3.3.8 Horny Goat Weed

Horny Goat Weed #

Binomial / Botanical Name Epimedium Grandiflorum
Street Names Horny Goat Weed; Barrenwort; Bishop’s Hat; Fairy Wings
Major Active Compound Icariin (Several Species)
Indigenous Source China, Japan, Korea
Form Capsule (Powdered Plant Matter)
RoA Oral
Personal Rating On Shulgin Scale +


Horny Goat Weed is often claimed to be an aphrodisiac and an aid to treat erectile dysfunction. Even established health sites weigh in on this aspect, with Webmd.com for instance tentatively stating that “Horny goat weed contains chemicals that might help increase blood flow and improve sexual function”. Wikipedia adds that “the herb has been used for this purpose in traditional Chinese medicine”.

However, I have also encountered occasional references to antidepressant-like effects. This will be the focus of my research, although for completeness I will document any change pertaining to libido (noting that I don’t suffer from erectile dysfunction).

Regarding supply, at time of writing this is widely sold as a herbal supplement and as an ingredient with other herbs. I purchased my sample of four 1000mg capsules from Amazon.co.uk, and was encouraged by the label, which stated the following:

Horny Goat Weed Extract. No added chemical fillers or extras 100% Natural Just as Nature Intended”.

Establishing dose wasn’t straight forward although there were a few references here and there. For example Rxlist.com offered “3-4 caps orally 90 minutes before sexual activity“, whilst Examine.com specified an estimated human dose of “900mg Icariin for a 150lb person“ for “testosterone boosting effects”.

I am in fact more or less this weight, and given that the vendor claimed that the sample supply contains 30% icariin, the dose broadly equates to three capsules. This is what I will go for.

I pop the capsules at 3:30pm with fizzy water. An hour later I feel warm and flushed, and a bit foggy. Certainly there is an effect although I wouldn’t say this was necessarily psychoactive.

On 90 minutes I am in the same space. I have a warm flush, with my face feeling hot, and I feel slightly dazed. It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to suggest that there are perhaps similarities to a sugar rush.

Regarding libido, there isn’t much to report. I have possibly more energy at my disposal, but there is no significant increase in sexual arousal or drive, compared to normal, even when testing via a couple of stimuli.

It is reasonable to state that there is a problem here. I have significant exposure to much more formidable chemsex drugs, such as methamphetamine and mephedrone (see the chemsex segment in Section 1 of this book), which could well be setting the bar far too high for this experiment. I didn’t expect to be anywhere near to that sort of benchmark, and I am not, but nonetheless, I feel that any effect in this area is quite minor. I note though that perhaps a higher dose might yield a better return.

After a couple of hours the flush and haze persists but it is possibly not as intense. I remain aware of a difference to my normal status, but this appears to be energy related rather than psychoactive.

I decide to check my blood pressure and heart rate. The former is fairly normal, but strangely my BPM is a little lower than usual. This of course could account for the slight fuzziness, although not the flush, at least in terms of a reason I can imagine.

During the course of the evening the effects fade slowly. I feel back to baseline by the time I retire to bed (9.30pm).

Overall I remain undecided regarding its status as a psychoactive. I wasn’t stimulated, but I did feel a sustained head rush and was a little hazy for some time. Certainly it isn’t an experiment I would repeat, as I felt that I got little of value from the experience, and although there was something to it, I would probably classify it as somewhat disappointing in terms of recreation.