Can Horny Goat Weed Help Men With Sexual Dysfunction?

horny goat weed supplements in condom
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Horny goat weed: You’ve probably seen it in gas stations and your local drug store. When you were a young man, you probably knew at least one guy who swore by the stuff. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a gas station aphrodisiac and erectile dysfunction supplement that’s been used in Chinese medicine for ages. Like a lot of guys, you might wonder if horny goat weed supplements really can heighten sexual sensation or improve your sexual performance. After all, the name intuitively suggests this drug is out there making goats horny, and now it’s being sold to you, dear human, in every major drug store and pharmacy in the country.

So, what’s the deal with horny goat weed, man?

Horny goat weed is the popular name for the Epimedium plant, which is commonly found in many Asian countries. We asked the experts if this popular sexual supplement for men actually works, and they agreed that horny goat weed supplements likely do have some limited effects on male sexual health.

Keep reading for the honest truth, plus some sexual performance aids that actually work.

horny goat weed supplements Courtesy of Amazon
  

What is horny goat weed?

Simply put, horny goat weed refers to any supplement made from the Epimedium plant, which grows mostly in China. It’s typically processed and sold in pill form as a sexual health supplement or aphrodisiac for men.

Dr. Karyn Eilber, a board-certified urologist and the founder of GLISSANT, a line of natural intimacy products, some of which use horny goat weed, filled Spy in on the apocryphal origins of the plant. She said, according to legend, the plant caught on as a sexual remedy in traditional Chinese medicine after a goat herder noticed an increase in sexual activity in her herd after her goats ate the plant. Like most folk tales, it’s hard to pin down the true origins of this alternative medicine. However, we can say with confidence that horny men have been using horny goat weed for a very long time.

Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the sale of supplements in the United States, there are a lot of horny goat weed supplements for sale that make a lot of big promises. Before you purchase any of these supplements and so-called performance enhancers, remember that any health claims they make have not been evaluated by the FDA.

What do horny goat weed supplements do?

OK, so we’ve got a few thousand years of anecdotal evidence that horny goat weed supplements may improve sexual performance in some way, but what do the science and experts say? Spy spoke to a few industry and medical experts and most agreed there was some accepted efficacy, though not everyone agreed that the limited efficacy warrants using horny goat weed.

But before we render a full verdict, let’s first address how horny goat weed works. Dr. Eilber said an active ingredient in horny goat weed, icariin, has been shown in studies to promote genital blood flow, decrease some performance latency (time between climax and the next arousal) and therefore promoting arousal and “enhanced erectile function similar to Viagra.”

One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2013 tested icariin on rats and found evidence that it “may have beneficial effects on erectile function” through its well-documented ability to stop phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), an enzyme that negatively affects blood flow to the penis.

horny goat weed flowers Licensed from Adobe
  

Does horny goat weed work?

So far, the scientific evidence for horny goat weed supplements seems to be pretty favorable, so what gives? Though some evidence supports horny goat weed as an erection-inducer, according to a 2008 study, it’s known to be far less effective, about 80 times less effective, than widely used PDE5 inhibitors you’ve heard of before, such as Viagra.

Studies of the Epimedium plant have been limited, and there’s never been a double-blind study with thousands of men in a controlled experimental setting to objectively measure horny goat weed outcomes.

Plus, there are other open questions like dosage: How much horny good weed is useful for you as opposed to me or your neighbor? Contrary to what you might assume, namely that more is better, the researchers in the 2013 study found that “interestingly, it was low-dose [icariin] that produced the most consistently beneficial results” for the rats.

And it’s these kinds of issues that have Chris Riley, the CEO of USA Rx, a company working to lower the costs of prescription drugs, skeptical about using horny goat weed.

“Although there have been a few studies on the subject over the years, there is very little science to back up the claims that it can significantly improve sexual performance,” Riley said. “This in combination with the fact that there is no set standard dosage and dangerous side effects like spasms if you take too much would make it kind of a sketchy product in my opinion.”

He suggested any man working through any sexual dysfunction consult a doctor and get something actually approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat it.

Dr. Daniel Atkinson, the GP clinical lead at Treated.com, expressed similar reservations. “As an unlicensed herbal remedy, horny goat weed products won’t go through the rigorous testing processes that prescription medications do before being released on the market. So when people obtain them and take them, they often do so without consulting a physician first.”

And this lack of rigorous testing has real consequences for safety: There could be unknown variables affecting the effectiveness of the treatment, not to mention that, without more rigorous studies, scientists have no idea about potential short and long term secondary effects, ultimately resulting in “a higher risk of side effects that can go unreported.”

Dr. Atkinson ultimately agreed with Riley and encouraged anyone with erectile dysfunction to talk to a doctor before doing anything. He said, “Because remedies like horny goat weed aren’t licensed and their use isn’t regulated, taking them is essentially a much riskier game of chance. My advice would be to never use herbal remedies for ED without consulting your physician first.”

There’s also one more factor to consider: the placebo effect. Because psychological factors can contribute to some types of erectile dysfunction, it’s possible that horny goat weed could have a positive placebo effect in some men.

  

The verdict: Horny goat weed probably has limited but positive effects on sexual performance in men

So there you have it. Because icariin, the active ingredient in horny goat weed, does in fact promote blood flow to the penis, it could promote erections and arousal. But it’s ultimately not approved by the FDA to do so and could be risky if misused and without oversight from a doctor.

But if you’re facing erectile dysfunction — and there’s no shame in acknowledging if you do — there are other products to help you achieve and maintain an erection. There are the most well-known products like Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil, a cousin of sildenafil), both of which are vasodilators and PDE5 inhibitors that increase blood flow to the penis.

And unsurprisingly, those two drugs are exactly the ones Dr. Atkinson recommended for their “high success rate, good safety record and a low risk side effect profile.” In consultation with your doctor, you can also consider other drugs in the same family, such as Levitra (vardenafil) or Stendra (avanafil). They also inhibit PDE5, and the main differences have to do with how quickly they act or last.

Then there are sex toys for men we’ve covered at Spy before, such as penis rings and penis pumps, that work to bring blood into the penis and keep it there.

As in treating premature ejaculation, you’re better off talking to your doctor and opting for proven treatments over horny goat weed supplements. If you’re looking for potential erectile dysfunction treatments, consider the products below.

  

1. Adam & Eve Big Time Jumbo Pack Smooth Rings

BEST PENIS RING

Penis rings might not be useful for the man struggling to achieve any erection, but if you can achieve some erection, the Adam & Eve Big Time Jumbo Pack Smooth Rings will help you maintain it by helping to block the blood from escaping your penis. The pack has three stretchy, rubbery rings, each ring a different size. Try one or try them all and see how much they might be able to help.

Adam & Eve Big Time Jumbo Pack Smooth Rings, three different colored penis rings of different sizes Courtesy of Adam & Eve

  

2. Adam & Eve Beginner’s Power Pump

BEST PENIS PUMP

A penis pump may seem old-fashioned or, if you’re a 90s kid, something Austin Powers pretended did not belong to him. But penis pumps have stuck around because they’re easy and cheap to make and, most importantly, they really work. You basically lube up your penis and stick it into the tube, sealing the tube against your groin and creating an enclosed space with your penis in it. The pump removes air from the tube, creating a vacuum, which draws blood into the penis and helps you achieve an erection.

The Adam & Eve Beginner’s Power Pump is just that: A great starting place for the man dipping his toes into the pump market. And hey, 150,000 sales have to mean something, so before picking up a bottle of horny goat weed, which will set you back $10-15 anyway, give the humble penis pump a try.

Adam & Eve Beginner's Power Pump, penis pump Courtesy of Adam & Eve

  

3. Hims Sildenafil

BEST OVERALL ED DRUG

Sildenafil, most famously sold as Viagra, is the most popular drug to treat erectile dysfunction. According to telemedicine company Hims, which sells generic sildenafil as well as brand-name Viagra, the positive effects last for about three hours and begin to appear after about 30 minutes. Sildenafil is relatively affordable and it works for a lot of men with ED. For something scientifically proven to help you achieve and maintain an erection, go with sildenafil over horny goat weed supplements.

Pack of Hims sildenafil Courtesy of Hims

  

4. Hims Tadalafil

ALSO CONSIDER

Tadalafil, also known as Cialis, came after sildenafil, but it works somewhat differently. Though both can be extremely effective at treating ED, because both are PDE5 inhibitors, tadalafil has a longer half-life, about 17.5 hours, in your body than sildenafil. In short, according to Hims, that means it’ll stay in your body longer, giving you up to about 36 hours to reap the positive benefits. But you will pay for the convenience of the longer half-life as tadalafil, even though it’s generic, costs significantly more than sildenafil.

Pack of Hims tadalafil Courtesy of Hims

  

5. Nutricost Horny Goat Weed Extract

BEST HORNY GOAT WEED

If you want to try horny goat weed supplements for yourself, then we’re not going to try to stop you. If you’re just going to leave here and buy some horny goat weed anyway, you might as well pick up a bottle of Nutricost Horny Goat Weed Extract capsules. After speaking with the experts, we probably wouldn’t use horny goat weed ourselves, but every man’s got to decide for himself what he wants to do when it comes to his penis.

Bottle of Nutricost Horny Goat Weed Extract, 180 capsules, 600 mg per capsule Courtesy of Amazon

  

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