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Learn How Yohimbe Can Benefit Your Health

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 5/9/2011

Yohimbe bark has been used for many years as an aphrodisiac. Learn about the benefits of yohimbe and know what side effects may occur, what precautions should be taken and what preparations are typical.

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    Yohimbe

    Yohimbe is an evergreen tree (Pausinystalia yohimbe) native to Nigeria, Cameroon and Congo. It slightly resembles the oak tree and grows about 100 feet tall. The bark, about 1/3 of an inch thick and the part used for medicinal purposes, is harvested during the rainy season (when its benefits are best) from May to September. Yohimbe bark has been used since ancient times, particularly among the Bantu people, as an aphrodisiac.

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    Health Benefits

    Chemical structure of Yohimbine Erectile Dysfunction

    Yohimbine, a substance in yohimbe bark, was isolated by a German chemist in the late 19th century. Today, yohimbine (and other ingredients) is used in a prescribed medication called Yohimbine hydrochloride, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction. Yohimbine is said to dilate blood vessels which helps a man achieve an erection. Multiple human trials have shown the drug to be effective but no studies have been done on the herb.

    Libido

    Yohimbine is believed to increase libido in females. More research is needed.

    Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

    The drug Yohimbine hydrochloride is thought to treat sexual dysfunction related to SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants. Research is limited.

    Other

    Yohimbine is also believed to improve orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure occurring when standing up), inhibit platelet aggregation and treat dry mouth caused by drugs like antidepressants.

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    Side Effects

    Yohimbe side effects include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, increased urination and insomnia.

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    Safety

    Large doses of yohimbe is highly toxic. There have been a number of reports in the United States of kidney failure and seizures following use.

    Prolonged use can be dangerous.

    Pregnant women should avoid taking yohimbe because it may possibly cause a miscarriage or birth defects.

    Women breastfeeding and children should avoid taking because it may cause anxiety disorders.

    People with blood pressure problems, depression or other psychiatric condition, kidney or liver disease, prostate problems, heart problems and Alzheimer's disease should avoid taking yohimbe because it may aggravate these conditions.

    People taking medications should speak with their healthcare provider before taking.

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    Typical Preparations

    The following are typical preparations when getting the benefits of yohimbe:

    Tincture

    The common dosage is 5-10 drops three times a day. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

    Tea

    Boil about 6 teaspoons of inner bark shavings in 1 pint of water for roughly 10 minutes, strain and sweeten.

    Do not take yohimbe with tyramine-rich foods, such as cured meats, aged cheeses and wine.

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    References

    Entheology: Yohimbe - http://www.entheology.org/edoto/anmviewer.asp?a=284&print=yes

    Medline Plus: Yohimbe bark extract (Pausinystalia yohimbe Pierre ex Beille Rubiaceae) - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-yohimbe.html

    GNC: Yohimbe - http://gnc.webmd.com/yohimbe

    Herbs 2000: Yohimbe - http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_yohimbe.htm

    Image courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yohimbine.png

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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.