Posted: 16 Jul 2014 08:00 AM PDT
Epimedium may not be familiar to most people, yet its other name usually is — Horny Goat Weed. Native to China, traditional Chinese medicine has used epimedium for centuries as a natural aid for both physical and mental vitality.
Epimedium Health Benefits for Women
Researchers all across the world have specifically noted the herb’s potent antioxidant activity. It’s believed to help regulate hormone function, protect the heart, maintain brain health, and balance the immune system. Of particular interest is its anti-aging, energizing, and libido-stimulating properties. Women who use Horny Goat Weed (its most common name) may experience the following health benefits.
1. Promotes Graceful Aging
Men and women alike have been searching for the fountain of youth for centuries, trying to find that magic pill or concoction that will bring them closer to sustained longevity. Unfortunately, a conclusive elixir that fights every aspect of aging has yet to be discovered. Many drugs and cosmetics promise miraculous results, hooking their customer base by targeting their irrational fear of the natural aging process.
Researchers have observed significant benefits of epimedium on women, with one study observing its ability to reset age-related metabolites such as carnosine, nucleotides, and amino acids to younger levels.  Powerful antioxidant properties drive this activity, protecting the body against aging free radical damage.
2. Stimulates Libido
You didn’t think the term “horny goat weed” came by accident, did you? For women, epimedium may provide an excellent alternative for stimulating libido and decreasing sexual dysfunction. Although the herb has been mainly popularized for the male crowd, ladies should take heed that epimedium also provides potent sexual-boosting properties in the female department.
Epimedium appears to encourage blood flow, a key component to sexual desire, and also provides alkaloids and plant sterols that have similar actions as testosterone. Although testosterone is often considered a male hormone, both men and women produce this important steroid hormone as it plays an important role in human sexuality. 
3. Balances Hormones
Epimedium naturally balances hormone function without being an actual hormone itself. This could be helpful for women experiencing hormonal fluctuations during PMS or menopause. The herb may also reduce the incidence of dangerous side effects associated with many hormone therapies. 
4. Relief from Menopause Symptoms
Studies have shown that epimedium may encourage balanced estrogen and estradiol levels in women, hopefully providing a beneficial effect for those with menopause. In one study, researchers compared epimedium extract against a common menopausal treatment. They found that the natural plant chemicals in epimedium, like icariin, demonstrated dynamic effects of bioactivity longer than a conventional menopause drug.  Epimedium is known as an adaptogen, possibly explaining how its effects can help women adapt to certain changes occurring in the body and environment.
5. Supports Skeletal Health
Research to date shows icariin, among other active phytochemicals in epimedium, may prevent bone loss in postmenopausal women. One study found a significant difference in bone health between a group of women taking an epimedium supplement than the group taking placebo. 
6. Soothes Sore Joints
Traditional Chinese medicine often employs epimedium as a natural therapy for joint discomfort — a condition that can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and be a huge, constant energy drain. Mainstream research has been a little slow in reviewing the traditional use of the herb, but so far animal models support the traditional application against the condition. 
Supplementing With Epimedium
Chinese medicine suggests regular use of epimedium significantly enhances overall health. While few side effects have been reported, consuming more than directed should be avoided as it can result in nausea, dizziness, and increased thirst. Seek out a high-quality, organic source of epimedium. If you have trouble finding the herb, remember to look under its most popular name: horny goat weed. Many supplements will combine epimedium with other herbs to maximize health benefits.
Have you ever tried horny goat weed? Let us know your experiences with the herb in the comments!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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