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Epimedium (yin yang huo)
What is epimedium? What is it used
Epimedium is a large, leafy plant native to China which has
been given the humorous moniker of "horny goat weed"
for its alleged sexual potency. The plant has short, thin
stems and large, shovel-shaped green leaves that are harvested
during the summer and fall. Some species of epimedium also
contain green or purple flowers, but they all have the same
medicinal properties. The above-ground portions of the plant,
including the stems, are used in herbal remedies.
Epimedium is used for a variety of disorders. It is sometimes
used alone or with rehmannia to treat impotence and frequent
urination, and as an aphrodisiac. It is also used to treat
arthralgia, rheumatic conditions, back pain and muscle spasms.
In traditional Chinese medicine, epimedium is believed to
tonify the kidney by strengthening kidney yang, dispelling
wind and eliminating dampness.
How much epimedium should I take?
Most practitioners recommend 6-12 grams of epimedium depending
on the condition being treated. The herb can be decocted in
water for an oral dose; ormacerated in wine for an infusion;
simmered into a soft extract, or mashed into a powder.
What forms of epimedium are available?
Dried epimedium leaves can be found at some Asian markets
and specialty health food stores. Epimedium powders and extracts
are also available.
What can happen if I take too much
epimedium? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
Because epimedium has a "drying" effect in traditional
Chinese medicine, it should not be used in cases of hyperactivity
of fire due to yin deficiency, or by people who are otherwise
yin-deficient. As of this writing, there are no known drug
interactions with epimedium. As always, make sure to consult
with a qualified health care practitioner before taking epimedium
or any other dietary supplement or herbal remedy.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
- Dong X, et al. Effects of sichuan herb
epimedium on the concentration of plasma middle molecular
substances and sulfhydryl group of yang-deficiency [in Chinese.]
Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih Apr 1995;20(4):238-9,
- Hiltunen R, et al. Isolation and immunomodulatory
effect of flavonol glycosides from epimedium hunanense.
Planta Med 1997 Aug;63(4):316-9.
- Liao HJ, et al. Effects of epimedium sagittatum
on quality of life and cellular immunity in patients of
hemodialysis maintenance [in Chinese.] Chung Kuo Chung
His I Chie Ho Tsa Chin Apr 1995; 15(4):202-4.
- Shen CC, et al. New prenylfiavones from
leaves of epimedium sagittatum. J Nat Prod Apr 1996;59(4):12-4.
- Wang J, et al. Effects of epimedium sagittatum
on soluble IL-2 receptor and IL-6 levels in patients undergoing
hemodialysis [in Chinese.] Chung Hua Nei Ko Tsa Chin