Herb: Yohimbe (Coryanthe yohimbe, Pausinystalia yohirmbe; Rubiaceae)
Other Names: Corynanthe yohimbe (yohimbe, endone) (38)
Character/Energetics: spicy, warm (6)
Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected: kidney, heart (6)
Part(s) used: bark (6)
Identification & Harvesting: An evergreen tree growing up to 30 m; bark is grey-brown, fissured and split, often spotted. Leaves are oblong or elliptical. Inflorescences consist of racemes of yellow blooms. Grows in jungles of west Africa, Cameroon, Congo and Gabon. (2)
Tender evergreen tree, height 90′(27m), spread 40′ (12m), with red to yellow-ochre wood and glossy, oblanceolate, dark green leaves up to 14″ (35cm) long. White or pink tubular flowers appear in clusters arranged in panicles up to 7″ (18cm) long in winter in the wild, followed by capsules containing small, winged seeds.
Growth: Wild-collected. Moist soil with high humidity, minimum 59-64 degrees F (15-18 degrees C). P. yohimbe does not appear to be in cultivation, and no information has been found on its requirements.
Harvest: Bark is dried in strips for pills, liquid extracts, and extraction of yohimbine. (38)
Bark usually in channelled pieces, outer and inner surface reddish brown. Gives a red coloration when shaken with solution of ammonia. Imported from Cameroon and the French Congo. (57)
Active Constituents: Indole alkaloids 2.7-5.9% incl. yohimbine (quebrachine) and its stereoisomers (alpha-yohimbine, beta-yohimbine, allo-yohimbine), ajamalicin, dihydroyohimbine, corynanthein, dihydrocorynanthein, corynanthin (rauhimbin); tannins. (2)
several isomeric alkaloids, the most important of which is yohimbine (6)
Actions: stimulant, aphrodisiac, cardiac, local anesthetic (6) A bitter, warming, antidiuretic herb with reputedly aphrodisiac effects. It has a stimulant effect on the heart, increases heart rate and blood pressure, and is locally anasthetic. (38)
A reputation on the Continent as an aphrodisiac due to the poisonous alkaloid yohimbine. (57)
Conditions & Uses: Used for sexual disorders, as an aphrodisiac, and for feebleness and exhaustion. (2)
Yohimbe bark treats impotence and frigidity, angina pectoris and painful menstruation. It is an antidiuretic, and either may Iower or increase blood pressure in humans (needs more study). (6)
The African herb yohimbe has been proven to improve a man’s staying power, although it doesn’t fit most people’s idea of a true aphrodisiac. For one thing, yohimbe usually doesn’t increase sexual excitement, although some men interpret its stimulating effect that way. It does improve the operation of the nerves that promote desire while dampening those that stimulate ejaculation (this is just the opposite of cocaine). This translates to prolonged and increased pleasure. But before you rush out to buy some, remember that it is men with sexual dysfunction problems who notice the benefits the most. Men without sexual dysfunctions tend to experience either a mild stimulating ffect or no change at all.
Yohimbe’s action takes about 30 minutes to take effect and then cotinues for a couple hours. During one of my classes, one man agreed that yohimbe was effective for sexual dysfunction and then admitted that he knew this because he had used it himself. He did not offer any details about his situation, but did say that he took it every morning just before going to work. Presuming that he was a faithful husband, I suggested that he might try taking it in the evening instead. He came early to the next class just to thank me for that suggestion, and said that the herb was helping much more now.
Doctors recommend yohimbe. It contains the compound yohimbine, a major ingredient in several prescription drugs for impotence. This compound has an impressive track record, but you will be able to get it only with a prescription. A number of studies have shown that yohimbine helps impotence caused by poor circulation, emotional problems or diabetes–all of which are primary causes of sexual dysfunction. In one study of impotent men, researchers at Queens University in Ontario, Canada, discovered that it helped almost half the participants. Of those who took a placebo (dummy pill), only half as many experienced a change. The researchers who conducted this study declared yohimbine a “safe treatment for psychgenic impotence that seems to be as effective as sex and marital therapy”–a pretty strong statement! Both yohimbe and its extract, yohimbine, often take a couple of months to produce lasting results. (29)
Yohimbe bark is used internally for impotence and frigidity. (38)
Combinations: Impotence Tincture: 1/2 ounce each tinctures of ginseng root, ginkgo leaves, yohimbe bark, fresh oats and damiana leaves–Combine ingredients. Take 30 drops of tincture 3 or 4 times a day for at least 2 months. (Oats and damiana are usually most effective in tincture form. The fall-harvested ginkgo can be taken as a tincture or in pill form.) (29)
Precautions: Contraindicated in liver and kidney diseases. Side effects include anxiety, hypertension, exanthema, nervousness, nausea, insomnia, tachycardia, tremors. Overdoses cause mydriasis, evacuation, negative inotropia, with death resulting in extreme cases due to cardiac failure. (2)
No problems have been reported from using yohimbe, but the concentrate yohimbine occasionally increases heartbeat, raises blood pressure or increases irritability, depression, nervousness or dizziness–certainly none of which inspire passion. To be safe, if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, use yohimbe only under the care of a professional. Also, don’t take it with diet aids, commercial nasal decongestants that contain ephedrine, or with cheese, red wine or liver, since any of these with yohimbine sometimes causes side effects, such as headaches. (29)
Yohimbe interacts with certain hypertension drugs. Not given to patients with hypertension, or renal or hepatic disease. Excess may cause depression.
This herb is subject to restrictions in some countries. (38)
Dosage: 3‑6 gms. (6) Impotence Tincture: 1/2 ounce each tinctures of ginseng root, ginkgo leaves, yohimbe bark, fresh oats and damiana leaves–Combine ingredients. Take 30 drops of tincture 3 or 4 times a day for at least 2 months. (Oats and damiana are usually most effective in tincture form. The fall-harvested ginkgo can be taken as a tincture or in pill form.) (29)
Liquid extract dose, 5-15 minims. (57)
General Notes: This western African genus consists of 13 species of large trees characterized by panicles of tubular flowers with conspicuous appendages. Medicinal use of yohimbe bark appears to have reached Europe in the 1890s. P. yohimbe and the related P. macroceras and P. tillesii contain indole alkaloids, the principal one being yohimbine, which blocks the release of adrenilin and acts as a sexual stimulant. In Africa P. lane-poolei (pamprana, igbepo) is also used medicinally; dressings of ground bark are applied to yaws (a skin infection) and itching skin. SOURCE?
(2) PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 1018-19
(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pg. 303
(29) Herbs for Health and Healing by Kathi Keville, pgs. 192-93, 194
(38) Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses by Deni Bown, pg. 323
(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 385