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Icariin is a plant extract supplement also known as Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium Grandiflorum). It is primarily used to promote sexual vitality and supports healthy androgen levels for both men and women [1] [2]. It is may also be beneficial for the circulatory system at the recommended serving size [1]


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Icariin Reviews




At a Quick Glance


Also Known As

Horny Goat Weed
Herba Epimdii
Fairy Wings
Rowdy Lamb Herb


How it Works

Neuroprotective [1]
PDE5 Inhibitor [1]
Promotes NO2 Signalling [1]


Is Used For

Aphrodisiac Effects [1]
Energy Booster [5]
Improving Mood [5]


Medical Disclaimer

Not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment. Please read and fully understand the potential adverse effects before using this product. These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA and are not written by a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before using any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.





Benefits and Effects on Humans

Based on Available Scientific Research and Anecdotal Evidence



Used For: Efficacy
Aphrodisiac Effects ★★★★★
Improving Energy Levels ★★★
Enhancing Mood ★★★
Pre-Workout ★★★



How to Use

Recommended Serving Size and Application


Serving Size

A recent study by researchers at the US National Library of Medicine has found that for the best effects, Icariin dosage should be no higher than 10 mg/ kg. We recommend a serving size no greater than 50-150 mg, once to twice daily.


  1. ‘Toss-and-wash’ method:
    1. Measure the correct serving size of Icariin with a measuring scoop or scale.
    2. Pour this onto a credit card, spoon, or piece of paper.
    3. Toss the powder into the back of your mouth.
    4. Wash it down with a glass of water.
    5. Horny Goat Weed Tea:
      1. Measure the correct serving size of Icariin with a measuring scoop or scale.
      2. Pour into a glass of hot water or tea.
      3. Stir until fully dissolved and drink.
      4. If necessary, wash the glass out with more water and swallow any residual undissolved powder.


Evidence-Based Research




1. Summary


Icariin, or Horny Goat Weed extract, is a natural flavonoid occurring in plants of the Epimedium genus, best known for supporting sexual health and a healthy libido [1]. This type of plant has a very long history of use in Asia, where it is used in a variety of remedies and tonics for longevity, vitality, and sexual health [1 4]. The scientific name for Horny Goat Weed is Epimedium, but it can also be referred to as Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat, fairy wings, or Yin Yang Huo. Most Horny Goat Weed supplements contain extracts from the Epimedium grandiflorum species [3].


Icariin-containing plants are found predominately in China and are woody, small and evergreen with characteristic flowers. Several studies have been performed on Horny Goat Weed, and the active component has several beneficial actions in humans. These include: supporting sexual vitality, providing antioxidant protection, and supporting a healthy circulatory system, along with promoting healthy bones and boosting androgens (sex hormones) [2, 4]. This is why so many people talk about Horny Goat Weed as a top aphrodisiac supplement.


The use of plants from the Epimedium genus has a long history in China as there are over a thousand years of its recorded use for traditional medicinal purposes. In China, plants from the Epimedium genus have the name Yin Yang Hou. The plants enjoy deep shade and are able to compete with tree roots, which makes them good shade plants [3]. Traditionally, the leaves are used to create powdered extracts, but the plants also produce flowers of white, yellow, and violet. Today, the extracts from these plants are sold as dietary supplements in the West.


LiftMode Icariin extracts are 90% to 98% pure and come with a 1/32nd teaspoon measuring scoop (0.15cc), which contains approximately 50 mg of the pure compound. The recommended serving size is around 50 - 150 mg, depending on the weight and desired strength.  



horny goat weed flower


2. Types of Icariin


Horny Goat Weed supplements are sold by a variety of vendors, some more reputable than others. As a result, there is some variation with regards to the strength of these extracts. One very common form of Horny Goat Weed extract is called Icariin 60. People often ask the question, ‘what is Icariin 60?’

Icariin 60 refers to a 60% extract, where 60% of the supplement is the pure active compound. You can find extracts that are weaker (Icariin 40%) and stronger (Icariin 80% or greater). LiftMode Icariin is 90% – 98% pure, and it is one of the purest forms of Yin Yang Huo available today. We recommend using a high purity supplement in order to avoid the use of fillers and to save you money.



3. Benefits and Effects in Humans


3.1. Aphrodisiac Effects

Icariin’s best-known benefit is its ability to act as an aphrodisiac for both men and women [4 - 7]. This is an interesting benefit because it appears to have slightly different effects for men and women. In men, some studies have pointed to a potential increase in testosterone levels [7]. However, this does not appear to happen in women. Nevertheless, Icariin is able to improve sexual vitality in both genders, making it an interesting aphrodisiac supplement.

The Icariin molecule is a flavonoid, which is a secondary plant metabolite, with the characteristic 15-carbon skeleton, two phenyl rings, and a heterocyclic ring structure. Its effects in the mammalian body include acting as a PDE5 inhibitor [5]. This allows continued function of cyclic GMP in the smooth muscles, and this process increases capillary blood flow to smooth muscle cells around the body (e.g. genitals, heart, and lungs). Therefore, Horny Goat Weed’s best-known effect is its support of healthy sexual vitality, especially in men. [6]

This supplement has been used in multiple reviews which evaluated substances that have the potential to improve sexual vitality, and Icariin is an ongoing topic of research. In one of the most recent studies of this type, researchers made the following claim:

“… studies have shown that Epimedium may restore low levels of both testosterone and thyroid hormone, bringing low levels back to their normal levels which may account for some of its benefits in improving sexual libido. Other benefits to Epimedium involve increased muscle mass.”(Lim, 2017). [7]

In another recent study at the Shantou University Medical College in China, researchers found that Horny Goat Weed had testosterone-mimetic properties, which is the hormone that is involved in sexual arousal and vitality:

(1) Icariin improved the condition of reproductive organs and increased the circulating levels of testosterone. (2) [Horny Goat Weed] treatment also improved the steady-state serum BGP and might have promoted bone formation. At the same time, it decreased the serum levels of StrACP and might have reduced the bone resorption. (3) Icarrin suppressed the extent of apoptosis of penile cavernosal smooth muscle cells.” (Zhang and Yang, 2006). [8]


3.2. Supports a Healthy Circulatory System

Some research has pointed to Icariin’s ability to improve the activity of an enzyme called Nitric Oxide Synthase, which produces nitric oxide in the body [1]. Heightened nitric oxide activity increases the size of blood vessels, thereby allowing greater blood flow through the body. Overall, nitric oxide is a vital compound that promotes healthy circulation through the body and it is also important for sexual vitality. [9] 

Recently, important information has come to light regarding Icariin’s potential to be used as a supplement which supports a healthy circulatory system. More specifically, it appears to work as an effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substance that helps destroy harmful ‘free-radicals’ and toxins that can build up in the bloodstream. Furthermore, researchers have highlighted this supplement’s ability to help protect DNA from damage, to support healthy endothelium and smooth muscle function, and to activate lipid (fat) metabolism.[10] Overall, these properties help maintain and support healthy blood flow and circulation system.

Another use of the Horny Goat Weed extract is to maintain healthy levels of lipids (fats) in the blood. Hyperlipidemia characteristically involves abnormally elevated levels of lipids (fats) in the blood and it is commonly found in people who are suffering from obesity. Horny Goat Weed has been shown to help your body to maintain a healthy blood-lipid profile.[11] Indeed, the results of a recent study describing its effects indicate that:

Icariin is a novel PPARα agonist, activates lipid metabolism gene expressions in the liver, which could be a basis for its lipid-lowering effects and its beneficial effects… ”[11].


3.3. Supports Healthy Bones and Cartilage

A new study has shown that derivatives of the Horny Goat Weed could potentially be used as a compound for cartilage tissue engineering because it has been shown to up-regulate the expression of genes that are responsible for chondroid tissue formation, and it may also improve the restoration of osteochondral defects [12]. This could allow Icariin to be used as an alternative to other growth factors and it indicates that this supplement may support the health of bones and cartilage tissue.

Horny Goat Weed extract benefits also include reinforcing a healthy bone structure. A study has recently been published that supports the traditional Chinese use of the plant as a substance that promotes healthy bones. It has been shown to produce anabolic effects in bone, which means that it may help your body to build strong bones. This study provides further evidence that Icariin may increase mineral density and help stimulate osteoblastic cell proliferation, which is a finding that the same researchers previously reported [13]


3.4. Horny Goat Weed for Women

Many people online are wondering about Horny Goat Weed for women, and whether or not it can be used to improve vitality for females as well as males. Horny Goat Weed’s effects appear to work for both men and women, due to its ability to increase androgen levels (sex hormones) in men, and to improve libido without altering hormones in women [4 - 7]. However, Icariin does have some effects that are more beneficial to men, in terms of its PDE4 inhibitor properties [5, 6]. Overall, Horny Goat Weed extract can be recommended to both men and women who are looking for a powerful aphrodisiac supplement.


aphrodisiac benefits of icariin


4. Icariin Combinations


4.1. With Maca

When wondering about how to take this supplement, many people recommend combining with Maca (Lepidium meyenii). Maca is a vegetable that belongs to the broccoli family. It has a long history of use as an aphrodisiac in Peru and in villages throughout the Andes [14].

There is also some evidence that Maca and Icariin may have a synergistic relationship when they are taken together, which is why so many people wonder about this supplement stack today. Unfortunately, there is significant difficulty in obtaining sustainable sources of Maca, which makes the supplement difficult to produce on a larger scale, and it also makes it expensive for the consumer.



5. Safety and Toxicity


5.1. Side Effects

The potential side effects of this supplement have been researched thoroughly and it has been found that moderate use of Horny Goat Weed extracts very rarely results in negative side-effects. However, according to research, it is possible to experience dizziness, dry mouth, thirstiness, and vomiting if it is taken at high doses or for a long period of time [15].

Importantly, these side effects are very rare and are typically only noticeable at serving sizes far greater than those recommended, or when it is used alongside other supplements or compounds. One report discussed the development of a vasculitic rash in response to a product containing both Horny Goat Weed extract and Ginko bilboa [16]. In addition, Icariin may be unsafe for pregnant women, people with bleeding disorders, low blood pressure, or hormone-sensitive cancers. Please speak to your doctor before taking this supplement if you have any underlying medical conditions.




Why Buy from Us?

Our mission is to help improve the quality of your life. We develop, test and distribute science-based, top quality pure supplements and nootropics to support your body and mind. We provide independent third-party testing for all our products, which are always shipped with a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) to ensure the highest quality and purity.

We are a multi-faceted team from around the world, with expertise in a variety of areas including biochemistry, physiology, neuroscience, microbiology, as well as business and marketing. We are well-known for our great customer service and high-quality products, attested to on Trustpilot: as well as Reddit, and have an A+ score from the BBB.



How We Research Our Content

Our content is written using meticulous research methods and claims are backed by links to scientific references, wherever possible. The author and editors of Liftmode's Research Team have strong academic backgrounds in microbiology, physiology, and biochemistry.

Content Updated On: February 15th, 2019



Content By:

Written By: Tristan Pelser, B.Sc. in Molecular Biology
Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Karen Vieira, PhD in Biomedical Sciences


Scientific Support and References

[1] Shindel, A. W., Xin, Z. C., Lin, G., Fandel, T. M., Huang, Y. C., Banie, L., Breyer, B. N., Garcia, M. M., Lin, C. S., & Lue, T. F. (2010). Erectogenic and neurotrophic effects of icariin, a purified extract of horny goat weed (Epimedium spp.) in vitro and in vivo. J Sex Med, 7(4 Pt 1):1518-28.

[2] Xue, L., Wang, Y., Jiang, Y., Han, T., Nie, Y., Zhao, L., Zhang, Q., & Qin, L. (2012). Comparative Effects of Er-Xian Decoction, Epimedium Herbs, and Icariin with Estrogen on Bone and Reproductive Tissue in Ovariectomized Rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012:241416,

[3] Rudy, M.R. (2010). An Evaluation Report on Barrenworts for the Shade Garden. [online] Available at:

[4] Yan, F.-F., Liu, Y., Liu, Y.-F., & Zhao, Y.-X. (2008). Herba Epimedii water extract elevates estrogen level and improves lipid metabolism in postmenopausal women. Phytotherapy Research, 22(9), 1224–1228.

[5] Ning, H., Xin, Z. C., Lin, G., Banie, L., Lue, T. F., & Lin, C. S. (2006). Effects of icariin on phosphodiesterase-5 activity in vitro and cyclic guanosine monophosphate level in cavernous smooth muscle cells. Urology, 68(6):1350-4.

[6] Jiang, Z., Hu, B., Wang, J., Tang, Q., Tan, Y., Xiang, J., & Liu, J. (2006). Effect of icariin on cyclic GMP levels and on the mRNA expression of cGMP-binding cGMP-specific phosphodiesterase (PDE5) in penile cavernosum. J Huazhong Univ Sci Technolog Med Sci, 26(4):460-2.

[7] Lim, P. H. C. (2017). Asian herbals and aphrodisiacs used for managing ED. Translational Andrology and Urology, 6(2):167-175.

[8] Zhang, Z. B., & Yang, Q. T. (2006). The testosterone mimetic properties of icariin. Asian Journal of Andrology, 8(5): 601–605.

[9] Shen, W., Hintze, T.H., Wolin, M.S. (1995). Nitric Oxide. Circulation, 92:3505-3512.

[10] Fang, J., Zhang, Y. (2017). Icariin, an Anti-atherosclerotic Drug from Chinese Medicinal Herb Horny Goat Weed. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8:734.

[11] Lu, Y. F., Xu, Y. Y., Jin, F., Wu, Q., Shi, J. S., Liu, J. (2014). Icariin is a PPARα activator inducing lipid metabolic gene expression in mice. Molecules, 19(11):18179-91.

[12] Li, D., Yuan, T., Zhang, X., Xiao, Y., Wang, R., Fan, Y., Zhang, X. (2012). Icariin: a potential promoting compound for cartilage tissue engineering. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 20(12):1647-56.

[13] Mok, S. K., Chen, W. F., Lai, W. P., Leung, P. C., Wang, X. L., Yao, X. S., & Wong, M. S. (2010). Icariin protects against bone loss induced by oestrogen deficiency and activates oestrogen receptor-dependent osteoblastic functions in UMR 106 cells. British journal of pharmacology, 159(4), 939-49.

[14] Meissner, H. O., Mrozikiewicz, P., Bobkiewicz-Kozlowska, T., Mscisz, A., Kedzia, B., Lowicka, A., Reich-Bilinska, H., Kapczynski, W., … Barchia, I. (2006). Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (I) Biochemical and Pharmacodynamic Study on Maca using Clinical Laboratory Model on Ovariectomized Rats. International journal of biomedical science : IJBS2(3), 260-72.

[15] (2018). Horny Goat Weed. [online]. Available at:

[16] Metz, D., Weston, P., & Barker, D. (2009). Case report of vasculitic rash induced by Ginkgo biloba and/or Horny Goat Weed. BMJ case reports2009 bcr07.2008.0399.