Icarrin: An Aphrodisiac that Promotes Longevity – and Activates the Sirtuin 6 Gene

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by Nils Osmar. Updated March 24, 2022

Horny goat weed – also known as epimedium or yin yang huo – has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac and a treatment for erectile dysfunction.

According to legend, its name originanted when a goat herder in China noticed his flock became unusually sexually stimulated after eating the plant. The product has gone on to become an ingredient in many herbal remedies.

Icariin Activates Sirtuin 6 Gene

Yin yang huo is rich in a compound called icariin which activates the sirtuin 6 gene. The SIRT6 gene has been found to extend the lifespan in lab animals and to have other benefits.

In a recent study entitled Icariin Intervenes in Cardiac Inflammaging through Upregulation of SIRT6 Enzyme Activity and Inhibition of the NF-Kappa B Pathway, the authors stated::

We conclude that icariin (ICA) had a stimulatory effect on SIRT6 enzyme activity in vitro, even at very low concentrations. ICA can upregulate SIRT6 protein expression and downregulate NF-κB (p65) protein expression in murine heart tissues and in an aortic EC model.

ICA upregulated the expression of SIRT6 and had an inhibitory effect on NF-κB inflammatory signaling pathways by decreasing the mRNA levels of NF-κB downstream target genes TNF-α, ICAM-1, IL-2, and IL-6. Those effects were mediated directly or indirectly by SIRT6.

We have provided tentative evidence that inflammaging may involve a link between the effects of ICA on SIRT6 (a regulator of aging) and NF-κB (a regulator of inflammation).

Icariin Extends Lifespan in Mice

According to this study, Icariin has been found to extend the lifespan in lab animals. From the study:

We have previously reported that icariin extended the healthspan of invertebrate models. Here, we showed that long-term treatment with icariin starting at 12months of age extended healthspan and mean lifespan in C57BL/6 mice.

In all our assays associated with healthspan, such as behavioral tests and bone density analysis, we found that icariin boosted healthy features in mice… Our results indicated that icariin, a safe and widely used natural flavonol, extended healthspan and maintained genomic stability in a mammalian system.

Health Benefits for Women

While it’s primarily associated with being aphrodisiac for men, according to this article, “Women can benefit from taking yin yang huo… some chemicals in epimedium have been found to have estrogenic activity that may prevent bone loss. Consult a doctor before using this herb to treat a medical condition.”

Image by Olessya from Pixabay

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