Traditional Chinese Medicine Shows Icariin Has High Osteogenic Properties, But What About Chondrogenic?

Traditional Chinese Medicine Shows Icariin Has High Osteogenic Properties, But What About Chondrogenic?

The compound Icariin has a sort of mythical claim made about it. I first became aware of Icariin from a poster on the website very early on. This person, who I no longer remember his name mentioned two compounds, Methylprotodiosciin and Dimethyl Icariin. I did not know what these two compounds were, but eventually got around to looking at the facts and background on the compounds. It turns out that some Turkish guy named Alkoclar had claimed that these two compounds would help people with fully closed growth plates grow taller on the old, now dead This claim was believed by so many people who frequented the forum, but I have never been able to figure out why so many people believed him.

Alkoclar’s claim was that he was a supplier and/or distributor of the chemical compound. It is supposed to have its originals in Traditional Chinese Medicine. (One of the few really long posts I did early in the website’s development was “Researching Methylprotodioscin From A Crazy Tip Leads To Alkoclar And Myostatin Inhibitors, I’m Turning Into A Detective (Breakthrough!)“. It shows how I managed to figure out who this Alkoclar guy was.) That seemed to have been proven correct actually, at least partially!

There is new evidence that shows that this compound does have some profound osteogenic properties. In the TCM textbook “Evidence and Rational Based Research on Chinese Drugs” by the authors By Hildebert Wagner, Gudrun Ulrich-Merzenich, on page 415, it was shown that Icariin (it is spelled with two consecutive “i”s) had been used for a long time as an osteogenic herbal plant.


What we find is that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, to help treat Chinese Women in ancient China of osteoporosis, the herbalist/pharmacist prescribed plants or oral chemical compounds which had icariin as the active ingredient. We suspect that Traditional Korean Medicine, did the same thing. The way that this compound works is that it has an inhibitory effect on the production of osteoclasts, which are the type of bone cells which eat up the ECM of the bone structure, making the overall bone mineral density (BMD) decrease.

There was a 4th compound mentioned called Cimicifuga racemosa (CR BNO 1055) which seemed to have cartilage structure beneficial effects. The study “Cimicifuga racemosa and its triterpene-saponins prevent the Metabolic Syndrome and deterioration of cartilage in the knee joint of ovariectomized rats by similar mechanisms.” seems to show that CR BNO 1055 does have inhibitory abilities on articular cartilage degeneration though.

(On a side note, East Asian women as a race/ethnic group have been shown to be the most prevalent of all groups/races to develop osteoporosis.)

There would be two other chemical compounds mentioned, Diadzein and Genistein. I remember that the Brazilian researcher Mateus (or is it Matheus??) had referenced Genistein is a possible compound to be used in his hypothetical proposal on how to regenerate growth plates. Of course, we have not heard from him in over a year. I would guess that his claims to figuring it all out never worked out.

At this point, I don’t believe it will ever be possible to find any type of oral chemical concoction to regrow growth plates. Tim and/or Joey, whoever is the admin for the website and who has been writing/contributing to the old website/forum The Impartial Height Increase Forum has been trying for at least 13 years to figure out some type formulation or chemical compound to help adults with mature bones to grow taller, and he still hasn’t found anything yet. I am betting that if there was a compound, it would be probably a million/billion nano-bots in a bio-degradable polymer coating which have some type of embedded chip inside which lets them swim to the local region of a body area to sent a certain type of electro-mechanical stimuli to get the bone cells to to go through transdifferentiation and/or go into a completely different type of gene expression. Of course, that will be for a post in the future. We are talking about completely science fiction medical technology at that point.

Getting back to the point…

I have never heard of Daidzen, but a quick google search brought up the study “Effects of soy phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein on breast cancer growth.” The fact that Daidzein and Genistein are both a type of phytoestrogen found from soy products is enough for me to already profile these compounds. I am just going to assume that Genistein and Diadzein are just another type of osteogenic compound which has breast cancer tumor increasing properties, and nothing more.

However, what about the icariin? Was the claim by Alkoclar right also about the chondrogenic abilities?

The study Icariin: a potential promoting compound for cartilage tissue engineering suggested that there might be some potential to the icariin.

It turns that that in Traditional East Asian Medicine (based on Korea, China, and Japan) herbalists knew of a plant called Herb Epimedium (HEP). The herb is also known as Horny Goat Weed. (Refer to the WebMD article on it here) The active ingredient of the plant/herb is the Icariin.

Tyler wrote about the possibility of taking Horny Goat Weed to increase height about 2 years ago in the post “Grow Taller With Horny Goat Weed?“. He noted that the Icarrin seems to increase BMP-2 mRNA expression but accelerates bone maturity. It also had the negative effect of inhibiting chondrocyte proliferation but does increase glycoaminoglycan production like crazy.

The other effects I will quote from his words “It’s possible that Icariin promotes the induction of Sox9 itself which would make it a very promising chondroinductive supplement but even if Icariin only enhances Sox9, COL2A1, and Aggrecan it may still help increase height in existing growth plates or help induce new growth plates with LSJL

To answer the original question, Icariin seems to indeed have chondrogenic properties. It increases Collagen Type-II, Aggrecan and gene expresses SOX-9, BMP2, and other chondrogenic growth related proteins. Other researchers have claimed also the following “Icariin could regulate the anabolism of osteoblasts through the up-regulation of BMP-4, BMP-2 and SMAD4 expression“.

Other studies we want to reference include…


From doing a very extensive analysis on the study Icariin: a potential promoting compound for cartilage tissue engineering I would be willing to put money down to say that we should be taking a chondroprotective/chondro-enhancing stack, which should include horny goat weed. Glucosamine Sulphate, with Omega-3 and MK-7 will still be there, but Horny Goat Weed will give additional benefit of increasing the Col-II, aggrecan, and GAG levels, which will be beneficial for the cartilage extracellular matrix. It is available from Amazon here

When you make the purchase, make sure that Icariin is one of the ingredients in the supplement, if not the main ingredient.

{Tyler-Found this study on Icariin:

Icariin attenuates glucocorticoid-induced bone deteriorations, hypocalcemia and hypercalciuria in mice.

“The biomarkers in serum and urine were measured, tibias were taken for the measurement on bone calcium, gene expression, histomorphology and micro-CT.

Glucocorticoid-treated facilitated to induce hypocalcemia and hypercalciuria in mice, and icariin-treated showed a greater increase in serum calcium and decrease in urine calcium. Icariin reversed DXM-induced trabecular deleterious effects and stimulated bone remodeling, including an increase in bone calcium, OCN and FGF-23 and a decrease in a critical bone resorption markers CTX and TRAP-5b. H&E staining and micro-CT showed the increased disconnections and separation among growth plate and trabecular bone network as well as the reduction of trabecular bone mass of primary and secondary spongiosa throughout the proximal metaphysis of tibia in DXM group. Importantly, icariin reversed DXM-induced trabecular deleterious effects and stimulated bone remodeling. Moreover, the results showed that the mRNA expression of MMP-9 and CAII{catalyzes reversible hydration of carbon dyoxide} was significantly increased in DXM group compared with control group. Icariin treatment could suppress the expression of MMP-9 and CAII in the tibia of mice.

The present study demonstrated the protective effects of icariin against bone deteriorations, hypocalcemia and hypercalciuria in experimentally DIOP mice. Furthermore, these results provided further evidence to support the dual role of icariin as a bone formation enhancer and bone resorption inhibitor.”

“glucocorticoids can induce osteoblasts and osteocyte apoptosis.
Bone mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) proliferation, osteogenic differentiation, and reactive activity to an osteogenic inductor are reduced in GIOP[Glutocorticoid osteoperosis] rats”

“antiosteoporotic activity of icariin in ovariectomized rats has no obvious difference
with estrogen”<-But maybe it can act as an estrogen substitute?  Performing the beneficial effects of estrogen and inhibiting the negative ones by taking estrogens place.

Unfortunately there was no Icariin only group but Icariin could potentially affect height by increasing MSC proliferation.

4 thoughts on “Traditional Chinese Medicine Shows Icariin Has High Osteogenic Properties, But What About Chondrogenic?

  1. Me

    So you wouldn’t recommend Icariin for people with open growth plates?
    Why’s that? Is it due to estrogen properities or is it more complicated?
    I’d really appreciate your explanation, so I’ll keep check the replies.
    Thanks in advance!


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