Natural Health Benefits of Yohimbe (check the Evidence rating *)
*** Good Evidence of a health benefit.
** Some Evidence of a health benefit.
* Traditionally used with only anecdotal evidence.
Erectile Dysfunction ***
Mild depression **
Yohimbe has been used in Africa as a medicine since ancient times. Yohimbe bark was used in western Africa for fevers, leprosy, and coughs.
Traditionally it has also been used for heart disease, to dilate pupils, and as a local anesthetic.
In recent times it has been found to be effective for Erectile dysfunction and mild depression.
Yohimbe contains an alkaloid known as yohimbine. It is thought to be the primary active constituent in yohimbe, although similar alkaloids may also play a role in its actions.
The main action of Yohimbine is that it blocks alpha-2 adrenergic receptors, part of the sympathetic nervous system. Its action on the sympathetic nervous system causes dilation of blood vessels, which correlates to its use in erectile dysfunction.
Yohimbine also inhibits monoamine oxidase (MAO) and therefore may be of benefit in depressive disorders.
Yohimbe does have possible side effects and should only be used under a doctors supervision.
Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, increased blood pressure, and rapid heart beat, although all of these are rare.
Yohimbe is not recommended for breast-feeding women, during pregnancy or for patients with kidney disease and peptic ulcers.
A dose of more than 40 mg of yohimbine per day can cause dangerous side effects, including loss of muscle function, chills, and vertigo.
Some people can experience hallucinations, hypertension, palpitations, and anxiety when taking higher amounts of yohimbine.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder should avoid yohimbe as it may worsen their condition.
Herb – Food Interactions
Foods with high amounts of tyramine (eg. cheese, red wine) should not be eaten while a person is taking yohimbe, the combination may theoretically cause severe high blood pressure and other problems.
Herb – Drug Interactions
Yohimbe should only be combined with other antidepressant drugs under the supervision of a doctor.
Bupropion - Supportive Interaction. In an isolated case, a woman who was unresponsive to traditional antidepressant therapy was reported to have improvement in symptoms when yohimbine was added to her bupropion therapy. Further research is needed to determine the significance of this finding.
Fluvoxamine - Supportive Interaction. One report studied depressed people who had not responded to fluvoxamine. When 5 mg of yohimbine was added three times each day, there was significant improvement. Some people required higher amounts of yohimbine before their depression improved.
Brimonidine – Adverse reaction Brimonidine is a medication applied topically to the eyes to treat glaucoma. Yohimbine's active ingredients can block the actions of brimonidine in certain human tissues, thus reducing the drug’s beneficial effects. Adequate human studies involving the eye are lacking, and until more information is available, yohimbine should be avoided in people using brimonidine.
Where does Yohimbe come from and what parts are used?
Yohimbe grows in southwestern Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, and the Congo.
It is a tall evergreen forest tree from which the bark is used for medicinal purposes.
There are concerns that the tree is becoming endangered due to over-harvesting for use as medicine.
How much is usually taken?
Yohimbine should be used under the supervision of a doctor.
A normal safe daily dose of yohimbine from any product is 15–30 mg.
Traditionally a tincture of the bark, 5–10 drops three times per day, has been used.
(Zaakirah Rossier, Health24, updated October 2010)