Evaluation of medicinal value of Epimedium elatum on the basis of pharmacologically active constituents, Icariin and Icariside-II

Pak J Pharm Sci. 2015 Sep;28(5):1665-9.


Epimedium L. is well known medicinal genus of Chinese pharmacopoeia. Various species are ethno-botanically used against diseases of eye and kidney, impotence, asthma, arthritis and hypertension; besides being used as analeptic, expectorant, antibacterial, hypoglycemic, vasodilator and refrigerant. Recent studies have attributed most of these medicinal properties to its flavonoid glycosides, especially Icariin which is the major pharmacologically active constituent. Icariin has been found to possess effective aphrodisiac, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, vasodilatory, antidepressant and anti-osteoporosis activities. Icariside-II, another active constituent, has cytotoxic and cytostatic effects on 6 cancer cell-lines, and immunosuppressive effects on allograft rejection. In this present study, Epimedium elatum Morr. and Decne., the only species of this genus growing in Indian subcontinent, has been investigated for its medicinal value by determining the content of pharmacologically active constituents, Icariin and Icariside-II, by HPLC method. HPLC analysis of alcohol extract of its shade dried parts was performed with reverse phase C-18 column. The mobile phase for Icariin was acetonitrile-water in gradient mode; while for Icariside-II, it was methanol-water. The effluent was monitored at 270 nm. The results have revealed an appreciable content of Icariin and Icariside-II in its aerial and underground parts; the content being higher in populations growing at higher altitudes. The substantial presence of pharmacologically active constituents, Icariin and Icariside-II, in this species of Epimedium, signifies its value as a medicinal plant.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Epimedium / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / analysis*


  • Flavonoids
  • baohuoside I
  • icariin