Icariin is a flavonoid glycoside compound that is thought to be the primary active component of extracts from plants in the Epimedium family. These extracts are reputed to produce aphrodisiac effects and are commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine to enhance erectile function and for other indications. Icariin has been demonstrated to act as a PDE5 inhibitor and to enhance the production of bioactive nitric oxide.
Additionally, icariin can stimulate osteoblast activity in bone tissue and increase the number of kidney patients in T cells. Icariin can also affect different aspects of aging mechanisms, such as the impact of cell passage, extending the growth period, regulating of the immune and endocrine system, improving metabolism and organ function. Finally, icariin has a protective effect on vasopressin induced myocardial ischemia.