What is it?
Yohimbe is a type of evergreen tree. Its bark is an ingredient in some medicinal teas and supplements. It’s traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, treatment for impotence, and endurance enhancer. It’s also a popular weight loss supplement.
Although there isn’t much scientific research on yohimbe, there’s some evidence that its active ingredient may help with certain health conditions. Keep reading to learn more.
Is yohimbe the same thing as yohimbine?
Yohimbe is the name of a dietary supplement. It’s also the word used to describe yohimbe bark or products made with yohimbe bark.
Yohimbine is an active compound found in yohimbe bark. It may have potent stimulant and physiological effects. It’s also thought to increase peripheral blood flow.
Natural yohimbine is in high-quality yohimbe supplements. However, it’s difficult to know the amount or whether it’s pure or highly processed. Yohimbine hydrochloride is a standardized form of yohimbine and the active ingredient in some prescription erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs. Unless yohimbine is labeled as “natural,” it’s likely yohimbine hydrochloride.
How are yohimbe and yohimbine used?
Much more research must be done on yohimbe supplements to prove their efficacy for most conditions. It’s unclear whether yohimbe supplementation offers the same benefits as prescription yohimbine hydrochloride. The studies referenced below were performed using yohimbine hydrochloride.
Here’s what they showed:
1. It may promote weight loss
The research around yohimbine for weight loss is mixed at best.
According to a 2006 study on 20 elite soccer players, yohimbine can significantly decrease body fat better than a placebo. The yohimbine dosage for the study was 20 milligrams (mg) daily in two equal doses for 21 days. No adverse side effects were reported in this study.
However, a 2015 study on rats showed yohimbine had a minor impact on fat loss. It improved lipid and cholesterol profiles. More research is needed to further clarify these results.
2. It may or may not help treat erectile dysfunction
According to 2014 research, a meta-analysis of seven clinical trials on yohimbine found the ingredient to be an effective treatment option for ED. This has led some manufacturers to include yohimbine in some prescription drugs for impotency.
Because of this, yohimbe supplements are marketed to treat ED. However, prescription yohimbine isn’t the same form of yohimbine found in yohimbe supplements. More research is needed to determine whether natural yohimbine can help treat ED.
3. It may increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medication
According to a 2014 study, yohimbine may help antidepressant drugs work better and faster. The study found that using an a2-antagonist with the specific selective serotonin reuptake agent (SSRI) medication fluoxetine brought on faster antidepressant activity than taking an SSRI alone.
Despite yohimbine being a potential stimulant, study participants experienced no increased anxiety or panic attacks. Some people experienced high blood pressure. Researchers cautioned that more study is needed before yohimbine can be considered a clinical treatment for depression.
4. It may or may not help boost athletic performance
Yohimbe supplements are often marketed as an easy way to take extreme fitness to the next level, but evidence to support this theory is only anecdotal.
No scientific studies have proven yohimbe can make you a better athlete. In fact, in a 2006 study on 20 elite soccer players, researchers didn’t observe any change in exercise performance markers, such as:
- power test
- bench and leg press
- vertical jump
Is there a recommended dose?
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate supplements, so there’s no standardized dose of yohimbe. Dosages vary by manufacturer and range from 450 mg to 2,000 mg. It’s difficult to know how much yohimbine is included or if the product is pure.
You should only buy yohimbe from manufacturers you trust, and you should talk to your doctor before use. They can advise you on your individual risks and recommend an appropriate dose.
Potential side effects and risks
Yohimbe may cause these side effects:
- rapid heart rate
- increased blood pressure
- nausea and vomiting
A study on calls made to California Poison Control between 2000 and 2006 found people who called about yohimbe were more likely to need medical help than people who called about other ingredients.
According to a brief published in Clinical Toxicology, yohimbe is gaining street cred as an aphrodisiac and mild hallucinogen. One bodybuilder experienced severe symptoms two hours after ingestion including rapid heartrate, loss of consciousness, and seizures.
Before using yohimbe, be sure to tell your doctor about any medications or herbal supplements you’re taking.
You shouldn’t use yohimbe if you have:
- blood pressure problems
- heart arrhythmias
- Parkinson’s disease
- thyroid problems
- kidney problems
- liver disease
Don’t take yohimbe with other stimulants, such as caffeine or nicotine. It also shouldn’t be taken with foods high in tyramine. Tyramine may have a stimulant effect in some people. It’s found in cured meats, fermented foods, and aged foods such as red wine, cheese, and sauerkraut.
Children, as well as pregnant, breastfeeding, or soon to be pregnant women shouldn’t use yohimbe.
The bottom line
Yohimbe is a dietary supplement with little scientific evidence to back up the hype surrounding it. Prescription yohimbine is a synthetic drug derived from the yohimbine in yohimbe bark. It may help erectile dysfunction. More research is needed to know for sure.
It’s difficult to determine the safety of all yohimbe or yohimbine products because they’re not well-studied. Most evidence of their effectiveness is anecdotal. There may be medications that are more effective and with fewer side effects. Have a conversation with your doctor.
Taking yohimbe supplements or prescription yohimbine may have serious side effects, especially if you have a medical condition, are sensitive to stimulants, or take prescription medications. It’s important to talk to your doctor before using yohimbe to weigh the risks and benefits.