Horney Goat Weed in Weight Training

Horney Goat Weed in Weight Training

Pros, Cons, and Natural Alternatives

Around the globe, millions of people are hitting the gym, taking over-the-counter weight training supplements, and retreating to another gym to continue their pursuit of faster body composition changes with added energy. It is the tide of bodybuilding, and undercurrents are pulling a large portion of the weight lifting population far out to sea. Out of those people who are taking supplements, many are beginning to realize the dangers and wasted time involved in using them. Nonetheless, the dietary supplement business is a multi-billion dollar industry centred around convincing consumers to continuously sink money into and sometimes unfortunately, dangerous products. One of the most popular supplement choices would most certainly be in the realm of male sexual enhancement in the form of "natural" products. With tongue-in-cheek ad campaigns, many companies push herbal products with a claim of libido enhancement or erectile dysfunction fixing. These companies have come to find a very large, gullible and often misled demographic in bodybuilders, power lifters, and all other strength athletes who are now looking to Horny Goat Weed as a performance enhancing, testosterone enhancing, and body composition changing wonder drug. This is perhaps one of the biggest hypes in the supplement world, and one that needs to be addressed in a very informative manner. This article will provide the information on the costly decision to use Horny Goat Weed as a performance enhancer (P.E.D.), and potentially better alternatives.

What is Horney Goat Weed?

Horny goat weed, also known as epimedium or barrenwort, is a flowering plant which grows in the wild, largely in China and parts of Asia. Horny goat weed is one of the most common herbal remedies not only in China, but also around the world. It has been in use for over two thousand years now and its primary use has been to increase the sexual drive in men and women. It is also used for various other conditions such as high blood pressure and arthritis, but the sexual drive is what it is most commonly known for. Originally, this herb got its name when a farmer noticed that his goats seemed to have increased sexual activity after consuming the plant. The use of horny goat weed as a natural alternative to Viagra has given it a large reputation in recent years. Unfortunately, Viagra has side effects of potentially deadly blood pressure decreases and counter indications associated with heart conditions. As a result, many men with high blood pressure have turned to horny goat weed as a natural alternative to Viagra. This shift, combined with the simultaneous trend toward natural weight training, leads us to the essay's topic – the use of horny goat weed in weight training. Now, the active ingredients which actually elicit the effects which horny goat weed is known for are present in the leaves. The active ingredient is called Icariin and it works by increasing the levels of nitric oxide which relax smooth muscle. This has the effect of increasing blood flow to the penis, which in turn will cause an erection that is harder and more sustained. This same mechanism is where horny goat weed and natural weight training come together. Increased nitric oxide levels will also relax smooth muscle in blood vessels to skeletal muscle, and in the next two hours that muscle will have increased blood flow. Increased blood flow to muscle is exactly what occurs during aerobic exercise and this is exactly how greater endurance is achieved. Compensation occurs as skeletal muscle adapts to aerobic training by increasing the capillaries to muscle fibers and the length of time an ion is released during each muscular contraction. This is the neuro-muscular efficiency which trainers speak of and each ion release is more efficient with an increased blood flow. Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle will also affect temp driven heat dissipation, which is the same principle as putting a bigger radiator in a car. Thus, endurance athletes can benefit from the same effect – increased blood flow to muscle, and so can the athlete aiming to put on mass. Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle is part of the first stage of muscle growth, and greater endurance will enable longer lifting sessions, maximizing potential gains. Finally, there is one last effect of icariin which would work well for any athlete. Icariin has been shown to reduce cortisol levels in mice. Cortisol is a pre-hormone which can become testosterone or estrogen and increased cortisol levels are not what we want when taking up to that first term estrogen-testosterone ratio in power and physique sports.

Benefits of Horney Goat Weed in Weight Training

When it comes to increasing physical performance (weight training) and recovery, there are a number of purported benefits of using HGW. Although little research has been done specifically with HGW and weight training, we can draw conclusions from the research done on HGW and physical performance and recovery. The primary benefit is that HGW allegedly can increase the level of nitric oxide in the body. One of the primary effects of NO in the body is to dilate blood vessels, which will in turn allow for more blood to reach the skeletal muscles. This means that the muscles will be receiving more oxygen and nutrients, which it can use as fuel to perform exercise or repair itself from exercise. This effect may translate into increases in exercise performance and muscle recovery. Another benefit of increased NO levels is that it can mimic the effects of testosterone in the body. HGW has demonstrated to prevent an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase from working. What acetylcholinesterase does is degrade the levels of NO in the blood. By preventing this enzyme from working, HGW ensures that NO levels do not deplete and remain high for the extended period. This is also relevant to the nervous system where HGW can inhibit the release of certain neurotransmitters, which can leave the muscles in a more relaxed state for longer periods of time. Collectively, these effects not only can improve physical performance and recovery, but the maintenance of relaxed muscles, increased NO levels, and testosterone-like effects can ultimately lead to increases in muscle mass and strength.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Best of all, from horny goat weed is effective and natural, but it is not the best option for all individuals. It is especially not the best choice for weight trainers looking to reach their peak performance naturally. It is important for anyone looking to use horny goat weed and other similar supplements to understand what exactly they are getting into. Step back and look at your philosophy towards weight training or athleticism. Are you a person who strives to reach your goals through hard work, proper diet and rest, or are you the person who will do anything it takes to get an edge, even if it may be potentially harmful in the long run? Those who find themselves in the latter category may benefit from the use of horny goat weed, but it is vital for them to understand the potential risks and side effects associated with this supplement before doing so.

Pros of Using Horney Goat Weed in Weight Training

Increased energy and stamina are perhaps the most widely publicized effects of HGE. An active person, or someone looking to lose weight, would certainly be interested in any supplement claiming to increase energy levels. Overweight people are often low on energy, and this may contribute to the difficulty in shedding unwanted pounds. Chronic low energy can also be a symptom of poor health, and can further perpetuate the inactive, and subsequently overweight, lifestyle. By increasing energy levels HGE may provide the initial incentive or desire to exercise, without the force of will or 'this is something I have to do, whether I like it or not' feeling. Higher energy levels can potentially make workouts more enjoyable and less of a hassle, further fostering the desire to exercise. During calorie-restricted diets energy levels are often low due to the amount of carbohydrate being consumed. Since energy is obtained from burning calories, or more specifically ATP, HGE might provide an important supplementary energy source during low-carb diets. An adaptogen is a substance which is known to raise the body's resistance to infection by inhibiting the spread and growth of certain pathogens. It also aids in quick recovery from illness or physical activity. Although human data is minimal, HGE has been found to be a powerful immune system booster in animals. One study showed that HGE increased the output of antibody-secreting cells. Any more direct effects during training are speculative, but the possibility of less frequent illness and quicker recovery from workouts should not be brushed aside. High intensity weight training regimens are very stressful on the body, and it is easy for these to become 'too much', reducing further gains and even compromising health. Anything which could make these programs safer, by reducing the negative impact of stress, should be investigated.

Increased Energy and Stamina

Increased energy and stamina are very important in order to build upon the already existing muscle mass. Fatigue and muscle weakness will halt any plans to gain muscle as the body must have the energy in order to push the muscles. Currently, it is unknown as to whether Horny Goat Weed works as a chronic energy enhancer like creatine or other ATP enhancers, but it will cause a notable increase in energy as testosterone levels are restored to normal. In today's society, most people suffer from low energy due to sub-optimal hormone levels, emotional stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet. This herb is a simple and cost-effective way to increase energy levels for those people because it will improve general health and has no specific side effects relating to increased energy. The net result is better stamina and energy throughout the day. These general energy increases are hard to quantify, but there are many reports from Horny Goat Weed users that the mental and physical drive for daily tasks is increased.

Enhanced Muscle Growth and Recovery

Muscle growth and recovery is a slow, gradual process, and it is this slow growth that can often make people lose motivation or stray from their goals. A number of herbal supplements have been found to increase the rate of muscle growth and recovery, making the achievement of these goals a more realistic prospect. In a study conducted by Li et al., it was found that Icariin, the active component from Epimedium brevicornum (Horny Goat Weed), has the ability to increase muscle mass and strength following a period of inactivity. The way in which this was achieved was through an increase in the fast and slow muscle myofiber and prevented the increase in adipose tissue. This was determined by the finding of a higher muscle-to-fat ratio and an increase in the cross-sectional area of the myofiber. This is great news for anyone looking to increase their muscle mass and strength, as it shows that using a Horny Goat Weed supplement can help increase the efficiency at which this can be achieved. Furthermore, the prevention of an increase in adipose tissue will aid in the prevention of excess weight gain during a muscle-building phase.

At the heart of any resistance training program, there is one basic goal: to increase the size and strength of the muscles. The same can be said for athletes or bodybuilders who are looking to increase their athletic performance or gain a competitive edge in their chosen sport.

Improved Sexual Performance

An additional issue more commonly found in older men is the fact they may take medication for an ailment which can result in erectile dysfunction. This is not limited to prescription medication. Illnesses and various types medications for treatment can have varied side effects that all lead to the same problem. Horny Goat Weed does not work for all types of erectile dysfunction. That being said, it is a pro-muscle relaxant that has been shown to arouse the nerves and inhibit sensory organ activity. It can stimulate the erectile function in the brain without any influencing iatrogenic erectile function and hardness. Hi and. Chiu CT. The Effects Micronazil Treatment on Estrogen Melatonin and Corporal Acid Physiological Erection and on Masculine Hormones in In Act Science. ICRS Incidence Rate Med Sci. 2000;1(2):79-84. Diagnosis and treatment of erectile dysfunction. In: Althof SE, Rosen RC, eds. Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008:367-386. Take inhibition and HGW can be categorized as a comprehensive method towards symptom elicitation in the age gap. It has never left anyone confused.

A common problem for many bodybuilders is the fact that stress and weight loss can wreak havoc on the sex drive. This is due mainly to a drastic change in hormone levels. With the intention of taking the body to the limit, a strict diet is followed with an intense workout regime. Because of this change in routine and diet, chronic stress and a change in sleep patterns, many athletes have a hard time losing weight and maintaining muscle mass. Long C., Hong CG Stress impairs sexual performance and inhibits sexual desire in a male rat model of male psychophysiological erectile dysfunction. Sexual Medicine. 2012;12(5):1133-1141. Stress experienced at any or all stages in the life cycle may lead to negative effects on sexual function. This is completely reversible in healthy men by simply changing lifestyle, and consuming Horny Goat Weed is an effective way to alleviate stress help restore normal sexual function.

Horny Goat Weed has long been used to treat sexual issues in both men and women. This can help make a person more sexually confident or allow them to perform better. It can help as a natural therapy for those who suffer from sexual performance anxiety. These people may find it difficult to let go during sex and enjoy the moment, etc within a sexual context HGW allows the body to experience the highest levels of mental and physical relaxation which results in sex being more enjoyable and at times, easier to perform.

Cons of Using Horney Goat Weed in Weight Training

It has been speculated that Horny Goat Weed has effects similar to drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors, which include Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. According to guidelines released by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association in 1999, the use of PDE-5 inhibitors is not recommended in patients taking nitrates, which are prescribed for people with chest pain or heart disease. This is because taking PDE-5 inhibitors with nitrates can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Although Horny Goat Weed has not been proven to have these effects, it is advisable that people taking nitrates discuss this with their doctor before using Horny Goat Weed. It has also been said that Horny Goat Weed may interfere with some heart medications by increasing energy levels, which could put strain on the heart. This again is unproven, but it would be wise for people with heart conditions to seek medical advice before using Horny Goat Weed. With any medication, it is vital to be wary of possible drug interactions and consult a professional for advice. If you are considering taking Horny Goat Weed to aid a medical condition, it may be best to consult a herbal practitioner.

Possible Interactions with Medications

Most medications can interact with Horny Goat Weed with potentially dangerous results. Horny Goat Weed features blood thinning properties and as such should not be used with other blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin. Horny Goat Weed also lowers high blood pressure, which can be dangerous if it is used in conjunction with medicine designed to lower low blood pressure. People with heart conditions also should not take Horny Goat Weed, as it can cause present heart medication to become less effective. This has a two-fold result, in that taking Horny Goat Weed can cause a patient to increase their dosage of heart medication to undo the effects of the herb, then if the patient stops taking the herb, it can cause unsafe high blood pressure levels due to increased medication dosages. People taking any medication should consult a doctor before taking Horny Goat Weed to avoid potential dangerous interaction side effects.

Potential Allergic Reactions

Should you develop a skin rash after contact with horny goat weed, seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist. A pharmacist can look at the rash and determine if it is an allergic reaction and your doctor can then provide potential treatment options for both the rash and the osteoporosis.

In a study referenced by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, "Adverse effects were reported with both the herbal and placebo treatments. Gastrointestinal symptoms were the most common, affecting 10.9% of the patients; 6.7% reported dizziness, and 5.6% reported headache. A total of 20 adverse events classified as possibly related or definitely related to the herbal treatment were reported by 18 patients." The adverse effects targeted by this study are general and could be relevant to the consumption of any substance. This further highlights potential adverse reaction that horny goat weed can cause.

Allergic reactions to horny goat weed are possible but uncommon. Symptoms range from skin rashes and stomach upset to more serious allergic reactions including wheezing and difficulty breathing. Stop using horny goat weed if you develop any of these symptoms and seek medical advice.

Lack of Scientific Evidence

The primary criticism of this section is quite valid. The author Lloyd L. Tran and his associates call for more studies which compare the effectiveness of Horny Goat Weed to that of other and/or compare the herb with placebo medications. The article by Chloride et al in 2008 claims the best way to confirm the potential of the herb is with biopsy studies. These would provide more concrete results as opposed to the animal testing that some studies have used. These are steps in the right direction for researching Horny Goat Weed, but it is something that will take a long time and may never actually come to full fruition. With medical science being an ever-changing field, many topics of research come and go and the fact is that Horny Goat Weed may be old news and no longer relevant by the time sufficient research is done. With the increasing research into performance-enhancing drugs, the potential for Horny Goat Weed to be deemed illegal is also high. High-profile cases of supposedly effective substances like THG and modafinil show that government bodies are very quick to take action on substances that may give someone or some team a competitive edge. These are things that are beyond the control of the herb and weight training enthusiasts, so it would be a setback for herbal therapy in weight training. Such an outcome would bring an end to research into Horny Goat Weed and it would never gain a reputation as a sound method of improving muscular performance.

It is in section 3.3 where the main negative surrounding Horny Goat Weed and its use in weight training is identified. It provides readers with a critical analysis of the existing research. While it does highlight a couple of studies which do show some positive results for Horny Goat Weed, they are very limited. One such study by an Irish company in 2005 found that Horny Goat Weed may act in a similar way to Sildenafil, which is a substance used in erectile dysfunction medications. They are considered very preliminary findings and have not been investigated any further.

Natural Alternatives to Horney Goat Weed

There are many natural alternatives to Horny Goat Weed that have been proven effective for increasing libido and testosterone. These three herbs are Maca Root, Tribulus Terrestris, and Fenugreek. Maca Root is the root of a plant native to the Andes Mountains in Peru that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It has been proven to increase libido and sexual performance in both men and women. Maca also has the ability to increase stamina and elevate mood. Beyond the many sexual benefits, Maca has been shown to increase mental clarity and focus. It is a highly nutritious herb with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Tribulus Terrestris is a very common herb used for boosting libido and as an alternative to Horny Goat Weed. It has been shown to increase testosterone production in the body and also has the ability to increase blood flow by relaxing smooth muscles. Studies have been inconclusive about the sexual benefits in humans but the herb has shown similar benefits in animal studies. Fenugreek is the last herb I will discuss and is one of the safest alternatives to Horny Goat Weed. A recent clinical trial found that Fenugreek had a significant influence on both upper and lower body strength and body composition. A noticeable increase in strength and leanness in body composition could be tied to an increase in sexual performance for many people. Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol and has been said to help Diabetes by lowering blood sugar. Fenugreek would be a good alternative for those who are health conscious.

Maca Root

Maca root, also known as Lepidium meyenii, is an exceptionally grounded root or tuber that looks like a radish. Maca root is a crucial anabolic compound that is used by a selection of athletes from bodybuilders to cyclists. What makes maca root so compelling to these individuals is that the product is a complete protein. Almost always, it is rare that you will find a plant extract to be a complete protein. Maca root is comprised of 31 different minerals, making it a great weapon to have for an athlete because it will assist in recuperation and performance, and will aid the individual in a conspicuous manner to restore his/her body. These minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and silica. Maca root is high in sterols which are essentially anabolic steroids. However, all sterols that are found in plants are legal and are the precursors to anabolic compounds in the body. Stating the obvious, this product is not a drug and is completely legal. This is a key indication and difference between using maca root and horny goat weed to raise testosterone levels. This may be a more desired route to raise testosterone levels for some people, considering that they are not risking potential side effects and or legal issues to acquire steroids or anabolic drugs.

Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris is yet another dietary supplement which is used as a natural alternative to treat a variety of illnesses including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, kidney stones, irregular or rapid heartbeat, and to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause. As a supplement which is used to maximize the muscles gains and/or for muscle development in athletes and body builders, little is known about the use and safety of Tribulus supplementation. But, because of claims from manufacturers and users of the supplement about its effects on testosterone, little is known about how Tribulus may affect humans. It's claimed that a saponin, or phytochemical, inside Tribulus Terrestris stimulates androgen (a hormone that helps to develop and maintain male features) production, which may include an increase in the production of testosterone. Although studies done with this supplement have been conducted on animals and there is clear indication of increased testosterone levels and muscle mass, results may not be the same in humans. This is because animals have a different physiology and respond to drugs/supplements differently. The claim that it increases testosterone has caught the attention of many athletes. Blurring the lines between safe and banned substances, some athletes have used Tribulus Terrestris to assist their athletic performance. This could have adverse effects for athletes competitive in a sport where drug testing is conducted, because although Tribulus is not included in the list of banned substances, prohormones or anabolic steroids are used to increase testosterone and the use of these have been detected by increased levels of testosterone. Coaches and athletes should use caution towards this supplement as now there are a couple of known NCAA athletes who have failed drug tests due to increased testosterone levels which have been linked to the use of not only anabolic steroids, but Tribulus Terrestris. Since learning of how athletes have been using this supplement, the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has expressed concern about the supplement and has placed it on the NCAA Banned Drugs List Screening Level 1, which is defined by a substance which may mimic the effects of anabolic steroids. For all the hype and speculation of this, it is still unclear whether or not this supplement has anything that can significantly improve athletic performance in the absence of increased testosterone levels. In other words, it is still a mystery whether or not taking this supplement proves to be beneficial to athletes who have an interest in their own health as opposed to athletes looking to increase testosterone through the use of banned substances.


Fenugreek and Testosterone Preclinical evidence of fenugreek's influence on testosterone is promising. A study on male albino rats found that fenugreek seed extract had a significant influence on both the HPG axis and testicular histology. The study recorded a significant increase in the weights of the soleus, dartos, and triceps muscles of the rat, which was said to probably be a result of steroid-like starting materials found in fenugreek and endocrine changes brought about by the androgenic effect of sapogenins. The extract has also been shown to act directly on the androgenic sites and increase the level of testosterone. An Australian study assessed the effects of fenugreek extract on strength and body composition in human males. The 6-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that a daily dose of 500mg of the extract had a significant effect on both upper and lower body strength in comparison to a placebo. This was accompanied by a partial improvement in body composition with the extract group.

Fenugreek is an annual plant and cultivated worldwide as a semi-arid crop. Fenugreek was traditionally used in alternative medicine practices and herbal preparation of Desi medical systems for treating various ailments such as diabetes, high cholesterol, wounds and inflammation, digestive problems, also to enhance feminine beauty and increase breast milk in lactating women. Fenugreek is also said to have aphrodisiac properties and increase libido. The aphrodisiac and testosterone boosting potential has led to fenugreek becoming a popular supplement in weight training, and in recent years fenugreek has been investigated for its potential role as a natural anabolic or testosterone booster. Fenugreek is now commonly consumed as part of curry powder and is both a spice as well as a supplement.