Yohimbine is a supplement known for its ability to treat erectile dysfunction and help with weight loss. However, yohimbine also has multiple 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 used for longer than viagra [R].
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 [R].
- 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 [R].
Benefits and Uses of Yohimbine
1) Treats Erectile Dysfunction
Yohimbine increases sexual arousal, motivation, and ejaculation frequency in male rats [R].
A meta-analysis of 7 studies (RCT) found that yohimbine is effective for treating erectile dysfunction, compared to placebo [R].
A study (DB-RCT) in 82 patients with erectile dysfunction found that one month of yohimbine improved erections in 28 patients [R].
A combination of yohimbine and L-arginine was safe and effective for the treatment of mild to moderate erectile dysfunction in 40 male patients (DB-RCT) [R].
2) Promotes Fat Burning and Weight Loss
In lean and obese mice, yohimbine reduces appetite and food intake [R].
A study (DB-RCT) in 20 athletes showed that daily yohimbine supplementation reduced body fat levels from 9.3 to 7.1% [R].
3) Reduces Fear and Social Anxiety
Fear extinction is a form of therapy that helps get rid of the fear of certain objects, animals, or people [R].
4) Helps Treat Type 2 Diabetes
A study (DB-RCT) on 50 diabetic patients found that yohimbine increases insulin levels and helps treat diabetes [R].
5) May Improve Memory
A study (RCT) in 36 adults found that yohimbine improved long-term memory by increasing norepinephrine levels [R].
However, one study showed that yohimbine reduced working memory in rats [R].
6) May Improve Cognitive Performance
In 24 university students, yohimbine improved performance on a math task. However, the number of errors were increased [R].
7) Decreases Blood Clotting
8) May Help with Dry Mouth Syndrome
Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth syndrome, is caused by a decrease in the amount of saliva produced.
Yohimbine increased saliva secretion in dogs [R].
A study (DB-RCT) in 20 patients concluded that yohimbine increased saliva secretion [R].
Another study (DB-RCT) found that yohimbine increased salivary flow 3.5x [R].
9) Protects the Kidneys
Pretreatment with yohimbine reduced inflammation and improved kidney function in rats with kidney injuries [R].
10) May Help Treat Arthritis
In a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis, yohimbine reduced joint inflammation, increased antioxidant levels, and prevented joint damage [R].
11) May Reduce Pain
Yohimbine reduced pain in injured rats comparable to the pain medicine, morphine [R].
In one study (DB-RCT), yohimbine (.18 mg/lb) reduced pain in a finger pressure test in 24 subjects with chronic back pain. However, it only reduced pain in subjects with low blood pressure and did not affect pain in 32 healthy subjects [R].
12) May Help Treat Clonidine Overdose
Clonidine is a prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure, ADHD, anxiety disorders, and withdrawal symptoms (from alcohol, opioids, or smoking). An overdose can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea.
Yohimbine In Combination With Other Compounds
1) Helps Treat PCOS (With Naxolone)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur in women who have too high levels of androgens (male hormones).
Yohimbine combined with naloxone (a drug that treats opioid overdose) improved symptoms of PCOS in rabbits [R].
2) Prevents Organ Damage From Sepsis (With Berberine)
Sepsis is a condition in which tissues are harmed during the body’s response to infection.
Yohimbine and berberine reduced inflammatory messenger molecules (chemokines) and prevented immune cells (neutrophils) from harming multiple organs in mice with sepsis [R].
Risks and Side Effects
Even at the recommended dosage (5.4 mg 3x/day), yohimbine has multiple side effects. 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 [R].
Common side effects of yohimbine are:
- Stomach pain
- Allergic reactions
- Increased blood pressure (hypertension)
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Kidney failure
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 [R, R, R].
Yohimbine should not be taken with drugs that increase blood pressure and heart rate such as tricyclic antidepressants [R].
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 [R].
The amount of yohimbine ranged from 0 to 12.1 mg, much higher than the recommended dose of 5.4 mg [R].
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 [R].
For fat loss, up to 20 mg divided into 2 daily doses has shown to be effective [R].
It is recommended to supplement yohimbine before or with meals since it can cause insulin levels to significantly increase [R].
Studies looking at erectile dysfunction have used as much as 42 mg/day [R].
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.
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