Herb that can help in erectile dysfunction


Horny goat weed can address yang deficiency in the kidneys which affects a man’s ability to maintain erections. Joan Chew reports:


Horny goat weed is one of those rare herbs that does exactly what its name suggests.

The third edition of the Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica mentioned how in northern Sichuan, there lived licentious goats that copulated about a hundred times a day. Guess what they ate?

Made up of as many as 15 species of a leafy plant called epimedium, horny goat weed is now an aphrodisiac sold in medical halls for human consumption.

Mr Low Soon Meng, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner at Ma Kuang Healthcare Group, said only the leaves of the wild-growing weed, known collectively as “yinyanghuo” in Chinese, are used in TCM.

Mr Low said horny goat weed is grown and harvested in Chinese provinces such as Zhejiang, Sichuan, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi.

The medica said good quality herbs contain many yellowish-green leaves, only a few stalks and are free of contaminants.

It is sold at 40 cents for a 15g packet at some medical halls here.


Horny goat weed, with its sweet, acrid taste, is considered warm in nature. It is said to move through the meridians of the kidneys and liver, which are responsible for the health of the male sexual organ.

Meridians are channels in the body through which qi (vital energy) travels.

In TCM, the kidneys govern reproduction and can greatly influence fertility, while the liver stores blood and regulates qi circulation.

When the liver is weakened – which can happen when the body is under stress from anxiety or anger, and qi and blood is blocked – it can lead to erectile dysfunction.

A man who is deficient in yang (the element linked to heat) in his kidneys will have the same sexual function problem.

If his partner suffers from short periods or low menstrual flow – symptoms of coldness in the womb and yang deficiency in the kidneys – their chances of conception are greatly reduced.

Other symptoms of kidney yang deficiency include frequent urination, lethargy, a sore lower back and knees, a fat tongue etched with teeth marks and an aversion to cold, said Mr Low.

Horny goat weed can shore up this type of deficiency, which is a result of a weak constitution or overwork.

Finally, according to TCM, men who masturbate too much tend to deplete the jing (essence of nutrients) in their bodies, and this could also contribute to erectile dysfunction.


Horny goat weed is believed to help prevent impotence and increase one’s libido. Some TCM practitioners prescribe it as an alternative to Viagra for impotent men.

However, Mr Low advised men without erectile dysfunction to consult a TCM practitioner before using the herb to boost sexual function. He said the herb, by boosting the yang in the kidneys, could then upset the balance of yin (the element responsible for cooling organs) and yang in the body.

Mr Low said no more than 15g of horny goat weed should be consumed in a day.


Those who are “heaty” should avoid warm herbs such as the horny goat weed.

Heatiness is evident in a dry mouth, flushed face, red tongue, quick pulse and feelings of vexatiousness, said Mr Low.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should refrain from using this herb because its effects on developing foetuses and babies are not known.

The herb promotes blood circulation by dilating blood vessels, so those who already have low blood pressure should not use it. Using horny goat weed may reduce their blood pressure further and increase their risk of fainting, he said.


A study on rats in the Asian Journal Of Andrology in 2006 reported that a major constituent of horny goat weed, a flavonol glycoside called icariin, has testosterone-like properties.

In the study, male rats, which had their reproductive system damaged by medication, were treated with icariin.

The two authors from the Shantou University Medical College in China found the intervention “improved the condition of reproductive organs and increased the circulating level of testosterone”.

They also found that icariin suppressed the extent of cell death in the penile muscles, concluding that horny goat weed had “therapeutic potential in the management of hypoandrogenism (testosterone deficiency)”.

Mutton with horny goat weed
(Serves one)


15g horny goat weed
200g mutton
80g ginger, chopped
15g green onion, chopped
5g Chinese five spice powder
750ml water
Salt, to taste


1. Rinse the mutton and cut into pieces.

2. Cut the horny goat weed into slices before putting it in a gauze bag and tying up the bag.

3. Place the horny goat weed and the mutton in a claypot filled with 750ml water, then bring to the boil.

4. When the water boils, add ginger, green onion and Chinese five spice powder.

5. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately

6. 30 minutes or until the mutton softens. Then add an appopriate amount of salt before serving.


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