Horny Goat Weed: has there ever been a more intriguing herbal name? You would be forgiven for letting a giggle slip after hearing this for the first time (and the second, and the third…) because it is rather amusing. There will be no judgement here (but you’re all a bit childish…).

What is this herb, where did it come from, and how on earth did it get its name? Horny Goat Weed is a plant used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is known as Yin yan huo. Botanists know the herb as Epimedium, a flowering plant that is thought to stimulate male and female hormones to improve sexual function, libido and arousal.

It gets its name from folklore, which suggests that a Chinese goatherd noticed increased sexual activity among his flock after eating the plant. Today, the herb is most known for being a natural aphrodisiac.

Chemical compounds of phytoestrogens present in Horny Goat Weed are believed to influence hormonal and bone health.


There are many purposes that Horny Goat Weed is used for. Here are a few of them:

  • Low libido (goes without saying: the name is all that’s needed)

  • Erectile Dysfunction

  • Joint pain

  • Heart health

  • High blood pressure

  • Bronchitis

Before taking the herb for anything, it’s always best to check with a Doctor or healthcare practitioner that this can be taken as a complementary treatment alongside any other medications you may be taking. The above health issues are not guaranteed to be improved by taking Horny Goat Weed, but various studies and research has been conducted to suggest that it has potential in assisting with their treatment.

The Potential Benefits in More Detail

Notably, the herb is thought to thin the blood whilst improving circulation.

It’s also thought to reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and sharpen the memory. But more research is still needed in these areas for more substantial evidence.

Due to its icariin content, studies say can help increase testosterone levels. Low energy levels and involuntary ejaculation are thought to be addressed by the icariin content too.

Icariin can increase libido, sexual desire and athletic performance because it has testosterone-mimicking properties. The herb is recommended by doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine as the best sexual tonic for both men and women!

Another benefit of icariin is that it’s a neuro-protectant. This means it prevents inflammation that can lead to cognitive decline.

This component of Horny Goat Weed has been used in medications for primary liver cancer too. More research is needed on icariin’s effectiveness at enhancing liver health, however. There are also many more potential health benefits of Horny Goat Weed that need more research, such as having anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties.

As Horny Goat Weed stimulates circulation, it may assist with improving skin health. Increased blood flow improves the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. This, in turn, can create a natural skin glow and a look of health.

Only if taken in limited doses, the herb can potentially help calm nerves, soothe anxiety and assist with insomnia. But if too much is taken, it could act as a stimulant and have the opposite effect, messing with your sleep. Again, there is little research on this.

There is also potential for Horny Goat Weed strengthening and boosting the health of hair. Sometimes, hormones play a role in the main cause of hair loss, and this is especially true for men. The condition our scalp and hormones are in impacts the health and vitality of our hair, and hair issues can occur because of an imbalance in testosterone levels. Therefore, Horny Goat Weed has the potential to boost hair growth and hair.

Taking Horny Goat Weed Correctly

Horny Goat Weed could be beneficial to some of the health needs you’re wanting to address, but it’s important to never take more than what is recommended, so please read the correct dosage on the product carefully. This is between 250 to 600 milligrams with water, either in capsule or leaf extract form.
You can also prepare Horny Goat Weed tea by steeping the leaves in hot water for about 10 minutes, and then straining the liquid and removing the leaves. Being careful with the correct dosage still applies here.

It’s advised that for every month you take this herb, you should take a week-long break without it.

The potential side effects of going over the recommend dose can be toxic to the kidneys and liver. It should be avoided prior to surgery because it slows blood clotting.

The following should avoid Horny Goat Weed. This is because their condition can worsen with this herb.

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Individuals with low blood pressure or heartbeat irregularities
  • Individuals with bleeding disorders
  • Women with hormone-sensitive conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, or prostate

Please get in touch if you need any further information or advice on taking Horny Goat Weed. Our nutritionists will be able to answer any of your questions.

Written by Jess Burman

Wellbeing Writer

BA (Honours) in Writing