Epimedium grandiflorum

Physician-designed supplements raising standards
Dr. Bill Rawls
Epimedium grandiflorum, purple flower
Epimedium grandiflorum

Epimedium is a low-growing perennial plant native to China, Japan, and Korea. There are 52 species of epimedium offering similar properties; Epimedium grandiflorum is a the most common species found in supplements in the Western world.

In the Western world, epimedium is primarily known for its benefits to sexual vitality, but in China, epimedium is a highly revered herb that has been used for a variety of purposes for at least 2,000 years.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), epimedium was used to restore vitality and strengthen the body, with sexual performance being one benefit of that larger goal. Strengthening the body included supporting healthy muscle and bone mass, strengthening the heart and cardiovascular system, promoting joint health, enhancing energy, and supporting optimal immune functions and healthy aging.

Epimedium was also used widely by women in TCM for relieving menopausal symptoms and supporting healthy bone mass after menopause.

Epimedium’s wide range of benefits isn’t surprising considering its biochemical makeup. The herb contains numerous bioactive chemical compounds. Flavonoids with health-promoting activity predominate, but epimedium is also rich in lignans, phenol glycosides, sesquiterpenes, and other biochemical substances with potential beneficial properties.

Benefits of Epimedium*

While epimedium has been widely used in its native regions for several hundred years, the scientific community has only recently taken notice of this remarkable herb and confirmed its traditional uses in animal studies.

Now classified as an adaptogen, epimedium works primarily by influencing a part of the brain called the hypothalamus that controls metabolism and energy (thyroid), reaction to stress (adrenals), and reproductive functions (testes/ovaries).

Epimedium has been shown to help:

  • Support sexual health
  • Promote muscle mass and bone mass
  • Boost immune function
  • Ease the normal symptoms of menopause
  • Support the cardiovascular system
  • Energize

Epimedium for Sexual Health*

Individual chemical components of epimedium have been found to support the reproductive system in a variety of ways. Primarily, it appears that epimedium provides positive feedback to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which helps normalize reproductive glandular function. The effect in males is different from females — women experience benefit, without concerns of masculinization. Chemical components of epimedium also provide antioxidant and direct support of glandular functions.

Epimedium for Stress*

By positively influencing the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, epimedium helps balance adrenal and metabolic functions that have been disrupted by stress. This makes epimedium a true adaptogen in every sense of the word.

Epimedium for Muscle and Bone Mass*

Epimedium positively influences bone mass and muscle mass. In animal studies, it was found to suppress osteoclasts (bone resorbing cells), and stimulate osteoblasts (bone building cells) and bone marrow cells. Epimedium has also been shown to promote cartilage synthesis.

Epimedium for Cardiovascular Health*

Epimedium has been found to promote blood flow by supporting the healthy function of blood vessels and vascular smooth muscles. It has also been found to help normalize blood viscosity and electrical conduction in the heart, properties that support the entire cardiovascular system.

Epimedium for Antioxidant*

Epimedium contains a huge variety of antioxidants that provide protection to mitochondria, organelles in our cells that produce chemical energy. Substances in epimedium also enhance superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, two enzymes essential for optimal protection against oxidative stress.

Epimedium for Immune Support*

Epimedium has been found to have broad effects on the immune system, including stimulation of the thymus, an organ that produces T cells for the immune system; promotion of phagocytosis, which removes pathogens and debris such as dead tissue cells and other wastes; and modulation of cytokines, molecules that aid in immune system response.

Combined, these properties allow the body to run at peak performance with ample energy, minus the jitters that can come with overstimulation.

Side effects: Possible mild side effects include sleep disturbances and nervousness. Because epimedium is an energizing adaptogen, it should be used with caution by individuals with sleep issues or who are overcoming health adversity. Like many herbs, epimedium has mild blood thinning properties; if you are taking prescription blood thinners, consult your healthcare provider before taking epimedium.

Vital Plan Products that contain Epimedium:

eVITALIZE™ – a blend of adaptogens for libido-support, stamina, energy, strength and resilience.

Ingredients similar to Epimedium:


*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your qualified healthcare provider before beginning any diet or program.

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about the author
Dr. Bill Rawls
Dr. Bill Rawls has practiced conventional medicine as a gynecologist for
over 20 years and is also the co-founder and medical director of Vital Plan, a wellness and herbal supplement company.