Yohimbe Bark (Corvanthe yohimbe)
Yohimbe is a tree that grows throughout the African nations of Cameroon, Gabon and Zaire. (A similar plant in South America is called Quebracho). For centuries, natives from these areas have ingested both the crude bark and purified compound as a tonic to enhance sexual prowess and as an aphrodisiac. The bark has been smoked as a hallucinogen and has been used in traditional medicine to treat angina and hypertension. The herb is a sensual stimulant for healthy men and women. Today, doctors prescribe an extract from the tree to treat organic impotence.
Yohimbe’s energizing effects stem from it’s ability to increase blood flow to the genitals, both male and female. It is thought to stimulate the pelvic nerve ganglia and thus is helpful for men with erection problems. In fact a prescription drug, yohimbine hydrochloride, is the only FDA approved drug for impotence. Effects can include increased libido, increased sensation and increased stamina. Women have also reported similar effects and general pleasant sensations.
Yohimbe bark contains about 6% yohimbine. This constituent is an indole alkaloid that is classified as an alpha-2-adrenergic blocking agent. The herb has a general nervous system stimulatory effect and can cause changes in blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. It can increase the heart rate, raise body temperature and increase blood pressure. At higher dosages, it has a mild psychotropic effect.
Yohimbe bark stimulates chemical reactions in the body that may aid in psychogenic cases of impotence, due to fatigue, tension and stress. Clinical studies have shown the herb to be effective in restoring potency in diabetic and heart patients who suffer from impotency. As an alpha-adrenoreceptor blocker, yohimbe reduces the effect of hormones that cause constriction of blood vessels, which typically increases as we age. It increases the body’s production of norepinephrine which is essential in the formation of erections. Yohimbe may also boost the adrenaline supply to nerve endings, which can quicken male sensual stimulation. It has been used in combination with ginseng and saw palmetto as a remedy for men with low sex drive.
Yohimbe is also a short term MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor and should be used with caution, especially if you have high blood pressure. Being an MAO inhibitor, yohimbe should not be taken with any food or drink containing tyramines (cheese, chocolate, beer, aged meats, nuts, etc.) and particularly not with the amino acids tyrosine or phenylalanine. A rise in blood pressure can result from the body not being able to remove the tyramines from these foods. It may be dangerous if used with anti-depressants, sedatives, antihistamines, caffeine, or amphetamines. Yohimbe may have other side effects such as racing heart rate, irritability, headache, nausea, sweating, dizziness and frequent urination. Anyone with a heart condition, kidney disease, glaucoma or history of gastric or duodenal ulcers should avoid this herb.
Part Used: The inner bark. Used in tablet, liquid extract, and powder forms.
Common Use: The herb has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac for men, and has similar effects with women. Recent studies suggest the drug may be effective in the treatment of male impotence especially that associated with diabetes.
James F. Balch, M.D.: A hormone stimulant. Increases libido and blood flow to erectile tissue. May increase testosterone levels. Dr. Balch adds: Caution: May induce panic attacks and hallucinations in
some individuals. May also cause elevated blood pressure and heart rate, headache, dizziness, and skin flushing. Should not be used by women or by persons with kidney disease or psychological disorders.
Editor: While Dr. Balch’s cautions doubtless have some validity, yet my investigations led me to believe that such reactions were extremely rare. The claim that it should not be used by women is also
believed to be unjustified, though this herb is more commonly used by men. Again: do your own homework, and make up your own mind.
James Green, Herbalist: Yohimbe has a strong aphrodisiac effect, believed to be due to stimulation of the lower centeres in the spinal cord. Some researchers feel this is due rather to the hyperermia (blood
engorement, in this case in the pelvic area) produced. Thought to be of no value when impotence stems from organic nerve trouble, and it is said by some to be harmful when it is used for impotence that is
caused by chronic infamatory disease of the sexual organs or of the prostate (U. S. Dispensatory, 24th ed.). “Its actions apppear to go directly to the sexual centers of the spinal cord increasing tonicity.
Impotence of a functional origin (neurasthenic impotence) appears to be directly affected by its use. It is useful where there is diminished excitability of the sexual centeres. In cases where there is a sudden
failure of power, producing despondency, foreboding and general mental depression, in young mairried men, it is satisfactory.” (Mr. Green’s source: Ellingwood)
Mr. Green cautions that more needs to be learned about his plant, and to abstain from its use with pharmaceuticals and alcohol.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.