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Herb Reference Guide

Yohimbe

History

Yohimbe is the name of an evergreen tree that occurs mostly in the Atlantic evergreen forest extending from S.E. Nigeria to Congo. The species occurs mainly in closed canopy forest. It is native to; Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria. The bark of yohimbe contains a chemical called yohimbine, which is used to make medicine. It has been used by the indigenous people as an aphrodisiac, but is mostly used for more practical purposes. It is a preferred fuel-wood species, fiber (the inner bark is utilized as straps for hunting panniers), timber, (the young poles are used for construction purposes). The species is also widely used as a snare-trap mechanism due to its flexibility. Its tannin content and deep red pigments also make it an excellent dye.

Function

It is important that we not confuse or use the terms Yohimbe, Yohimbine, or Yohimbine hydrochloride interchangeably. The first term is used to refer to the tree itself or the bark of the tree, the second two terms are isolated alkaloids from the tree bark which when used in pharmaceutical preparations are synthesized into unique molecules and act differently in the human body than the extract or whole bark when consumed. Indigenous people have used the bark of this tree for some unique purposes, including strengthening the singing voice during long celebrations or festivals, to support healthy breeding of their livestock, and as a general energy tonic. It has been used for male enhancement and performance and it is theorized that the mechanism of action is the inhibition of the uptake of norepinephrine at alpha2 receptor cites.

Uses of Yohimbe

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Yohimbine, Corynanthine, Quebrachine and other alkaloids

Parts Used

  • Bark

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy, lactation or if you have hypertension. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

Ostojic SM (2006). “Yohimbine: the effects on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players”. Research in Sports Medicine 14 (4): 289–99.
Oliver-Beyer B. 1986. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

Sunderland et. al. 1997. The ethnobotany, ecology and natural distribution of yohimbe (Pausinystalia johimbe (K. Schum.) Pierre ex Bielle). International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF)