Yohimbine is a supplement known for its use to treat erectile dysfunction and help with weight loss. However, yohimbine also has multiple potential side effects and should be taken with caution. Read on to discover its health benefits and side effects.
What Is Yohimbine?
Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) is the name of an evergreen tree native to western and central Africa. The bark of the tree contains an active compound called yohimbine. Yohimbe bark was traditionally used as an aphrodisiac.
In the United States, yohimbine has been developed into a prescription drug for erectile dysfunction. In this form, it is more commonly known as yohimbine hydrochloride and has been widely used, especially before the development of viagra .
Yohimbine hydrochloride can also be found as an over-the-counter supplement.
- Yohimbine blocks alpha-1 and alpha-2 adrenoceptors, increasing adrenaline and dopamine and decreasing serotonin levels. Blocking these receptors also increases blood pressure, releases insulin, and decreases blood sugar levels .
- Yohimbine blocks serotonin-1B, -1D, -2A, and -2B (5-HT1B, 5-HT1D, 5-HT2A, and 5-HT2B) receptors, and dopamine-2 and dopamine-3 (D2 and D3) receptors .
Benefits and Uses of Yohimbine
Possibly Effective for:
1) Erectile Dysfunction
A meta-analysis of 7 studies found yohimbine effective for treating erectile dysfunction, compared to placebo .
A study in 82 patients with erectile dysfunction found that one month of yohimbine improved erections in 28 patients .
Although yohimbine is sometimes prescribed for erectile dysfunction, it has largely been replaced by safer, more effective drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Stendra.
Insufficient Evidence for:
1) Fat-Burning and Weight Loss
A study in 20 athletes showed that daily yohimbine supplementation reduced body fat levels from 9.3 to 7.1% .
In lean and obese mice, yohimbine reduced appetite and food intake .
Although promising, the evidence to support the use of yohimbine in weight loss comes from a few small clinical trials and a study in mice. Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed to confirm these preliminary results.
2) Fear and Social Anxiety
Fear extinction is a form of therapy that helps get rid of the fear of certain objects, animals, or people .
Again, the results are promising but insufficient to claim that yohimbine improves fear and social anxiety. Further clinical research is required.
3) Blood Clots
Among other functions, epinephrine controls blood clotting. Excessive blood clotting can lead to stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure .
Several clinical trials found that yohimbine reduces blood clotting by blocking alpha-2 adrenoceptors and converting epinephrine to norepinephrine. Because they were all small, their results cannot be considered conclusive until larger, more robust trials are conducted [20, 21, 22].
4) Type 2 Diabetes
In a study on 50 diabetic patients, yohimbine helped with blood sugar control by increasing insulin levels .
However, a single clinical trial and a study in rats cannot be considered conclusive evidence that yohimbine improves type 2 diabetes. More clinical trials on larger populations are needed.
A study in 36 adults found that yohimbine improved long-term memory by increasing norepinephrine levels .
However, one study showed that yohimbine reduced working memory in rats .
Again, the evidence to support this potential health benefit only comes from a small clinical trial. Further clinical research is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.
6) Dry Mouth Syndrome
Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth syndrome, is caused by a decrease in the amount of saliva produced.
A small study in 20 people found that yohimbine increased saliva secretion .
Another trial on 10 people with dry mouth caused by antidepressant drugs found that yohimbine increased salivary flow 3.5x .
Yohimbine also increased saliva secretion in dogs .
Yohimbine may help with dry mouth by increasing acetylcholine. This neurotransmitter increases saliva production and is controlled by alpha-2-adrenoceptors. People with xerostomia often suffer from a lack of acetylcholine [29, 27, 30].
Again, the results are promising but the evidence is based on too few studies to consider it conclusive. Further clinical research on larger populations is required to confirm them.
In one study, yohimbine (.18 mg/lb) reduced pain in a finger pressure test in 24 people with chronic back pain. However, it only reduced pain in those with low blood pressure and was ineffective in 32 healthy subjects .
Yohimbine reduced pain in injured rats comparable to the pain medicine morphine .
Additional, more robust clinical research is needed to shed some light on the effects of yohimbine on pain.
8) Cognitive Performance
In 24 university students, yohimbine improved performance on a math task. However, the number of errors was increased .
A single clinical trial with a small number of participants is clearly insufficient evidence to support the use of yohimbine as a cognitive enhancer. Further clinical research is required.
Animal Research (Lack of Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of yohimbine for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
Pretreatment with yohimbine reduced inflammation and improved kidney function in rats with kidney injuries .
In mice with rheumatoid arthritis, yohimbine reduced joint inflammation, increased antioxidant levels, and prevented joint damage .
Yohimbine in Combination with Other Compounds
1) With Naxolone PCOS (With Naxolonefor PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur in women who have excessive levels of androgens (male hormones).
Yohimbine combined with naloxone (a drug that treats opioid overdose) improved symptoms of PCOS in rabbits .
2) With Berberine Prevents Organ Damage From Sepsis (With Berberine for Sepsis)
Sepsis is a condition in which tissues are harmed during the body’s response to infection.
Although yohimbine supplements are commercially available, they have not been approved by the FDA for medical use due to the lack of solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for supplements but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing with yohimbine.
Precautions with Yohimbine Supplements
The amount of yohimbine in many products are unknown because they are often labeled incorrectly. A study on 49 yohimbine supplements found that only 2 provided accurate labeling and information .
The amount of yohimbine ranged from 0 to 12.1 mg, much higher than the recommended dose of 5.4 mg .
Of the products that listed inaccurate quantities, actual doses ranged from 23% to 147% of the stated amount.
Side effects are more common in herbal extracts of Yohimbe compared to prescription yohimbine products because prescription products undergo standard safety measures and have clearer dosing guidelines .
Because yohimbine is not approved by the FDA for any conditions, there is no official dose. Users and supplement manufacturers have established unofficial doses based on their experience.
Studies looking at erectile dysfunction have used as much as 42 mg/day .
For fat loss, up to 20 mg divided into 2 daily doses has shown to be effective in clinical trials .
Users recommend to supplement yohimbine before or with meals since it can cause insulin levels to significantly increase .
Risks and Side Effects
Even at the recommended dosage (5.4 mg 3x/day), multiple side effects have been reported. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe or mild, persisting adverse effects after taking yohimbine.
Common side effects of yohimbine are:
- Stomach pain
- Allergic reactions
- Increased blood pressure (hypertension)
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Kidney failure
Higher doses (200 – 5,000 mg) result in stronger side effects and can be toxic to the brain. Extremely high doses (above 5,000 mg) can be lethal .
Because yohimbine reduces clotting, it should be avoided by hemophiliacs and those who have recently undergone surgery. Blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin, and heparin should not be taken with yohimbine [20, 21, 22].
Yohimbine should not be taken with drugs that increase blood pressure and heart rate such as tricyclic antidepressants .
The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of yohimbine users, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfHacked. SelfHacked does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.
Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfHacked. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.
One user stated that 3 – 4 mg of yohimbine improved sexual performance, but resulted in anxiety attacks.
Another user reported excessive sweating and an increased heart rate of around 150 beats per minute approximately 2 hours after taking yohimbine.
Several users reported having negative experiences such as anxiety attacks and increased heart rate.
One user lost 17 lbs after taking yohimbine for two weeks, but experienced fever, difficulty sleeping, and a decrease in physical stamina.