. This regimen may require up to two years to obtain the best results.
Male sexual health support
Epimedium extract is typically used by men to support healthy sexual function. It may help to maintain erections and sexual desire as well as manage involuntary ejaculation.
Joint function support
Epimedium may help to manage joint discomfort, especially in the back and knees.
Signs You May Need Epimedium
Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction and low desire are the most significant signs that a man may need Epimedium. Post-menopausal women may also benefit from epimedium, especially if they have low bone mass or an unhealthy level of estradiol. Men and women may benefit from epimedium if they have discomfort from chronic joint conditions. Additional signs that you may need epimedium include fatigue, unhealthy blood pressure and breathing difficulties.
Synonyms and Similar Forms of Epimedium
Epimedium grandiflorum, horny goat weed, bishop’s hat, fairy wings