Yohimbe

Scientific names: Pausinystalia yohimbe, snonymous with Corynanthe johimbe

Common names: Yohimbe also is known as yohimbehe, and yohimbine. This tree grows throughout the African nations of Cameroon, Gabon, and Zaire. The alkaloid yohimbine also is obtained from Aspidosperma quebracho blanco and Rauwolfia serpentina.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Moderate to serious danger.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

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

Erectile dysfunction

Today, yohimbe is being investigated for the treatment of organic impotence, in particular patients with diabetes, and for use as an aphrodisiac. Yohimbe can cause dilation of peripheral blood vessels along with central nervous system stimulation. Therefore, the drug has been investigated for erectile dysfunction. Clinical studies do suggest that yohimbe may be effective in the treatment of male organic impotence.

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One older prescription product (Afrodex, Bentex Pharmaceuticals) combined 5 mg each of yohimbine HCl, methyltestosterone, and nux vomica in a capsule for the treatment of male climacteric and impotence. Although a number of clinical trials were conducted with this product, the results generally were unimpressive. More recent investigations now strongly suggest that higher doses of the drug (6 mg three times a day) may be effective in the treatment of organically impotent men. A meta-analysis of clinical studies found yohimbe superior to placebo. All studies evaluated found a positive response to yohimbe and few side effects were reported.

Other uses

Yohimbe may help prevent syncope (fainting), as suggested in clinical studies.

What is the recommended dosage?

Refer to manufacturer's recommendations.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

This drug should not be used in the presence of renal or hepatic disease.

Pregnancy/nursing

Do not use during pregnancy and nursing.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

This drug may cause severe hypotension, hypertension, abdominal distress, and weakness.

Toxicities

Yohimbe may cause central nervous system stimulation and paralysis, and may precipitate psychoses in predisposed individuals.

References

  1. Yohimbe. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2004. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 23, 2007.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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