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What is Yohimbe?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 17, 2024
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Yohimbe, more specifically the chemical yohimbine, purportedly cures sexual dysfunction such as low libido and impotence. We derive yohimbe, an herbal supplement, from the bark of an evergreen tree that grows in western Africa. The alternative medicine has actually been approved, in one specific form, by the FDA to be distributed by physicians treating erectile dysfunction. Other non-regulated forms are available as a vitamin compound.

For hundreds of years, people living in western Africa have ground up the bark of the trees Corynanthe yohimbe and Pausinystalie yohimbe. Both men and women ingested the mixed powder of yohimbe for increased sexual pleasure and endurance. Sometimes, higher doses were used in other capacities, such as spiritual rituals.

In modern times, the ancient herb has gained popularity as an imported powder, extract, or tincture. These mixtures have varying potency of the key ingredient yohimbine. The unregulated vitamin supplement sells over the counter to reportedly treat sexual dysfunction. It's recommended that you heat yohimbe in an acidic solution to release the active chemicals. Then the brew can be ingested a few hours before sexual activity.

Scientists have studied yohimbe and found that the alkaloid yohimbine indeed releases norepinephrine, a hormone that stimulates the sexual organs and increases blood flow in the genitals. In fact, manufactured pharmaceuticals also get the body to produce more norepinephrine in those suffering from impotency. Therefore, physicians can prescribe high potency doses of yohimbe extract. This treatment is unrelated to the purported aphrodisiac qualities of the herb, which means that it may increase one's sexual desire as well as functioning.

Like any supplement, one must be careful to avoid strong side effects, allergies, or other drug interactions by consulting with an experienced physician. Yohimbe should not be taken with most anti-depressants, decongestants, or heart medicine. It isn't recommended for those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, circulation problems, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. The herb dilates blood vessels and increases circulation and heart rate, so yohimbe can cause a fast heart beat, trembling, anxiety, vomiting, dizziness, and insomnia. Do not mix it with alcohol.

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