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Flavonoid in Horny Goat Weed boosts testosterone

Nearly all supplement manufacturers have a product in their range that contains extracts of the Epimedium plant, aka Horny Goat Weed. Horny Goat Weed stands for better workouts, higher testosterone levels and above all better sex, if the ads are to be believed. According to researchers at the Shantou University Medical College in China, Epimedium might actually work.


Some plants in the Epimedium genus contain the compound in the diagram here to the right: the flavonol icariin. According to studies, it’s icariin that causes the Viagra-effect that Epimedium is known for: icariin inhibits the PDE-5 enzyme and as a result the nitrogen monoxide [NO] concentration in the blood rises.

The researchers at Shantou University were interested in a different aspect of icariin, however. They gave male rats an oral preparation made by the Chinese Huacui Biotechnology for a week that contained 40 percent pure icariin. The daily dose was 200 mg per kg bodyweight. [ICA] Before the treatment started, the rats were injected with a substance that inhibited the enzymes responsible for testosterone synthesis in the testes.

According to the researchers this made the rats resemble older men with a too low testosterone level.

In the tables below C stands for rats that were not treated at all. M stands for the rats that were given the enzyme inhibitor but no icariin. And T stands for the rats that were first given an enzyme inhibitor and then daily injections containing 5 mg testosterone/kg bodyweight for a week.

In the rats that had been given icariin, their testosterone level rose by a factor of three compared with the C group.

The researchers also noticed that the concentration of osteocalin in the blood rose. This suggests that the animals started to make more bone mass.

"Icariin shows testosterone mimetic properties, and has therapeutic potential in the management of hypoandrogenism, which is encountered in most of the aging male population", the researchers conclude optimistically.

Asian J Androl. 2006 Sep; 8(5): 601-5.

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