Is Yin Yang Huo effective for erectile dysfunction?

Yin Yang Huo is an herb with the botanical name Epimedium sagittatum. It has a soft, green, colorful, heart-shaped leaf and is found in the wild in Asia (China and Japan) and Europe. Ying Yang Huo literally translates as Horny Goat Weed. Other names for this plant include barrenwort, rowdy lamb herb and Bishop’s hat.


Ying Yang Huo has been in use in traditional Chinese medicine for about 2,000 years. It got this name when a Chinese goat herder noticed that his goats became more sexually active after feeding on the Ying Yang Huo plants that were growing near the fields.

How Ying Yang Huo works

The main aphrodisiac components in Epimedium sagittatum are icariin and noricariin. These substances are 5-phosphodiesterase inhibitors. When these agents inhibit 5-phosphodiesterase, they cause vasodilation of the blood vessels (vascular lumens become wider), which increases penile blood flow and produces an erection.

Effectiveness of Ying Yang Huo for treating erectile dysfunction

In ancient Chinese books, the main functions of Ying Yang Huo focused on its ability to warm up the kidney and the reinforcement of ‘yang’, which lead to the recovery of male erectile function. As a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction, Ying Yang Huo has a history that goes back several centuries.

Scientific investigations into the anecdotal claims of efficacy led to some clinical trials in humans, which showed improvement rates of more than 90%.


The recommended daily dosage of Ying Yang Huo (prepared as a 5% icariin flavonoid formulation) is 0.5 - 1.5 mg.

Adverse effects

Extensive use has resulted in dizziness, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth and nosebleed. Large doses can also cause respiratory arrest.

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