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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.

Its 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.

The 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.

It stimulates chemical reactions in the body that may aid in psychogenic cases of impotence, due to fatigue, tension and stress. Clinical studies have shown it to be effective in restoring potency in diabetic and heart patients who suffer from impotency. As an alpha-adrenoreceptor blocker, it 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. It 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.

It 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, it 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. It 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 it.

Part Used: The inner bark. Used in tablet, liquid extract, and powder forms.

Common Use: 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.

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