- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: yohimbe
Other Names: aphrodien, corynanthe yohimbi, corynine, johimbi, Pausinystalia yohimbe, quebrachine
Drug Class: Herbals
What is yohimbe, and what is it used for?
Yohimbe is an evergreen tree (Pausinystalia yohimbe) native to central and western Africa. Yohimbe bark has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac and to enhance sexual performance.
Yohimbe bark products are widely available as herbal supplements over the counter (OTC) in the U.S., promoted for male and female sexual dysfunction, athletic performance, weight loss, as an aphrodisiac, and many other purposes.
The active compound in yohimbe is yohimbine, an alkaloid that constitutes approximately 6% of the yohimbe bark. Yohimbine is available as a prescription drug in the U.S. to treat erectile dysfunction. Yohimbine works by blocking alpha-2 adrenergic receptors, protein molecules on nerve cells that are stimulated by norepinephrine. This results in increased blood flow into the penis and reduced outflow of blood, which helps maintain an erection. Yohimbe may not have the same effect as yohimbine, but it likely increases blood flow to the penis and vagina.
There is very little research on yohimbe as a dietary supplement and no scientific evidence to support any of its uses, except possibly for erectile dysfunction. The FDA has classified yohimbe as an unsafe herb containing the toxic alkaloid, yohimbine, and other alkaloids. The sale of yohimbe dietary supplements is restricted or banned in several countries because of inaccurate labeling and the potential for serious side effects.
- Do not take if you are hypersensitive to yohimbe or any of its components.
- Avoid taking yohimbe if you have any of the following conditions:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Coronary artery disease-associated chest pain (angina pectoris)
- Low or high blood pressure (hypotension/hypertension)
- Heart, liver, or kidney disease
- Diabetes mellitus
- Prostate inflammation
- Prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
- Do not take yohimbe concurrently with foods rich in the amino acid tyramine, such as liver, cheese, and red wine.
- Do not take yohimbe concurrently with:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a type of antidepressant drugs
- Drugs that enhance alpha-2 adrenergic receptor activity
What are the side effects of yohimbe?
Common side effects of yohimbe include:
- Cardiac conduction disturbances
- Cardiac failure
- High or low blood pressure (hypertension/hypotension)
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- Respiratory depression
- Gastric intolerance
- Fluid retention
- Urinary frequency
- Sinus inflammation (sinusitis)
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of Yohimbe?
There is insufficient scientific information to know what might be an appropriate dose of yohimbe. Numerous regimens are available, follow manufacturer’s recommendations.
- 15-30 mg orally daily
- Bark tincture: 5-10 drops orally three times daily
- Studies indicate that yohimbe overdose can cause stomach problems, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), anxiety, and high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Yohimbe is also associated with heart attacks and seizures.
- Overdose may be treated with symptomatic and supportive care.
What drugs interact with Yohimbe?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Yohimbe has no known severe interactions with other drugs.
- Yohimbe has serious interactions with at least 61 different drugs.
- Moderate interactions of yohimbe include:
- Mild interactions of yohimbe include:
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.
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Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Do not use yohimbe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is likely unsafe and may harm the fetus or the breastfed infant.
What else should I know about Yohimbe?
- It is best to avoid taking yohimbe, natural products are not necessarily safe.
- The FDA has classified yohimbe as an unsafe herb, containing the toxic alkaloid, yohimbine, and other alkaloids.
- Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement.
- If you do take OTC yohimbe:
- Follow manufacturer’s directions exactly
- Store safely out of reach of children
- Seek medical help or contact Poison Control in case of overdose
- Herbal supplements do not undergo rigorous evaluation by the FDA for safety and efficacy. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents.
- Yohimbe products contain varying amounts of yohimbine and some formulations may contain as much yohimbine as the prescription drug. A study that analyzed 49 supplements with yohimbe found that only three of them contained the amount of yohimbine advertised on the label.
Yohimbe bark products are herbal supplements promoted for male and female sexual dysfunction, athletic performance, weight loss, as an aphrodisiac, and many other purposes. Common side effects of yohimbe include cardiac conduction disturbances, cardiac failure, high or low blood pressure (hypertension/hypotension), rapid heart rate (tachycardia), anxiety, excitation, irritability, insomnia, headache, dizziness, tremor, paralysis, respiratory depression, and others. Yohimbe is also associated with heart attacks and seizures. Do not use yohimbe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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