YOHIMBE (a.k.a. Johimbe) (Pausinystalia Yohimbe)

Family: Rubiaceae

Parts commonly used: Inner bark.

Properties/energetics: Aphrodisiac, stimulant, tonic/Warm; bitter.

Systems predominantly affected:  Nervous, reproductive, circulatory, respiratory.

Uses: Yohimbe has a strong sexual-stimulating effect, and it has been used for ages in Africa in the form of a decoction to increase sexual appetite. When there is diminished excitability of the sexual centers caused by mental and physical fatigue and depression, Yohimbe offers great promise, but with certain precautions. Yohimbe produces a highly energetic alkaloid called yohimbine, an alpha-adrenergic blocker that has been shown to remedy erectile dysfunction in men. It dilates blood vessels, particularly in the genitalia, which is why it has been used so enthusiastically over the years as a sexual stimulant. It also inhibits monoamine oxidase, which, by doing so, counters depression. Yohimbine, the active ingredient, blocks a certain type of sympathetic or adrenalin reaction in the body, again, particularly in the genitalia. Anxiety and stress give sympathetic and adrenaline responses that causes limpness. Yohimbe’s ability to block alpha-adrenergic activity dilates blood vessels, causing the penis to swell, heralding the commencement of libidinous merriment. This is very useful to diminish anxiety patterns in males when erectile dysfunction is emotionally derived. It is thought to be of no value when the condition stems from organic nerve trouble, however, and it is said by some to be harmful when it is used for erectile dysfunction caused by chronic inflammatory disease of the sexual organs or the prostate. It is generally recommended that Yohimbe not be combined with tyramine (a monoamine compound derived from the amino acid tyrosine); theoretically, this combination can cause severe high blood pressure. So, avoid using extracts of this herb when drinking red wine (particularly chianti) and vermouth, as well as when eating bananas, cheese, liver, prepared meats (salami, bologna, other sausages), and large amounts of chocolate. And, go very light on caffeine-containing beverages. Note that Yohimbe provides no anabolic affects. It does not increase testosterone; it just helps testosterone do what it likes to do most. And it works for women too, slightly enhancing nerve sensitivity in the genitalia.

Precautions: Respect the potency of this plant. It affects everybody differently. We advise initial caution and sensible moderation in experimenting with its actions, which are druglike at high doses and have definite potential side effects. Studies of Yohimbe have been conducted with pure yohimbine alkaloid, not the whole plant, which is probably safer. But, here are a few recommended precautions: When taking Yohimbe, avoid foods containing tyramine (listed above). Yohimbe should not be combined with any drugs, including tranquilizers, narcotics, antihistamines, or large quantities of alcohol or any red wine. It is not to be used in conditions where there are inflamed sexual organs and not with heart problems, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, or stomach ulcers or where any internal organ or the nervous system is stressed out or inflamed. Folks with post traumatic stress disorder or panic disorder should not use Yohimbe, nor should pregnant or nursing women. If there is anyone remaining, go for it.

Preparations and approximate doses: Decoction: Simmer 1 ounce of bark in 2 cups water for five to ten minutes; strain and add approximately 1000 milligrams of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to a cup of the decoction. This makes the herb’s constituents easier to assimilate, which helps you avoid nausea. Take 1 to 2 cups of the decoction one hour before desired effects. Stop using this herb after two consecutive weeks of prolonged merrymaking (that’s enough for now; go rest). Tincture: As a nonstimulating tonic to increase sperm production and motility, take 25 to 40 drops three times a day for up to six weeks. Best to take this with other sexual tonics such as American Ginseng, Wild Oat, Muira Puama, Ashwagandha, Saw Palmetto, and so forth. As a sexual stimulant, use larger, more frequent doses, but monitor yourself— better to err on the side of “Well, maybe a little more next time,” and indulge in more foreplay.

By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008

For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition