Yohimbine is derived from the bark of the yohimbe tree, an evergreen native to West Africa. Yohimbe bark has been eaten, sniffed, smoked, rubbed on the body, and made into a tea, all because of its powerful aphrodisiacal properties. Researchers discovered that the active ingredient in yohimbe is yohimbine hydrochloride, a crystalline alkaloid. Although it is possible to buy yohimbe bark, it is safer to use yohimbine hydrochloride. The amount of yohimbine contained in the yohimbe bark could vary, making it impossible to prescribe an accurate dose. For this reason, the FDA considers yohimbe (but not yohimbine hydrochloride) unsafe. It is yohimbine hydrochloride that is used in clinical studies and in drugs.
In fact, yohimbine hydrochloride is the only FDA-approved herbal substance for treating certain types of male impotence. Yohimbine works by inducing dilation of certain blood vessels in the penis. It also increases release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that is helpful in producing erections. Yohimbine first began to be recognized by the public in the 1980s as a result of a strictly controlled study by researchers at Queen’s University Medical School in Canada. Their study showed that yohimbine could help restore potency for diabetics and heart patients (who often have impotency problems). Their success rate was 44 percent, an impressive percentage for such patients. he results were reported in Science Digest, Time, and Health. Additional studies have borne out the conclusions reached by the Canadian researchers.
Several pharmaceutical companies have formulated prescription drugs that contain yohimbine. Examples include Yocon, Actibine, Aphrodyne, and Yohimex. Yohimbine is stronger than either muira puama and damiana, but its side effects often make it impractical to use. According to Dr. Julian Davidson, who conducted a study on yohimbine at Stanford University, “Yohimbine does help men get an erection, but they don’t know what to do with it because they feel so lousy.” Yohimbine should be used only under the guidance of a physician. It should not be used by individuals with kidney disease, high blood pressure, or psychological problems.
Side effects may include: elevated blood pressure and heart rate, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, dizziness, headaches, skin flushing, hallucinations, anxiety attacks, and panic attacks. Yohimbine must never be taken with food or substances that contain tyramine, an amino acid. To do so may cause hypertension (high blood pressure). For example, do not take yohimbine with liver, cheese, red wine, and certain diet aids and decongestants.