Yohimbe

View Slideshow Pictures

What other names is Yohimbe known by?

11-hydroxy Yohimbine, Alpha Yohimbine HCl, Coryanthe Yohimbe, Corynanthe Johimbe, Corynanthe johimbi, Corynanthe yohimbi, Johimbi, Pausinystalia yohimbe, Pausinystalia johimbe, Yohimbehe, Yohimbehe Cortex, Yohimbine, Yohimbine HCl, Yohimbinum Muriaticum.

What is Yohimbe?

Yohimbe is the name of an evergreen tree found in parts of central and western Africa. The bark of yohimbe contains a chemical called yohimbine, which is used to make medicine. Yohimbine hydrochloride (Aphrodyne, Yocon) is a form of yohimbine that is a prescription drug in the US.

Yohimbe supplements often list yohimbe bark extract or yohimbine as the active ingredient. However, some of these products might not provide accurate information about the amount of yohimbine in the supplement. Also, some yohimbe supplements list yohimbine hydrochloride as an active ingredient. Yohimbe products containing man-made yohimbine hydrochloride as an ingredient are not legal to sell as a dietary supplement in the US.

Yohimbe is taken by mouth to arouse sexual excitement, for erectile dysfunction (ED), sexual problems caused by medications for depression called selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and general sexual problems in both men and women. It is also used for athletic performance, weight loss, exhaustion, chest pain, high blood pressure, low blood pressure that occurs when standing up, diabetic nerve pain, and for depression along with certain other medications.

Yohimbe bark is also smoked or snuffed for its hallucinogenic effects.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Anxiety. There is mixed evidence about the effectiveness of yohimbine, the active ingredient in yohimbe, for treating anxiety related to phobias. Some research suggests that it does not improve anxiety when combined with exposure-based therapy used to reduce fear of flying. However, other research suggests that taking yohimbine along with exposure-based therapy helps treat claustrophobia better than exposure-based therapy alone. The effect of yohimbe bark on anxiety is not clear.
  • Depression. Early research suggests that taking yohimbine, the active ingredient of yohimbe, daily for 10 days does not improve depression symptoms. The effect of yohimbe bark on depression is not clear.
  • Dry mouth. Early research suggests that taking yohimbine, the active ingredient in yohimbe, improves symptoms of dry mouth in people taking antidepressants. The effect of yohimbe bark on dry mouth is not clear.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED). There is evidence that yohimbine, the active ingredient of yohimbe, can be helpful for ED. However, this benefit has not been described specifically for yohimbe bark.
  • Exercise performance. Early research suggests that taking yohimbine, the active ingredient in yohimbe, daily for 21 days does not improve exercise performance or build muscle mass in soccer players. The effect of yohimbe bark on exercise performance is not clear.
  • Head rush (orthostatic hypotension). Early research suggests that taking a single dose of yohimbine, the active ingredient in yohimbe, increases blood pressure in people with a head rush due to low blood pressure. However, other early research suggests that it does not improve blood pressure. The effect of yohimbe bark on head rush is not clear.
  • Sexual problems caused by selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). There is evidence from many studies that yohimbine, the active ingredient of yohimbe, can improve sexual problems associated with this class of medications used for depression. However, this benefit has not been described specifically for yohimbe bark.
  • Weight loss. Early research suggests that taking yohimbine, the active ingredient in yohimbe, daily for 8 weeks does not cause weight loss. The effect of yohimbe bark on weight loss is not clear.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate yohimbe for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Quick GuideVitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Vitamin D Deficiency: How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

How does Yohimbe work?

Yohimbe contains a chemical called yohimbine which can increase blood flow and nerve impulses to the penis or vagina. It also helps counteract the sexual side effects of certain medications used for depression.

Are there safety concerns?

Yohimbe, taken by mouth, is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Yohimbe has been linked to reports of severe side effects including irregular or rapid heart beat, kidney failure, seizure, heart attack, and others.

The primary active ingredient in yohimbe is a drug called yohimbine. This is considered a prescription drug in North America. This drug can be safely used short-term when monitored by a health professional. However, it is not appropriate for unsupervised use due to potentially serious side effects that it can cause.

Children should not take yohimbe. It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for children because children appear to be extra sensitive to the harmful effects of yohimbe.

When taken by mouth in typical doses, yohimbe and the ingredient yohimbine can cause stomach upset, excitation, tremor, sleep problems, anxiety or agitation, high blood pressure, a racing heartbeat, dizziness, stomach problems, drooling, sinus pain, irritability, headache, frequent urination, bloating, rash, nausea, and vomiting.

Taking high doses can also cause other severe problems, including difficulty breathing, paralysis, very low blood pressure, heart problems, and death. After taking a one-day dose of yohimbine, one person reported an allergic reaction involving fever; chills; listlessness; itchy, scaly skin; progressive kidney failure; and symptoms that looked like the auto-immune disease called lupus.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy or breast-feeding: Yohimbe is LIKELY UNSAFE. Yohimbe might affect the uterus and endanger the pregnancy. It might also poison the unborn child. Don't take yohimbe if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Chest pain or heart disease: Don't use yohimbe. Yohimbine can seriously harm the heart.

Anxiety: Don't use yohimbe. Yohimbine might make anxiety worse in people with panic disorder.

Prostate problems: Use yohimbe with caution. Yohimbe might make the symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) worse.

Bleeding conditions: Taking yohimbe might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Depression: Don't use yohimbe. Yohimbine might bring out manic-like symptoms in people with bipolar depression or suicidal tendencies in individuals with depression.

Diabetes: Don't use yohimbe. Yohimbe might interfere with insulin and other medications used for diabetes and cause low blood sugar.

High blood pressure or low blood pressure: Don't use yohimbe. Small amounts of yohimbine can increase blood pressure. Large amounts can cause dangerously low pressure.

Kidney disease: Don't use yohimbe. There is a concern that yohimbine might slow or stop the flow of urine.

Liver disease: Don't use yohimbe. Liver disease might change the way the body processes yohimbe.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Don't use yohimbe. There is a report that four individuals with PTSD suffered worse symptoms after using yohimbe.

Schizophrenia: Use yohimbe with caution. The yohimbine in yohimbe might make people with schizophrenia psychotic.

Surgery: Yohimbe might increase the risk for bleeding. People who take yohimbe should stop at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Sensitivity to yohimbine: Don't use yohimbine.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Medications for depression (MAOIs)
Interaction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Yohimbe contains a chemical that affects the body. This chemical is called yohimbine. Yohimbine might affect the body in some of the same ways as some medications for depression called MAOIs. Taking yohimbe along with MAOIs might increase the effects and side effects of yohimbe and MAOIs.

Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.



Clonidine (Catapres)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Clonidine (Catapres) is used to decrease blood pressure. Yohimbe might increase blood pressure. Taking yohimbe along with clonidine might decrease the effectiveness of clonidine.



Guanabenz (Wytensin)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Yohimbe contains a chemical called yohimbine. Yohimbine might increase blood pressure. Taking yohimbine along with guanabenz (Wytensin) might decrease the effectiveness of guanabenz.



Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) substrates)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Yohimbe might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking yohimbe along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking yohimbe talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), clozapine (Clozaril), codeine, desipramine (Norpramin), dextromethorphan, donepezil (Aricept), fentanyl (Duragesic), flecainide (Tambocor), fluoxetine (Prozac), meperidine (Demerol), methadone (Dolophine), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL), olanzapine (Zyprexa), ondansetron (Zofran), tramadol (Ultram), trazodone (Desyrel), and others.



Medications for depression (Tricyclic antidepressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Yohimbe can affect the heart. Some medications used for depression called tricyclic antidepressants can also affect the heart. Taking yohimbe along with these medications used for depression might cause heart problems. Don't take yohimbe if you are taking these medications for depression.

Some of these tricyclic antidepressants medications used for depression include amitriptyline (Elavil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others.



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Yohimbe seems to increase blood pressure. Taking yohimbe along with some medications for high blood pressure might decrease the effectiveness of medications for high blood pressure.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.



Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Yohimbe might slow blood clotting. Taking yohimbe along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.



Naloxone (Narcan)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Yohimbe contains a chemical that can affect the brain. This chemical is called yohimbine. Naloxone (Narcan) also affects the brain. Taking naloxone (Narcan) along with yohimbine might increase the chance of side effects such as anxiety, nervousness, trembling, and hot flashes.



Phenothiazines
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Yohimbe contains a chemical called yohimbine. Some medications called phenothiazines have some similar effects to yohimbine. Taking yohimbe along with phenothiazines might increase the effects and side effects of yohimbine.

Some phenothiazines include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Prolixin), trifluoperazine (Stelazine), thioridazine (Mellaril), and others.



Stimulant drugs
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. Yohimbe might also speed up the nervous system. Taking yohimbe along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with yohimbe.

Some stimulant drugs include diethylpropion (Tenuate), epinephrine, phentermine (Ionamin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and many others.

Dosing considerations for Yohimbe.

The appropriate dose of yohimbe depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for yohimbe. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors