What is Epimedium Extract?
Epimedium is a plant that comes from the botanical family ‘Berberidaceae’. This plant is mostly found in China, with some present in other parts Asia and the Mediterranean regions. This evergreen flowering plant has four parted flowers that bloom in the spring, usually with a single stem and approx. 2 inches in size across. The flower itself has four small sepals which are generally greenish in color and which sheds when the flower blooms, inside there are four larger bright colored sepals, in which are the real petals and the stamen, both of which are four in number. Owing to this specific shape, the plant is also known as the bishop’s hat. Epimedium seeds thrive in well drained and moisture retentive soil.
Epimedium plant is also known as barrenwort, fairy wings or the more common ‘horny goat weed’ because of its proven aphrodisiac properties. The Epimedium plant is said to contain certain chemical compounds, otherwise known as flavonoids that has antioxidant properties, in addition to having phytoestrogens which have effects similar to the estrogen. This phytoestrogen, known as epimedium icariin is said to block the activity of a certain enzyme in the body, somewhat similar to the drugs that treat erectile dysfunction. Basically, icariin helps in the efficient transmission of an important cellular signaling molecule, Nitrous Oxide, which in turn increases the free form testosterone hormones. For somebody who wants to take icariin orally, it is important to understand that icariin dosage will depend on the strength of the icariin that is usually represented by the percentage of the actual flavonol present in the epimedium supplement.
Benefits of Epimedium:
- Aphrodisiac: Epimedium has long been considered as an extremely potent aphrodisiac. The compound icariin that is found in epimedium works by relaxing muscles by increasing the nitric oxide levels and increasing the blood flow to the sexual organs, thereby increasing libido and desire. This is definitely one of the main benefit of epimedium.
- Controlling Asthma: A Chinese study has shown that Epimedium can be helpful in alleviating airway inflammation by decreasing the activities of some proteins that are responsible for the production of leukocytes in inflammatory areas in the lung, thereby helping with controlling the effects of asthma.
- Anti-Aging Properties: In a study on the effects of the flavonoids derived from the epimedium plants on laboratory animals, it was found that many age related metabolites such as amino acids, unsaturated and saturated fatty acids etc. showed evidence of being reset at a younger level. It can be said therefore that Epimedium icariin does have some anti-aging properties and can be used towards the same.
- Cancer: Epimedium extract benefits have been studied in detail on the cancer cells and have been proven to be effective in decreasing the ability of invasion of cancer cells as well as the migration of the metastatic cancer cells, thereby indicating that it possesses the properties of an effective anti-cancer drug.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Apart from being an Aphrodisiac, epimedium has been effectively used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In an Italian study, it was reported that icariin has the same effect on the erectile tissue in penis as Viagra. The suggested icariin dosage for ED is 200mg/kg of body weight of a 40% icariin concentration as converted into human dosage. Calculated, it translates into a 900 mg for a 150lb person.
- Memory Enhancer: Studies have shown that the administration of icariin has been able to increase the blood flow to the brain and showed improved learning ability and memory. The effect is mainly attributed to the plant’s antioxidant properties and its effect on the nerve impulses as well as the circulatory system.
- Osteoporosis: Icariin has been proven to promote the growth and development of the osteocyte cells and contributing to bone remodeling, thereby indicating that it can be used as an effective drug in the control and treatment of osteoporosis.
- Body Building and Sports: Icariin has proven to be an extremely powerful and potent supplement for body builders and athletes, mainly due to its testosterone and Nitric Oxide boosting properties, both of which play a crucial role in athletic performance, especially in the area of endurance and body building.
- Women’s Sexual Health: Whereas the effects of Icariin on Men’s sexual health and performance is well known and documented, the administration of icariin can also improve the sexual health and performance of women by a huge margin, mostly owing to the production of Nitrous Oxide that improves the flow of blood to the sexual organs, clitoris and vagina. The strength of the icariin supplement for women, however is recommended to be much lower than men.
- Relieves Menopausal Symptoms in Women: The icariin present in epimedium has been found to have dynamic effects of bioactivity longer than conventional menopausal treatments. Epimedium has also shown to encourage balanced estrogen and estradiol levels in women, providing a beneficial effect for menopausal women.
Epimedium Side Effects
Generally, Epimedium is well tolerated and have no serious side effects. Some people however may experience dry mouth, mild diarrhea, muscle spasms and vomiting, that generally subsides with time. It is however advised that people suffering from heart disease, low blood pressure related ailments, pregnant women, patients with mental illness and thyroid disorders should practice caution before starting any strong nutritional/dietary supplement, including epimedium.
Selection and Dosage of Epimedium
Like most other herbal products, there is a lot of variation in the labeling of nutritional information on commercially available epimedium. The following points should be considered towards selecting the epimedium that is most suitable for you:
- The percentage of icariin should be the one that you plan to consume. If you think that you need a 60% icariin, ensure that the label specifically states so.
- Ensure that the main content in the supplement is icariin and is not diluted with a lot of other supplements, which might be beneficial overall but may decrease the effect desired by administration of icariin.
- Understand that icariin, especially in high doses is expensive to extract and produce and if there are cheap products available claiming to have a high concentration of icariin, chance are those might be fake.
Dosage: For men, depending on the desired outcome, the recommended dosage is 900mg of 40% icariin for a 150lb person, 1200 mg for a 200lb person and so forth. There can however be lesser concentrations used for women and men looking for milder effects. The actual concentration of icariin in the horny goat weed supplement is of utmost importance for considering the dosage.
Where to buy the best Epimedium
There are hundreds of sellers of epimedium these days which warrants extreme caution and discretion while selecting which brand to go for. Of all the brands available, GH-2 by Pure Science Supplements is one of the best, available easily at many online platforms and e commerce sites. GH-2 is pure vegetarian and contains 20% icariins and water extracted horny goat weed extracts. Although GH-2 is slightly more expensive than the other epimedium extracts available, the GMP certified low heat extraction technology assures a far superior and potent product. In addition to icariin extract, the finely balanced supplement also contains 15 other vital compounds such as luteolin, quercetin etc in addition to various epimedins.
Conclusion: In these times when nutritional and dietary supplements have become the order of the day and are increasingly being used effectively, epimedium is one of the most sought after nutritional supplement. Caution should however be exercised towards selection of the correct product out of the many available so as to be able to enjoy the desired benefits and effects.