Side Effects and Risks of Using Horny Goat Weed

Horny goat weed is currently being prescribed as a herbal remedy for a number of problems. Despite being used worldwide, horny goat weed is not for everyone as there are a lot of risks associated with it. It has also been recorded to cause a number of side effects which may expose people to life-threatening situations.

Horny Goat Weed: Warnings and Side Effects

If you are suffering from issues related to your sex drive and want a completely natural and safe cure for it, horny goat weed is the right solution for you. This herb works naturally to treat all the sexual problems that you might be suffering from.

The use of horny goat weed as an aphrodisiac goes back to the beginning of Traditional Chinese Medicine. This herb has recently achieved worldwide attention as an important natural agent. It is also known as Epimedium, a leady plant found abundantly in high altitude areas. The leaves of this plant are extremely beneficial for human health. This is because they are rich in certain components such as sterols, flavonoids, polysaccharides and magnoflorine.

Studies have proven how horny goat weed have high success rates in treating low sex drive. While the exact process its working is not known, certain theories have been proposed on the possible mechanism of action of horny goat weed.

The useful effects of horny goat weed are numerous and include treatment of disorders like joint pains, menopausal discomfort, bronchitis, memory loss, high blood pressure, physical fatigue, mental stress and bone loss. However, the main reason for its popularity is its stimulating effect on sex drive of a person.

Mechanism of Action of Horny Goat Weed

The effectiveness of horny good weed is due to its inhibitory effects on an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase (AChE). This enzyme normally stops the impulse transmission, particularly at the cholinergic synapses. These synapses are found at neuromuscular junctions and are required for generating quick responses at these sites. Horny weed goat increases the level of cholinergic neurotransmitters and improves the sexual arousal.

Horny goat weed consists of several active ingredients, the most important of which include Papaverine and Icariin. Both Papaverine and Icariin have direct inhibitory effects on two enzymes i.e. phosphodiesterase type 4 and 5. The inhibition of these enzymes cause an increase in the penile blood flow and relax the muscles. For this reason, supplementation of these weeds can treat sexual disorders.

What are the Side Effects of Horny Goat Weed

Horny goat weed is mostly available in the form of capsules or tablets. It can also be used at home in the form of herbal teas. Irrespective of the way it is used, horny goat weed has been found to induce certain side effects in the user. Some of these side effects are explained below.

1. Breathing Problems

As proven by a lot of medical studies, consumption of horny goat weed may cause breathing problems. These breathing problems may include hyperreflexia, a condition in which the reflexes of the body become overactive. The problem can sometimes aggravate to cause respiratory arrest.

Respiratory arrest is a severe condition and can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. It also requires immediate and careful medical attention. If you experience this condition while taking horny goat weed, it is advised to stop using the herb immediately. You should immediately contact a doctor to resolve the symptoms before they aggravate. A doctor must also be consulted whether you should continue using Epimedium in the future.

2. Vomiting and Dizziness

Feeling dizzy or nauseous occasionally is no big deal. However, if horny goat weed is causing you to vomit or feel dizzy more often than usual, this might be problematic. You will definitely feel from mild nausea as your body is slowly adapting to horny goat weed. However, increase in the intensity of this symptom indicates that you need to stop taking this drug immediately.

3. Thirst and Dry Mouth

You are bound to experience excessive dryness of mouth as you start taking horny goat weed. However, these effects are not generally considered as life-threatening. This condition is often referred to as xerostomia and may lead to tooth decay in long-term cases. This is because the normal saliva production is decreased and the mouth is unable to protect the oral cavity from bacterial infections.
If you experience this side effect, start monitoring your daily use of Epimedium. Try to stick with the recommended dosage of this herb. If the problem does not go away, you may need to talk to your doctor about a readjustment of the dose. You can also discontinue horny goat weed if this side effect becomes too problematic for you.

4. Heart Arrhythmia

Heart arrhythmia is also reported in men who take horny goat weed for a long duration of time. Research has also proven how this herb is capable of inducing abnormal heartbeats. Horny goat weed consists of certain constituents that are also found in certain ED drugs. This explains why Epimedium can cause an increase in heartbeat. For this reason, this herb may not be the ideal solution if you are a heart patient.

Horny goat weed can also induce other cardiovascular complications including a decrease in blood pressure. If you are suffering from a low BP already, the drug is not for you.

Other side effects that can occur while you are taking horny goat weed include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Epistaxis or nosebleeds
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding, manifested by blood in vomitus and stools
  • Symptoms of hemorrhagic stroke such as weakness of limbs, vision abnormalities and speech changes
  • Allergic reaction manifested by itching, hives, skin rash and oedema of lips, mouth, throat or tongue
  • Wheezing

Most of these side effects occur when horny goat weed is taken in larger doses for an extended period of time. Studies have proven how this herb and the phytoestrogens present in it can be safely taken for as long as 2 years. The best and the most suitable way to use this herb is to consult with a healthcare professional and get an estimated recommended dose and time period.

Drug Interactions

In addition to the side effects mentioned above, horny goat weed also have a potential to interact with different medications. These medications include both prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter agents. For example, medications used for managing high blood pressure may interact with horny goat weed. Because horny goat weed itself has a potential to decrease the blood pressure, taking it along with such medications may induce fatal results in the body.

Horny goat weed also mimic the effects of estrogen and can increase its concentration in women. Hence, taking it with estrogen supplements like ethinyl estradiol can cause side effects.

Horny goat weed must also not be taken with blood thinners such as aspirin and diclofenac. This is because horny goat weed slows the process of blood clotting itself and can increase the chances of bleeding and bruising when taken with blood thinners.

Special Precautions

Certain precautions must be kept in mind while considering horny goat weed as a supplement. These precautions are mentioned below:

Pregnancy and Lactation:

Horny goat weed is unsafe in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. This agent can potentially harm the developing fetus hence, it must be stopped during pregnancy. Similarly, not much information is available about its safety in women who are breastfeeding.

Bleeding Disorders

As mentioned above, horny goat weed has a capability to slow down clotting of blood. It can, in turn, increase the danger of bleeding. Hence, people suffering from bleeding disorders should not use it.

Hormone-Sensitive Cancers

People who are suffering from hormone-sensitive cancers must not use this weed as it has pro-estrogenic effects. These problems commonly include uterine cancer and breast cancer.

Surgery

Because horny goat weed increases the risk of bleeding, it must not be used prior to surgery.

How to Avoid Side Effects of Horny Goat Weed

Most of the side effects caused by horny goat weed can be avoided by carefully regulating its daily dose. Because limited scientific studies have been conducted on horny goat weed, there is no exact information regarding its recommended dosage. Most of its commercial products contain 500 to 750 mg of horny goat weed hence, it can be considered as a safe range

A healthcare professional can guide you better about dosage of horny goat weed. While prescribing a proper dose, certain factors need to be considered including your age, sex and any underlying health problems.

Horny goat weed might be the perfect remedy for your problems but it is important to note that this herb is not medically approved and can cause side effects. Also, remember that natural products might be a safer option, but they are not always useful for your body.