How Much Icariin Equals Viagra: A Guide for Natural Supplement Shoppers

How much icariin equals Viagra? Answering this involves knowing the facts about icariin and how it works as compared to how Viagra does. This article is written for those planning to try this fascinating flavonoid.

Although it is widely marketed as a natural alternative to popular erectile dysfunction drugs, icariin is not as extensively studied. With that, it may be said that the true extent of its potency, as well as its risks, are yet to be fully understood.

So, it is only appropriate that you gather as much information as possible before taking a single dose.

What Is Icariin?

Icariin is a naturally occurring substance that has been found to have phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibiting properties. It is extracted from the Epimedium plant (aka Yin Yang Huo or Horny Goat Weed), which is often used in traditional Chinese medicine.

It’s mostly taken as an aphrodisiac and erectile drug, but some studies suggest that it can have other uses as a nerve repairer, mood enhancer, and more.

This ingredient can be obtained as a supplement sold by health stores or online shops. The dosages may vary from 500 to 1000 mg, depending on the brand. Instructions for intake and dosing may differ as well.

What Is PDE5 Inhibition?

PDE5 is a biological chemical that destroys cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)—another substance that is responsible for causing erections. PDE5 inhibition prevents the destruction of cGMP from initiating and sustaining an erection.

Drugs and supplements that target PDE5 are called PDE5 inhibitors. Icariin may be considered as a PDE5 inhibitor like Viagra and other medications like it.

Is Icariin Effective?

Horny Goat Weed is a promising natural alternative to erectile dysfunction medication. In one study, herbs that are commonly used to treat male impotence were tested for their effectiveness.

Among Ferula hermonis (Zallouh or Lebanese Viagra), Tribulus Terrestris (Goat’s Head, Devil’s Eyelashes, or Puncturevine), Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese Cinnamon or Chinese Cassia), and Epimedium brevicornum (Horny Goat Weed), only Epimedium revicornum and its potent ingredient icariin were seen to be chemically active (1).

In another study done in vitro (in a culture dish), icariin was applied to cavernous smooth muscle cells to investigate its PDE5 inhibiting capability.

It was discovered that icariin inhibited all three forms of PDE5 at a level three times more than Zaprinast (a PDE inhibitor drug that failed testing). It was also able to enhance the cGMP level of the cells (2). Since cGMP causes smooth muscle relaxation, which supports blood inflow, it may also cause an erection.

What Is IC50?

The IC50 or half-maximal inhibitory concentration measures a drug’s effectiveness in inhibiting a particular biochemical or biological function. More specifically, it indicates how much of the ingredient is required to inhibit a biological process by half. The smaller the IC50, the more potent the medication.

How Much Icariin Equals Viagra

From the study discussed above, it was seen that icariin has an IC50 of 5.9 μM. In comparison, sildenafil (Viagra) has an IC50 of 74 nM. Since one μM (micromolar) is equal to 1000 nM (nanomolar), it means that it takes 590 nM of icariin to accomplish what 74 nM of sildenafil can do.

However, in the same study, chemically altering the icariin brought its IC50 to 75 nM. In conclusion, icariin in its natural state is not as potent as sildenafil, but its strength can be improved through artificial means.

In a sildenafil-specific pharmacological study, however, it was mentioned that the IC50 of the drug is at 3.5 nM (3).

In an icariin experiment, the substance inhibited PDE5A1, PDE5A2, and PDE5A3 at IC50 values of 1.0 μM, 0.75 μM, and 1.1 μM, respectively (4). As you can see, IC50 values vary among different studies.

This implies that it can be quite hard to determine precisely how much icariin is necessary to achieve the effects of sildenafil at a standard dose.

Some Precautions When Using Icariin

In a 2019 analysis of popular erectile dysfunction supplements, Horny Goat Weed along with Ginseng, L-arginine, and Tongkat was pinpointed to be the most popular among 21 ingredients. The study involved getting feedback from actual supplement users.

It has concluded that the studies evaluating the efficacy of erectile dysfunction supplements are inconclusive since they don’t provide ample information on things like improvement of erection strength, ability to sustain an erection, an increase of sexual satisfaction, and increased enjoyment of intercourse.

It recommends that those planning to use the supplements to seek counseling (5).

Aside from its erection-inducing effect, icariin is said to have other effects on reproductive function. For instance, in an experimental study done with male rats, it was discovered that specific doses of icariin might enhance testosterone production and increase sperm count.

However, excessive doses may lead to tissue and organ damage, which ultimately affects reproductive function (6).

Still, another potential benefit of icariin is said to be its neurotrophic (nerve repairing) effect. Rat penile tissue treated with icariin had longer nervous tissue compared to those in untreated tissue. Despite this promising discovery, more studies are still needed to determine whether it can be safely used to treat human nerve injuries (7).

Icariin to Viagra: A Matter of Equivalence

Icariin is just one of the many alternatives to popular erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra.

Some say that herbal medicine such as Horny Goat Weed has been used for a long time, so it just means that they are also effective and safe.

However, you must consider that supplements are not as strictly regulated as pharmaceutical drugs, so taking them involves some risk. Always remember that natural does not always mean safe since the ingredients in herbs may still cause unwanted effects.

These are some steps to take if you are interested in taking icariin:

  • Gather feedback from previous users.
  • Collect more data from studies about icariin.
  • Talk with your doctor and ask whether icariin is safe for you.

The ultimate answer to how much icariin equals Viagra will depend on how the former is prepared. Because of this, you must obtain it from trustworthy sources and take it as prescribed by the manufacturer. If you have any other questions about icariin, leave them in the comments.

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