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Horny Goat Weed



This chapter presents indications, clinical evidence, pre-clinical evidence, mechanisms of action, interactions, and contraindications of Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium spp.). Horny Goat Weed is used to treat sexual dysfunction, particularly impotence in men and lack of libido in women. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is also used widely for osteoporosis. Epimedium species are used to treat a number of other conditions including rheumatic arthritis, menopausal symptoms and memory loss. Adverse effects, dosage, and general plant information are included in the chapter. According to a Chinese legend, a goat herder first noticed the qualities of the plant after he observed far more sexual activity in his goats after they ate it; hence the common name.
Horny Goat Weed Epimedium spp.
Mainly: E. brevicornu Maxim.; E. koreanum Nakai; E. pubescens Maxim.; E. sagit-
tatum (Siebold & Zucc.) Maxim. Other species of Epimedium are used medicinally,
including E. acunatum Franch and E. wushanense T.S.Ying (as unofcial substitutes
of Epimedii herba)
Synonyms: Aceranthus macrophyllus Blume ex. K.Koch; A. sagittatus Siebold &
Zucc. (=E. sagittatum)
Family: Berberidaceae
Other common names: Barrenwort; bishop’s hat; epimedium; yin yang huo
Drug name: Epimedii herba
Botanical drug used: Aerial parts
Note: Based on the large number of species accepted in the Pharmacopoeia of
China, in combination with the poor information that is generally available about
the quality of products sold as horny goat weed, there can be no evidence-based
use of a product with an acceptable quality. Therefore, it clearly cannot be
recommended by a health care professional.
Indications/uses: To treat sexual dysfunction, particularly impotence in men
and lack of libido in women. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is also used
widely for osteoporosis. Epimedium species are used to treat a number of
other conditions including rheumatic arthritis, menopausal symptoms and
memory loss.
Evidence: There is limited evidence to support the use of epimedium to treat
sexual dysfunction and osteoporosis, although it is known to contain potent
phytoestrogenic compounds.
Safety: Tests in animal models have shown no serious toxicity issues, but human
clinical safety has not been established. Epimedium should not be used con-
currently with other phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, or when PDE-5
inhibitors are contraindicated (e.g. cardiac arrhythmias), or during pregnancy
and lactation.
Main chemical compounds: The main active constituents are the prenylated
avonoids, icariin and its metabolites, epimedins A, B, C, and the sagittatosides.
Phytopharmacy: An evidence-based guide to herbal medicinal products, First Edition.
Sarah E. Edwards, Inês da Costa Rocha, Elizabeth M. Williamson and Michael Heinrich.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Horny Goat Weed 211
Other active compounds present include avonol glycosides (of kaempferol,
quercetin, myricetin); avones (tricin, luteolin); biavones (gingketin, isogingketin,
bilobetin); lignans such as syringaresinol; alkaloids (e.g. epimediphine from
E. koreanum); β-sitosterol (E. sagittatum,E. brevicornu); and a chalcone, isoliquir-
itigenin (from E. koreanum) (Ma et al. 2011; Pharmaceutical Press Editorial Team
2013; Zhang et al. 2013c).
Clinical evidence:
Sexual dysfunction: Limited clinical data are available on the effects of epimedium
on erectile dysfunction. A small double-blind clinical trial was reported assessing
an epimedium herbal complex supplement in 25 healthy men and 13 men who had
used sildenal (Viagra). The men were administered with the herbal complex for a
minimum of 45 days. Daily use of the epimedium preparation was found to enhance
sexual satisfaction to a greater extent than sildenal (Ma et al. 2011).
Bone health and osteoporosis in menopause: A ve-year follow-up study of a
herbal preparation of epimedium for prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis
and fragility fractures found that it was able to reduce postmenopausal bone loss,
and also showed some potential for reduction in fragility fracture incidence (Deng
et al. 2012). A randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study in 85
postmenopausal women with osteopenia (lower than normal mineral bone density,
considered a precursor to osteoporosis), were treated with icariin 60mg, combined
with the isoavonoids daidzein 15 mg, and genistein 3mg, daily for 24 months. All
patients were also given calcium 300 mg daily. A statistically signicant, though
small, increase in bone density was found in the test group and bone resorption
markers were signicantly decreased, compared to the control group (Zhang et al.
2007). Isoavones are oestrogenic and so also have osteogenic activities.
Other oestrogenic effects: A study evaluating the effects of Epimedii herba water
extract on blood lipid and sex hormone levels in 90 postmenopausal women found
that after 6 months of medication, the extract decreased total cholesterol and triglyc-
eride levels (p<0.01) and signicantly increased serum levels of oestradiol, com-
pared with the pre-treatment level (Yan et al. 2008).
Pre-clinical evidence and mechanisms of action:
Sexual dysfunction: Icariin has erectogenic properties in animals, via phosphodi-
esterase type 5 (PDE-5) inhibition, and also neurotrophic effects in vitro and in vivo
(Shindel et al. 2010). A study in male rats found increased sexual behaviour after
treatment with epimedium in combination with four other medicinal plants. How-
ever, individual assessment of the herbs showed no improvement, indicating a pos-
sible synergistic action between them (Zanoli et al. 2008). A study in isolated rabbit
corpus cavernosum (CC) smooth muscle showed that epimedium extracts could
elicit a relaxation effect through activation of multiple targets on NO/cGMP sig-
nalling pathways. The study also found that they potentiated the effects of PDE-5
inhibitors (commonly used for erectile dysfunction), such as sildenal and varde-
nal. The crude extracts were found to have a greater potency than the puried
compounds (Chiu et al. 2006).
Bone health and osteoporosis: Icariin is involved in the regulation of multiple
signalling pathways in osteogenesis, anti-osteoclastogenesis, chondrogenesis, angio-
genesis and inammation. It has been reported to have the potential to be used as
212 Phytopharmacy
a substitute for osteoinductive protein-bone morphogenetic proteins, or to enhance
their therapeutic effects, for bone tissue engineering as well as treatment of osteo-
porosis (Zhang et al. 2013b).
Other relevant effects: Icariin has phytoestrogenic properties and has been shown
to promote the biosynthesis of oestrogen by aromatase (Yang et al. 2013). It reduced
the levels of serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and
reduced platelet adhesiveness and aggregation in atherosclerotic rabbits, demon-
strating lipid-lowering effects (Zhang et al. 2013a). The alkaloid epimediphine has
anticholinesterase activity (Zhang et al. 2013c), which together with the oestrogenic
effects of other constituents, may support the use for memory enhancement.
Interactions: There is conicting evidence about a possible interaction with other
PDE-5 inhibitors such as sildenal (Viagra). In vitro evidence has suggested that
epimedium potentiates PDE-5 inhibitors (Chiu et al. 2006), but a study of the effects
of E. sagittatum extract on the pharmacokinetics of sildenal demonstrated that the
area under the concentration–time curve of sildenal was signicantly decreased
in groups that received a high dose of epimedium extract, suggesting antagonistic
effects (Hsueh et al. 2013). Co-administration with PDE-5 inhibitors should, there-
fore, be avoided until further information is available.
Another in vitro study found that epimedium is a potent inhibitor of cytochrome
P450 isoforms (including CYP1A2, CYP2C19, CYP2E1, CYP2C9, CYP3A4,
CYP2D6) and NADPH-CYP reductase, indicating a possible potential for inter-
action with other drugs, although the clinical signicance is not known (Liu et al.
Contraindications: Epimedium should not be used during pregnancy and lacta-
tion as it has oestrogenic activity. Paediatric use is not appropriate. People with heart
conditions should avoid using epimedium and long-term use is not recommended
(Pharmaceutical Press Editorial Team 2013).
Adverse effects: In high doses (not specied), epimedium may have a stimulatory
effect and cause sweating or a feeling of heat. Prolonged use of excessive amounts
in animal studies was associated with decreased thyroid activity (Ma et al. 2011).
A case was reported of a 66-year-old man who developed heart arrhythmia
and hypomania after taking a herbal sexual enhancement product containing
epimedium. As it was a multi-ingredient preparation, and the man was predisposed
to heart disease and possible mood disorder, it is unclear if this was caused by
epimedium or another ingredient (Partin and Pushkin 2004).
Dosage: For products, see manufacturers’ instructions. For the herb, the adult dose
is 3–9 g dried aerial parts daily (Pharmaceutical Press Editorial Team 2013).
General plant information: According to a Chinese legend, a goat herder rst
noticed the qualities of the plant after he observed far more sexual activity in his
goats after they ate it; hence the common name (Ma et al. 2011).
Chiu J-H, Chen K-K, Chien T-M, Chiou W-F, Chen C-C, Wang J-Y, Lui W-Y, Wu C-W.
(2006) Epimedium brevicornum Maxim extract relaxes rabbit corpus cavernosum through
multitargets on nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate signaling pathway. Interna-
tional Journal of Impotence Research 18(4): 335– 342.
Horny Goat Weed 213
Deng WM, Zhang P, Huang H, Shen YG, Yang QH, Cui WL, He YS, Wei S, Ye Z, Liu F,
Qin L. (2012) Five-year follow-up study of a kidney-tonifying herbal Fufang for preven-
tion of postmenopausal osteoporosis and fragility fractures. Journal of Bone and Mineral
Metabolism 30(5): 517– 524.
Hsueh TY, Wu YT, Lin LC, Chiu AW, Lin CH, Tsai TH. (2013) Herb-drug interaction of
Epimedium sagittatum (Sieb. et Zucc.) maxim extract on the pharmacokinetics of sildenal
in rats. Molecules 18(6): 7323– 7335.
Liu KH, Kim MJ, Jeon BH, Shon JH, Cha IJ, Cho KH, Lee SS, Shin JG. (2006) Inhibition
of human cytochrome P450 isoforms and NADPH-CYP reductase in vitro by 15 herbal
medicines, including Epimedii herba. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
31(1): 83– 91.
Ma H, He X, Yang Y, Li M, Hao D, Jia Z. (2011) The genus Epimedium: An ethnopharma-
cological and phytochemical review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 134(3): 519–541.
Pharmaceutical Press Editorial Team. (2013) Herbal Medicines.4
th Edition. Pharmaceutical
Press, London, UK.
Partin JF, Pushkin YR. (2004) Tachyarrhythmia and hypomania with horny goat weed. Psy-
chosomatics 45(6): 536– 537.
Shindel AW, Xin ZC, Lin G, Fandel TM, Huang YC, Banie L, Breyer BN, Garcia MM, Lin
CS, Lue TF. (2010) Erectogenic and neurotrophic effects of icariin, a puried extract of
horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.)in vitro and in vivo.Journal of Sexual Medicine 4(Pt 1):
1518– 1528.
Yan FF, Liu Y, Liu YF, Zhao YX. (2008) Herba Epimedii water extract elevates estrogen level
and improves lipid metabolism in postmenopausal women. Phytotherapy Research 22(9):
1224– 1228.
Yang L, Lu D, Guo J, Meng X, Zhang G, Wang F. (2013) Icariin from Epimedium brevi-
cornum Maxim promotes the biosynthesis of estrogen by aromatase (CYP19). Journal of
Ethnopharmacology 145(3): 715– 721.
Zanoli P, Benellia A, Zavatti M, et al. (2008) Improved sexual behaviour in male rats treated
with a Chinese herbal extract: hormonal and neuronal implications. Asian Journal of
Andrology 10(6): 937–945.
Zhang G, Qin L, Shi Y. (2007) Epimedium-derived phytoestrogen avonoids exert benecial
effect on preventing bone loss in late postmenopausal women: a 24-month randomized,
double-blind and placebo-controlled trial Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism 22(7):
1072– 1079.
Zhang WP, Bai XJ, Zheng XP, Xie XL, Yuan ZY. (2013a) Icariin attenuates the enhanced
prothrombotic state in atherosclerotic rabbits independently of its lipid-lowering effects.
Planta Medica 79(9): 731– 736.
Zhang X, Liu T, Huang Y, Wismeijer D and Liu Y. (2013b) Icariin: does it have an osteo
inductive potential for bone tissue engineering? Phytotherapy Research 28(4): 498 –509.
Zhang X, Oh M, Kim S, Kim J, Kim H, Kim S, Houghton PJ, Whang W. (2013c)
Epimediphine, a novel alkaloid from Epimedium koreanum, inhibits acetylcholinesterase.
Natural Product Research 27(12): 1067– 1074.
... Bibliografía: [238,247,293,294,[299][300][301][302][303][304] Tópicos en nutrición y suplementación deportiva -Dr. Heber E. Andrada pág. ...
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This book is intended for anyone passionate about nutrition and sports supplementation. It aims to introduce readers to what regards the subject, combining areas such as nutrition, biological chemistry, the physiology of the exercise, food science and pharmacology. It is by no means intended to replace a good book on each of these areas, just try to give a general snapshot of each of the substances that are currently being used in the world of supplementation sports, its functions, applications, benefits and doses that are usually used. Heber E. Andrada October 5, 2020
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Epimedium sagittatum (Sieb. et Zucc.) Maxim is one of the herbs used to treat erectile dysfunction in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor used to treat erectile dysfunction in Western Medicine. This study evaluates the herbal-drug interaction of Epimedium sagittatum extract on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil in rats by ultra-performance liquid chromatography. The rat plasma was sampled from each anesthetized rat after pretreatment with 3-days Epimedium sagittatum extract (1/2 g/kg/day) and intravenous injection with sildenafil (10/30 mg/kg). The pharmacokinetic data demonstrate that the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) of sildenafil (10 mg/kg) was significantly decreased in groups that received a high dose of Epimedium sagittatum extract. In conclusion, the study demonstrates that there was significant herb-drug interaction of Epimedium sagittatum extract on the pharmacokinetics of sildenafil at low and high daily doses, suggesting co-administration use of Epimedium sagittatum extract and sildenafil in clinical practice should be prevented due to possible herb-drug interactions.
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Aim: To investigate the influence of an extract obtained from five Chinese medicinal plants on sexual behavior of adult male rats. Methods: The extract was administered at doses of 30, 60 and 120 mg/kg by oral gavage, acutely (one time, 45 min before mating test) or subchronically (daily for 10 days) in sexually potent and sexually sluggish/impotent rats. Sexual behavior, serum levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone (T) were evaluated in treated rats and compared with controls receiving vehicle. The effect of the extract on central dopaminergic neurotransmission was assessed in the nucleus accumbens using a microdialysis technique. Results: In sexually potent rats, both acute and subchronic treatment with the extract dosed at 30 and 60 mg/kg reduced mount latency and intromission latency. In sluggish/impotent rats, the acutely administered extract at the dose of 60 mg/kg shortened ejaculation latency, whereas subchronically administered at the doses of 30 and 60 mg/kg, reduced mount, intromission and ejaculation latencies, increasing also the percentage of mounting and ejaculating rats. The extract dosed at 60 mg/kg significantly increased LH and T following acute and subchronic administration and increased 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels in the nucleus accumbens, 30 min after the acute administration. Conclusion: The improvement in both appetitive and consummatory components of sexual behavior observed in male rats treated with the extract could be ascribed to increased serum T level in parallel with the activation of the central dopaminergic system.
Traditional Chinese medicines have been recommended for bone regeneration and repair for thousands of years. Currently, the Herba Epimedii and its multi-component formulation are the attractive native herbs for the treatment of osteoporosis. Icariin, a typical flavonol glycoside, is considered to be the main active ingredient of the Herba Epimedii from which icariin has been successfully extracted. Most interestingly, it has been reported that icariin can be delivered locally by biomaterials and that it has an osteoinductive potential for bone tissue engineering. This review focuses on the performance of icariin in bone tissue engineering and on blending the information from icariin with the current knowledge relevant to molecular mechanisms and signal pathways. The osteoinductive potential of icariin could be attributed to its multiple functions in the musculoskeletal system which is involved in the regulation of multiple signaling pathways in anti-osteoporosis, osteogenesis, anti-osteoclastogenesis, chondrogenesis, angiogenesis, and anti-inflammation. The osteoinductive potential and the low price of icariin make it a very attractive candidate as a substitute of osteoinductive protein-bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), or as a promoter for enhancing the therapeutic effects of BMPs. However, the effectiveness of the local delivery of icariin needs to be investigated further. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Icariin is a major active component isolated from the traditional Chinese herb Epimedium brevicornum, with a wide range of pharmacological and biological activities. In this paper, we investigated the effects of icariin on hyperlipidemia, and further evaluated whether icariin could improve unfavorable hemorheological parameters, attenuate platelet activation and facilitate the balance between plasmic plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and tissue-type plasminogen activator activities in rabbits fed a high-cholesterol diet. Icariin reduced the levels of serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, as well as the atherosclerotic burden. In addition, this compound has been found to improve the imbalance between plasmic plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and tissue-type plasminogen activator activities, reduce platelet adhesiveness and aggregation and modulate unfavorable hemorheological variables in hypercholesterolemia. In conclusion, icariin has lipid-lowering effects and may be used in the treatment and prevention of thrombosis in the atherosclerotic process.
Ethnopharmacological relevance: Epimedium brevicornum Maxim has long been used for the treatment of osteoporosis in China and other Asian countries. However, the mechanism behind the antiosteoporotic activity of this medicinal plant is not fully understood. Aim of the study: The present study was designed to investigate the effects of five widely used antiosteoporotic medicinal plants (Epimedium brevicornum, Cuscuta chinensis, Rhizoma drynariae, Polygonum multiflorum, and Ligustrum lucidum) on the production of estrogen, and identify the bioactive compounds responsible for the estrogen biosynthesis-promoting effect. Materials and methods: Human ovarian granulosa-like KGN cells were used to evaluate estrogen biosynthesis, and the production of 17β-estradiol was quantified by a magnetic particle-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit. Further, the mRNA expression of aromatase was determined by a quantitative real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), and the protein expression of aromatase was detected by western blotting. The activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in rat osteoblastic UMR-106 cells was measured using p-nitrophenyl sodium phosphate assay. Results: Among the 5 antiosteoporotic medicinal plants, the extract of Epimedium brevicornum was found to significantly promote estrogen biosynthesis in KGN cells. Icariin, the major compound in Epimedium brevicornum, was identified to be the active compound for the estrogen biosynthesis-promoting effect. Icariin promoted estrogen biosynthesis in KGN cells in a concentration- and time-dependant manner and enhanced the mRNA and protein expressions of aromatase, which is the only enzyme for the conversion of androgens to estrogens in vertebrates. Further study showed that icariin also promoted estrogen biosynthesis and ALP activity in osteoblastic UMR-106 cells. Conclusions: These results show that the promotion of estrogen biosynthesis is a novel effect of Epimedium brevicornum, and icariin could be utilized for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
A novel aporphine alkaloid was isolated from the leaves of Epimedium koreanum Nakai during activity-guided fractionation in search of compounds with an anticholinesterase activity. The structure of the new compound was assigned as 1,10-methoxy-7-hydroxy-aporphine (1), which we have named epimediphine. Unambiguous (1)H-NMR and (13)C-NMR data for epimediphine are described. Epimediphine inhibited an acetylcholinesterase (AchE) activity in a dose-dependent manner with an IC(50) value of 3.1 µM. Meanwhile, tacrine, dehydroevodiamine and physostigmine, which are therapeutic drugs or candidates for AD, exhibited an anti-AchE activity with IC(50) values of 0.4, 37.9 and 0.12 µM, respectively.
To observe the kidney-tonifying herbal Fufangs with phytoestrogenic epimedium for prevention of postmenopausal osteoporosis with both bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture as study endpoints, a 5-year multicenter follow-up study in 194 postmenopausal women (47-70 years old) was conducted in which the subjects were given oral administration of herbal Fufang (10 g/day, twice per day, n = 101) or placebo (n = 93). Both groups were supplemented daily with calcium (600 mg) and vitamin D (400 IU). BMD at distal radius, potential adverse events, and fracture incidence were evaluated at baseline and at 6, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months. At the end of 5 years, 155 subjects had completed the study, with better adherence in the treatment group (13% dropouts, n = 88 at year 5) as compared with the control group (28% dropouts, n = 67 at year 5) (P < 0.05). No notable adverse events were observed in either group. In the treatment group BMD increased significantly from baseline (0.211 ± 0.022 g/cm(2)) to the end of the study (0.284 ± 0.015 g/cm(2)), whereas the control group decreased significantly from baseline (0.212 ± 0.023 g/cm(2)) to 5 years later (0.187 ± 0.022 g/cm(2)) (P < 0.05). The fracture incidence was 2.4 fold lower in the treatment group than in the control group, with a relative risk of 0.57 for the treatment group (95% CI, 0.43-0.70, P < 0.05). In conclusion, in addition to the beneficial effects of oral herbal Fufang on prevention of postmenopausal bone loss, this 5-year multi-center clinical study demonstrated for the first time its potential for reduction in fragility fracture incidence.
Epimedium (Berberidaceae), is a genus of about 52 species in the family Berberidaceae, which also known as Rowdy Lamb Herb, Xianlinpi, Barrenwort, Bishop's Hat, Fairy Wings, Horny Goat Weed, and Yangheye or Yin Yang Huo (Chinese: ). Many plants have been proven to possess efficacy on sexual dysfunction and osteoporosis in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The paper reviews the ethnopharmacology, the biological activities and the correlated chemical compounds of Epimedium species. More than 260 compounds have been isolated; among them prenyl-flavonoids are the major constituents and also important chemotaxonomic markers. Modern pharmacology studies and clinical practice demonstrated that Epimedium and its active compounds possess wide pharmacological actions, especially in strengthening yang, hormone regulation, anti-osteoporosis, immunological function modulation, anti-oxidation and anti-tumor, anti-aging, anti-atherosclerosis and anti-depressant activities. Currently, effective monomeric compounds or active parts have been screened for pharmacological activity from Epimedium in vivo and in vitro.
Epimedium species (aka horny goat weed) have been utilized for the treatment of erectile dysfunction in Traditional Chinese Medicine for many years. Icariin (ICA) is the active moiety of Epimedium species. To evaluate the penile hemodynamic and tissue effects of ICA in cavernous nerve injured rats. We also studied the in vitro effects of ICA on cultured pelvic ganglia. Rats were subjected to cavernous nerve injury and subsequently treated for 4 weeks with daily gavage feedings of a placebo solution of normal saline and Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) vs. ICA dissolved in DMSO at doses of 1, 5, and 10 mg/kg. A separate group underwent a single dose of ICA 10 mg/kg 2 hours prior to functional testing. Functional testing with cavernous nerve stimulation and real-time assessment of intracavernous pressure (ICP) was performed at 4 weeks. After functional testing, penile tissue was procured for immunohistochemistry and molecular studies. In separate experiments, pelvic ganglia were excised from healthy rats and cultured in the presence of ICA, sildenafil, or placebo culture media. Ratio of ICP and area under the curve (AUC) to mean arterial pressure (MAP) during cavernous nerve stimulation of subject rodents. We also assayed tissue expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), eNOS: endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), calponin, and apoptosis via immunohistochemistry and Western blot. Serum testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) were assayed using enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA). Differential length of neurite outgrowth was assessed in cultured pelvic ganglia. Rats treated with low-dose ICA demonstrated significantly higher ICP/MAP and AUC/MAP ratios compared with control and single-dose ICA animals. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot were revealing of significantly greater positivity for nNOS and calponin in penile tissues of all rats treated with ICA. ICA led to significantly greater neurite length in cultured specimens of pelvic ganglia. ICA may have neurotrophic effects in addition to known phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibiting effects.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can ameliorate lipid metabolism after menopause, but it is not suitable for long-term use because of serious side effects. Herba Epimedii is a widely used herbal medicine in many Asian countries, it potentially treats menopausal syndrome and its complications with few side effects and good curative effects. The study aimed to evaluate the effects of Herba Epimedii water extract on blood lipid and sex hormone levels. Ninety subjects were randomly divided into two groups: a trial group which received Herba Epimedii water extract and a control group which was administered an equal amount of water placebo. At the baseline and after 6 months of medication, serum estradiol (E(2)), progesterone (P), testosterone (T), total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations were measured. The results indicated that Herba Epimedii water extract decreased the TC and TG levels (p < 0.01). Furthermore, Herba Epimedii water extract significantly increased the serum level of E(2) (p < 0.01) compared with the pre-treatment level. In conclusion, Herba Epimedii water extract produces its beneficial actions in postmenopausal women.