Herba Epimedii (HEP) is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb used in treating Osteoporosis or Osteopenia.
First, the technical information: The Chinese call this herb, Yin yang huo. Its Latin name is, Epimedium sagittatum and its medical name is Herba Epimedii or HEP.
This herb has been used for centuries. Records date its use as early as to 400 A.D. (It was often used as a tonic to relieve fatigue and for the reproductive system. )
It is believed one of the effects of the herb is that modulates cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. As you know stress and its resulting production of cortisol is one of the
causes of bone loss.
(Some practitioners claim that it is a general increase of stress in the modern world as well as our changed diets that some of the main causes for increased numbers of persons diagnosed with Osteopenia and Osteoporosis in industrialized/electronic civilizations.)
Since stress (and its resultant raised cortisol) are also connected with fatigue and depression, it becomes be clear why this herb is often suggested as a health tonic ......as well as means to strengthen your bone density.
Western health care providers now recognize that the health care systems of China, India and Indigenous peoples are effective and often far less expensive and invasive than typical Western practices.
There has been a real effort on the part of both Western medical researchers and their Asian and Latin American counterparts to apply Western scientific methods to studying the efficacy of traditional practices.
1. 1996 study. As early as 1996 there was a study, "xperimental study on antagonizing action of this herb on side effects induced by glucocorticoids" by Wu T, Cui L, Zhang Z, Chen Z, Li Q, Liao J, Huang L. (Glucocorticoid medication is one of the causes of bone loss.)
The study concluded:
" that the water extract of Herba Epimedii (Epimedium sagittalum) works very well in preventing and curing the side effects induced by long-term use of glucocorticoids in rats, especially in antagonizing adrenocortical atrophy and osteoporosis."
2. Then in 2001 there was a study published from Liaoning, China that reviewed the herbs effects on cardiovascular, circulatory, immune, genital and bone marrow systems. The authors, Ye LC, Chen JM., concluded that "The results provided a rational foundation for the further development and utilization of Epimedium."
3. In 2002 an article "In
vitro study of the effects of Epimedium on osteoclastic bone resorption
in various oral mineralized tissues" was published. In this study Herba
Epimedii was shown to inhibt osteoclasts in their resorption of bone:
"Osteoclasts were taken from the bones of new born rabbits, cultured with de-activated human tooth slices and glass slices, and treated with different concentrations of Epimedium. Epimedium-treated cells showed shrinkage of cytosol and condensation of nuclei. Some treated cells showed breakage of nuclei. Epimedium can induce osteoclast apoptosis and inhibit bone resorption. The effect of Epimedium on bone resorption is dose-dependent."Special note:
The prevention of the resorption of bone is the same mechanism found in the bisphosphonates (Foxamax, Actonel etc.)
You will find scientific articles about this herb on the National Center for Biotechnology Information web site. Just enter Herba Epimedii in the search box.
Also you can read the full text of the osteoprotective effect of the herb extract in vivo and in vitro" at the Oxford Journals.org web site.