Chinese Tonics – Legend of Horny Goat Weed

Once there was a goat-herd in ancient China who noticed that several of his billy-goats were especially randy, often mounting their mates many times in a brief span of time. Curious about, and perhaps a bit envious of, their amorous behavior, the goat-herd observed the horny animals carefully for a few weeks. He noted that whenever they ate from a certain patch of weeds, their promiscuous proclivities became pronounced for several hours thereafter. One thing led to another, and before long Chinese herbalists discovered Epimedium sagittatum, one of the strongest herbs for male potency in the entire ben cao. They called it yin yang huo—”horny goat weed“.

Horny Goat Weed

This remarkable herb seemed custom-made by nature for the flagging male libido. Its strong, stimulating affinity for the supra renal glands—’kidney-glands” in Chinese —promote increased secretions of male hormones almost immediately. Recent research has shown that sperm count and semen density increase substantially during the first few hours after ingestion of this herb. In addition, it expands the minutest capillaries as well as the major vessels of the circulatory system, permitting hormone-enriched blood to penetrate the body’s finest, most sensitive tissues. Improved circulation of fortified blood eliminates fatigue and multiplies available energy. Expansion of blood vessels induces a proportionate decrease in blood pressure, making the herb safe for those who need it most. And by flooding the brain with hormone-rich blood, sensitivity to tactile, visual, olfactory, and other forms of nervous stimulation is greatly amplified as well.

Tonics are the most interesting — and by far the most expensive — items in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. They are directly linked to longevity because of their proven power to promote vital-hormone production — the “vital-essence” of Chinese medical argot. The use of tonic herbs which increase sexual vitality combined with the practice of sexual techniques which preserve the vital-essence is an original and very old method of yang sheng, “nurturing-life”. Only in recent decades has Western medical science discovered the fundamental connection between hormone production and the aging process.

Taoist Practice of Yang Sen

Yang Sen

The role of tonics in Chinese herbal medicine is best illustrated by the modern example of Yang Sen, the vigorous general from Sichuan who died in Taipei only a few years ago. He attained the ripe old age of 98, only three years short of the 101-year life-span of the great Sun Simiao, whose Taoist theories he practiced.

Yang Sen had always been interested in herbal medicines in his native Sichuan, where the best Chinese herbs grow. While still a young man, he began using tonics and other preventive herbs. He was known as a fierce fighter, an insatiable lover, and a man with a great zest for life. By the time he and his entourage arrived in Taiwan in 1949, he already had numerous wives and concubines and countless children to his name.

After retiring from military duty, Yang Sen became active in sports and physical education. He served as director of the Taiwan Sports Federation as well as the Taiwan Mountain Climbing Association. In the latter role, he led an annual climb to the 12,000-feet peak of Jade Mountain, the highest in Taiwan, and invariably left most of his much younger climbing companions panting and puzzled far down the trail. He continued this practice right to the year of his death. In fact, he had planned to celebrate his 100th birth- day on the peak of Jade Mountain.

Why did Yang Sen possess more vigor than men half his age? He followed the Taoist “Way of Long-Life”, including the sexual “Way of Yin and Yang”. He used medicine- wine tonics to nurture his vital-energy and vital-essence and followed a strict regimen of physical exercise, always early to bed and early to rise. His foods were as carefully selected for potency and energy as were his herbs. And he cultivated the Way of Yin and Yang: he engaged in frequent and vigorous sexual intercourse with infrequent emission of semen, constantly building up and storing vital- essence. An extremely wealthy man, Yang Sen could well afford’ the expensive tonic herbs he favored in and the young mistresses he kept. Every three to five years he sought out a new partner, offering generous terms and stating only two requirements —that she be young and healthy and that she practice the Way of Yin and Yang with him for a few years. In this way he remained physically, mentally, and sexually vigorous throughout ninety-eight very full years of life. At last count, he had over forty acknowledged sons living in the United States, not to mention the uncounted scores left behind on the mainland and still living in Taiwan.

The man is a legend in Taiwan, but his story is by no means unusual in the context of Taoist traditions. Though he used tonic herbs most of his life, in interviews he always attributed his health and vitality to rigorous regimens of exercise, careful diet, and proper personal habits. True enough: tonic herbs alone can- not guarantee health and longevity. But equally true is the fact that without the tonic medicine-wines he imbibed each night before retiring, he could never have practiced and benefited from the Way of Yin and Yang and his other healthy Taoist regimens to the advanced age of 98.

Animal Derived Tonics

Animal-derived medications are prominent among the tonics. Such exotic items as rhinoceros horn, stag horn, the dried genitalia of male sea-lions and seals, the tails of red- spotted lizards, dried sea-horses, gum of tortoise shell and wild donkey hide are all tonics. The reason for their potency is simple: these items contain elements which promote the production of vital- essence. Many of them, such as dried male genitalia and horns, actually contain high concentrations of male hormones because they are the distinguishing male characteristics of the species, and these develop only in the presence of male hormones. Animal-derived tonics are also rich in vital protein substances such as albumins, gelatins, and amino acids. In addition, they contain enzymes, minerals, and trace elements. They have natural affinity for the kidneys and related glands and have a general stimulating effect on the body’s vital primordial energies.

Plant Derived Tonics

Chinese Wolf Berry – Commonly Known as Goji Berry

Plant-derived items still comprise the majority of tonic herbs. They are considered safer and gentler in action than animal products, and they form the bulk of most tonic prescriptions. Among the most effective tonic herbs 56 are Chinese wolf-berry, Astragalus membranaceus, Selincum monnieri, Ligustrum japonicum, red Korean ginseng, and of course the potent Horny Goat Weed. A favored method of preparing Spring-Wine is to first steep a batch of Horny Goat Weed in the liquor for three to six months, then remove the depleted herb, add all the rest of the tonic ingredients, and steep it for another half year or so before use. When this type of Spring-Wine is imbibed, the Horny Gloat Weed first clears the path by dilating all the blood vessels: this permits maximum circulation and distribution of all the other ingredients carried in the wine. Two vital discoveries revealed the connections among sex, longevity, and tonics: Vital-essence (semen and hormones) which promotes vitality and retards aging; and vital-essence which can be nurtured with certain herbs found in nature and preserved by practicing the Way of Yin and Yang.

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