Can Icariin (horny goat weed) help treating erectile dysfunction-

Erectile dysfunction, or ED for short is without doubt one of the most debilitating and humiliating disorders that men can experience. The anticipation and fear of being unable to perform in bed can absolutely cripple a man’s confidence to pursue meaningful and intimate relationships, weighing heavily on their self-esteem and morale.

More than 100 million men worldwide and one million men of all ages in Australia are estimated to be affected with some form of ED. While sexual dysfunction can affect guys at any age its prevalence increases quite dramatically as men get older.

There can be any number of causes of ED. Some of physiological while others psychological. Common causes of ED include diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Psychological factors can be stress, worry, depression and anxiety.

While there are a range of standard treatments available for ED such as prescription medication, hormone therapy, injections and surgery, there are some effective natural remedies that can be used to improve erectile function. One of these is icariin, otherwise commonly known as Horny Goat Weed.

What is Icariin

Icariin is a prenylated glycoside flavonoid and key active flavonol found in the Epimedium plant family. We take icariin orally as a supplement we know commonly as Horny Goat Weed given its proven aphrodisiac properties. As such, icariin works as an effective natural therapy to support and repair male sexual health and erectile function.

Icariin flavonols like most common flavonoids found in fruit and vegetables have a number of positive health effects due to their ability to act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents and anticancer factors.

How icariin can help treat ED 

Icariin works as a natural therapy for ED through several mechanisms that occur within the human body. First, icariin has a powerful influence on nitric oxide levels. Icariin increases nitric oxide which dilates arteries and improves the blood flow to all parts of the body including the penis.

One study that showed icariin at work on nitric oxide was in 2005 when researchers tested it on castrated rats. The results showed an increase in nitric oxide expression after four weeks treatment with oral icariin.  Similarly this study in 2010 showed significantly greater positivity for nitric oxide in the penile tissues of rats treated with low dose icariin.

Having healthy levels of nitric oxide is absolutely crucial for men in order to get a strong and firm erection of the penis. This is because in the absence of healthy levels of nitric oxide, the narrow blood vessels won’t sufficiently relax and widen to allow enough blood flow to be delivered to the penis. Icariin works to strengthen erections due its action on the nitric oxide pathway and increased circulation and blood flow to the genital region and penis.

The other action by which icariin helps to treat ED is by inhibition of the enzyme Phosphodiesterase-5 – or PDE5. PDE5 reduces cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) which is needed to relax smooth muscle. Inhibiting PDE5 as icariin has been shown to do allows cGMP to remain active for longer in smooth muscle. The cGMP is then free to work its magic to relax smooth muscle which in turn improves erections.

Again scientific research has shown how this activity occurs, such as this in-vitro study from 2006 which showed icariin to inhibit all three PDE5 isoforms isolated for the test while it enhanced cGMP levels in smooth muscle cells.

 

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Other Benefits of Icariin (Horny goat weed)

There are many benefits of icariin which show its potential to support healthy sexual function more broadly. For example, this 2006 study on male rats was able to demonstrate the positive effects of icariin on reproductive organs and reproduction endocrine function. In this study, the researchers found icariin worked as a testosterone mimetic without significant change in the luteinizing hormone or follicle stimulating hormone levels. As a result of their findings the researchers concluded that icariin shows therapeutic potential to manage androgen deficiency syndrome, a disorder commonly encountered in older male populations.

Another area where icariin demonstrates its therapeutic capacity is on bone and joint health. Icariin has emerged as an effective treatment for osteoporosis in recent years. A 2017 study demonstrated that icariin had a beneficial effect on rats with osteoporosis, showing its capacity to effectively prevent and treat the disease. This study from 2016 showed icariin improved bone mass and could be effective in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. While other studies have shown icariin to demonstrate osteo-protective effects by way of its action to enhance osteoblasts and inhibit osteoclasts among other therapeutic activities.

Icariin is also shown to offer mental health benefits for users. For example the results from a study in 2015 confirmed that icariin exerts antidepressant-like effects. The researchers surmised that the results were at least partly mediated by the role that icariin has in enhancing antioxidant status and anti-inflammatory effects on brain tissue. While another study found there was a decrease in depressive symptoms and reduced alcohol consumption among 10 participants with bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence taking 300 mg of icariin daily for eight weeks.

Icariin flavonols are also recognized to improve cognitive function and benefit people who suffer from impaired memory and Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore icariin can help reduce anxiety and stress by improving abnormalities in the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal axis. As icariin has anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties, it can also inhibit formation of tumors in different types of cancer and reduce irritable bowel syndrome and asthma.

 Summary

Icariin is a fantastic supplement for men especially for its positive effects on male sexual enhancement. However it can be just as well taken for its capacity to prevent and treat other disease as well, or as a general health tonic.

For the athletic type, icariin can help increase lean muscle mass, improve levels of stamina and endurance, break though performance plateaus and produce more intense muscle pumps while lifting weights due to its ability to boost nitric oxide levels.

Recommended effective doses are typically between 10mg/kg to 200mg/kg of icariin each day. So for a person weighing 70 kgs  the dose equates to about 100mg to 900mg a day; while for a person weighing 90 kgs between 150mg to 1200mg a day and for a person weighing 115 kgs between 180mg to 1500mg a day.

While most Horny Goat Weed supplements come as 10% to 20% icariin, the most powerful form on the market is a standardized pure 60% icariin supplement. The only problem here is you’ll pay much more for the higher concentrated icariin supplement, so it might be worth trialing the lower-cost formulas to see if you still get the satisfactory results you look for.

Icariin-based supplements can no doubt improve your sexual health and erectile function. And much more, using icariin as directed shows that it will benefit your general health, wellbeing and overall quality of life.

If you want to lean more about horny goat weed check out my post (Does horny goat weed work?).