Here we are at the Hungry Ghost Bread gardens, Clearpath Herbals sister gardens, to share some epimedium benefits with you
Today I will be sharing some epimedium benefits. Epimedium is a Chinese medicinal plant. It’s prized as a horticultural ground cover in the US because it’s resistant to drought and pests. It doesn’t get eaten or spread easily. It has beautiful flowers, and then the leaves become very beautiful in the fall when they start changing color. That alone makes it a prized plant in the United States. In China, it is also much valued as a medicine.
Epimedium grandiflorum is its scientific name. Some of its common names you may have heard of before, including horny goat weed, lustful sheep herder plant and rowdy lamb herd. I think you are probably getting the drift of what this plant medicine is famous for. Better still, the medicine is in the leaf, so you don’t have to take the plant’s life to acquire it.
In my opinion, epimedium is a superstar herb. By the time I’m done talking about this plant, you’re going to say, “I can’t believe it can do that many things.” But it can.
Understanding epimedium benefits from Chinese medicine perspective
First and foremost, Chinese medicine would say that epimedium is nourishing and tonifying to the Kidneys. Chinese Kidneys encompass and influence much more than the Western idea of the kidneys. Chinese Kidneys are also responsible for storing deep core energy and vitality, what we might call our core reservoir. Chinese medicine would say that it also has strong influence on the endocrine system, especially the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenals. Any plant that helps to nourish and balance this area is very, very useful medicine indeed. Adaptogens are famous for their effect in this area, and although epimedium is not considered to be a true adaptogen, it does exhibit adaptogenic qualities.
There are two sides to the Chinese idea of Kidneys: the Kidney Yin and the Kidney Yang. The Kidney Yin is the deep elixir-holding reservoir of vital strength and reserves. The Kidney Yang is akin to a pilot light that sits atop of that reservoir, ever ready to send that energy wherever you need it. You want both to be operating, the reservoir and the flame. This is why the Kidneys are called the foundation of both our water (Kidney Yin), and our fire (Kidney Yang). Epimedium benefits both, but particularly the Kidney Yang, which has a big say over libido and sexual function.
Epimedium benefits for males and females
Epimedium is very useful for filling up that tank, for both males and females. It provides more strength and vigor in all areas, including feeling horny. It helps people to get up and go, to do what it is they want to do.
For the male reproductive system, it has a specific use in helping keeping the sinuses of the penis shaft from deflating. The sinuses stay filled longer with blood, increasing the duration of an erection. Epimedium is sometimes touted as herbal Viagra. I wouldn’t consider it to be as strong as Viagra all by itself, but it has fewer side effects, and can be used in combination with other libido-stimulating herbs, like pine pollen. I often mix it with stimulating adaptogens like rhodiola, ashwagandha, eleuthero, or ginseng. As a word of caution, you want to be careful using this herb with people who crave excessive stimulation. In this case it is important to also add nourishing, non-stimulating herbs to make sure the reservoir of the Kidney Yin isn’t depleted. Epimedium is very useful in libido tonics and erectile dysfunction protocols for men. In female reproductive formulas, its estrogen-modulating effect makes it useful in menopausal and post-menopausal formulas.
There’s a lot of issues that post-menopausal women complain about, including the loss of elasticity and luster in their skin and hair. Estrogen also exhibits marked estrogenic activity and so helps keeps women’s skin more pliant and healthy. When estrogen levels diminish, skin feels drier. Epimedium is a popular herb to help address vaginal dryness, hair brittleness, and loss of vigor. It is an ingredient in a popular Chinese herbal hormonal replacement formula.
There’s oftentimes an issue with people saying, “Yeah, but can’t too much estrogen lead to a higher rate of breast cancer for estrogen receptor-sensitive cancers.” Well, another major epimedium benefit is that it’s a modulator, or normalizer, of estrogen levels. Epimedium works well enough here that it is being studied to see how effective it is in the treatment of estrogen-sensitive breast cancers.
Epimedium benefits throughout the organ systems
Due to its Kidney Yin and Yang strengthening capability, epimedium is considered an anti-aging herb. This makes it useful for the elderly. It’s often used in elderly formulas with stimulating adaptogens like ginseng to help strengthen vigor and life force.
Let’s take a look at how it works for a few organ-systems. For the nervous system, epimedium is neuroprotective and neuroregenerative. It increases memory capacity, both long and short term. It increases cognitive acuity and focus. It helps you go the extra mile without burning out. This makes epimedium especially useful in anti-aging formulas.
Epimedium benefits also extend to treating depression and anxiety, especially depression. Studies have shown that using epimedium for three to four weeks straight markedly improves mood on a level comparable to psycho-pharmaceutical medications.
Continuing on to the musculoskeletal system, there are constituents in epimedium that prevent bone loss, making it very useful in osteopenia and osteoporosis protocols. Loss of bone density is an issue that plagues a significant percentage of the elderly as well as many post-menopausal women. So here is another use for post-menopausal women, not only for estrogen strengthening but also for bone strengthening.
Epimedium also strengthens the lungs. It’s rejuvenating, protective medicine for asthmatics, especially those who feel weak and deficient, and it is often used in Chinese lung-strengthening protocols.
Epimedium also benefits the lymph-immune system. It helps to proliferate white blood cells throughout the bloodstream, therefore useful in protocols for low white blood cell count. Epimedium also strengthens the immune system and is often used in cancer prevention protocols, including lung cancer. Epimedium also has antiviral properties, including inhibitory action toward tuberculosis.
Epimedium benefits are wide and broad, making it a nominee for superstar herb medicine status, at least in my opinion.
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