Yohimbe is an herbal remedy that is claimed to be useful as an aphrodisiac and for treating several health conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure, and various sexual problems. Studies have indicated that the active compound in it probably works for treating impotence and certain other sexual problems. However, more research is necessary to determine if yohimbe is effective for other uses.
What Is Yohimbe?
Yohimbe is an evergreen tree that is native to West Africa. The bark of the yohimbe plant is used as an herbal remedy. It is said to be useful as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for many different conditions, such as depression, high blood pressure (hypertension), and various sexual problems.
The active component of yohimbe bark seems to be a compound known as yohimbine. Yohimbine probably works in several different ways for treating problems associated with impotence, including both physical and psychological issues. It may increase blood flow to the penis and may help stimulate nerve impulses to the genitals. It is not clear how (or if) it works for other uses.
It has been suggested that yohimbine may work as an alpha-2 receptor blocker (which probably contributes to its effectiveness for impotence), as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), as a calcium channel blocker, and as a serotonin blocker.
Is Yohimbe Effective?
Studies indicate that yohimbine (the active compound in yohimbe) is probably effective at treating impotence. It may also be useful for treating sexual problems that are caused by certain antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs). However, all of the studies used yohimbine, not yohimbe, and it is not clear if this is equally effective at treating impotence. Nor is it known if yohimbe (or yohimbine) is effective for other uses.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed March 14, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: Yohimbe (February 2007). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/yohimbe/. Accessed March 14, 2008.
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Friesen K, Palatnick W, Tenenbein M. Benign course after massive ingestion of yohimbine. J Emerg Med 1993;11(3):287-8.
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