The problem with Yohimbe

wood-shavingYohimbe is the name of an evergreen tree that is found in Zaire, Cameroon, and Gabon. The bark of yohimbe contains a chemical called yohimbine, which is used to make medicine. Yohimbe is used to arouse sexual excitement, for erectile dysfunction (ED), sexual problems caused by medications for depression called selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and general sexual problems in both men and women.

Yohimbe contains a chemical called yohimbine which can increase blood flow and nerve impulses to the penis or vagina. It also helps counteract the sexual side effects of certain medications used for depression. Yohimbe, taken by mouth, is possibly unsafe. Yohimbe has been linked to reports of severe side effects including irregular or rapid heart beat, kidney failure, seizure, heart attack, and others.

The primary active ingredient in yohimbe is a drug called yohimbine. This is considered a prescription drug in North America. This drug can be safely used short-term when monitored by a health professional. However, it is not appropriate for unsupervised use due to potentially serious side effects that it can cause.

When taken by mouth in typical doses, yohimbe and the ingredient yohimbine can cause stomach upset, excitation, tremor, sleep problems, anxiety or agitation, high blood pressure, a racing heartbeat, dizziness, stomach problems, drooling, sinus pain, irritability, headache, frequent urination, bloating, rash, nausea, and vomiting.

Taking high doses can also cause other severe problems, including difficulty breathing, paralysis, very low blood pressure, heart problems, and death. After taking a one-day dose of yohimbine, one person reported an allergic reaction involving fever; chills; listlessness; itchy, scaly skin; progressive kidney failure; and symptoms that looked like the auto-immune disease called lupus.

  • Schizophrenia: Use yohimbe with caution. The yohimbine in yohimbe might make people with schizophrenia psychotic.
  • Prostate problems: Use yohimbe with caution. Yohimbe might make the symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) worse.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Don’t use yohimbe. There is a report that four individuals with PTSD suffered worse symptoms after using yohimbe.
  • Liver disease: Don’t use yohimbe. Liver disease might change the way the body processes yohimbe.
  • Kidney disease: Don’t use yohimbe. There is a concern that yohimbine might slow or stop the flow of urine.
  • High blood pressure or low blood pressure: Don’t use yohimbe. Small amounts of yohimbine can increase blood pressure. Large amounts can cause dangerously low pressure.
  • Chest pain or heart disease: Don’t use yohimbe. Yohimbine can seriously harm the heart.
  • Anxiety: Don’t use yohimbe. Yohimbine might make anxiety worse.
  • Depression: Don’t use yohimbe. Yohimbine might bring out manic-like symptoms in people with bipolar depression or suicidal tendencies in individuals with depression.
  • Diabetes: Don’t use yohimbe. Yohimbe might interfere with insulin and other medications used for diabetes and cause low blood sugar.

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