Epimedium (Herba Epimedii; Yin Yang Huo)


TCM Herbal Story


Epimedium (Herba Epimedii; Yin Yang Huo)



According to legend, Tao Hong Jing was a famous physician in the Southern and Northern Dynasties who dedicated himself in the study of Chinese medicine.  One day, he overheard an old shepherd describing an odd plant with leaves resembling that of apricot and can grow as tall as 1 to 2 feet.  The old shepherd also mentioned that the sexual ability of the male goat increased drastically after eating this plant, as well as their mating frequency.


With this information, Tao believed that this plant is highly likely to be a new medicine to invigorate the kidney.  After repeated testing and verification, it was evident that this plant is quite phenomenal for its ability to boost sexual functions.  Therefore, Tao included this herb into the pharmacopoeia and named it “Yin Yang Huo”, or “Horny Goat” for literal translation.



Epimedium is the aerial parts of Epimedium grandiflorum Morr., E. sagittatum (Sieb. Et Zucc.) Maxim., or E. brevicornum Maxim. Its properties are acrid, sweet, and warm. It enters through the kidney and liver.


Actions & Indications:

  • Tonifies the Kidneys and fortifies the Yang
  • Expels wind-damp-cold
  • Tonifies the Yin and Yang and harnesses ascendant Liver Yang

Caution & Contradiction

  • Contraindicated in patients with fire from Yin deficiency
  • This herb should not be taken as a decoction over prolonged periods.
  • This herb can damage the Yin. In some people, ingesting it can lead to dizziness, vomiting, dry mouth, thirst, and nosebleed.


The original article is from Brion Research Institute, translated by Sun Ten Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

For Chinese/original version, please go to:


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