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Yohimbe

Scientific Name(S): Pausinystalia yohimbe (K Schumann) Pierre. Synonymous with Corynanthe johimbe. Family: Rubiaceae. The alkaloid yohimbine also is obtained from Aspidosperma quebracho blanco and Rauwolfia serpentina.

Common Name(S):Yohimbe, yohimbehe, yohimbine

Yohimbe has been one of the most popular supplements for men and women for years. When ingested, the body converts it to yohimbine and assimilates it into the bloodstream. Yohimbine is a prescription drug in the United States for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Its popularity has waned since the introduction of Viagra.

Yohimbe bark extracts are also sold in health food stores and online. In Germany, it is not approved for use. Yohimbe can cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure, as well as anxiety and other side effects.

Botany

This tree grows throughout the African nations of Cameroon, Gabon, and Zaire.

Uses

Yohimbe has been investigated for the treatment of organic impotence, in particular those with diabetes, and for the use as aphrodisiacs. Yohimbe is used to help build muscle, improve sexual function, reduce anxiety, elevate mood, and prevent heart attacks. Because it stimulates the central nervous system, it has been used to treat narcolepsy and for weight loss.

Yohimbe has been promoted as a herbal remedy for depression, because it blocks an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. However, this is only found in higher doses (over 50 mg/day), which is potentially unsafe.

Side Effects

Yohimbe may be toxic if ingested in high amounts. It causes severe hypotension, abdominal distress, and weakness and may cause CNS stimulation and paralysis.

History

The bark of the West African yohimbe tree is rich in the alkaloid yohimbine, and both the crude bark and purified compound have long been hailed as aphrodisiacs. The bark has been smoked as a hallucinogen and has been used in traditional medicine to treat angina and hypertension. Today the drug is being investigated for the treatment of organic impotence.

Chemistry

The bark contains approximately 6% yohimbine (also known as aphrodine, quebrachine or corynine). Yohimbine is an indole analog. Other minor alkaloids include corynantheidine and allo-yohimbine.

Summary

Yohimbine is an alkaloid derived from the African yohimbe tree. Both the crude drug and purified alkaloid have been used as an aphrodisiac and hallucinogen. Recent studies suggest that the drug may be effective in the treatment of male organic impotence, in particular that associated with diabetes.


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