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Yohimbe Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings

  • Yohimbe is a tree bark containing a variety of pharmacologically active chemicals. It is marketed in a number of products for body building and "enhanced male performance." Serious adverse effects, including renal failure, seizures and death, have been reported to FDA with products containing yohimbe and are currently under investigation.
    - Food and Drug Administration --

  • The major identified alkaloid in yohimbe is yohimbine, a chemical that causes vasodilation, thereby lowering blood pressure. Yohimbine is also a prescription drug in the United States. Side effects are well recognized and may include central nervous system stimulation that causes anxiety attacks. At high doses, yohimbine is a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor. MAO inhibitors can cause serious adverse effects when taken concomitantly with tyramine-containing foods (e.g., liver, cheeses, red wine) or with over-the-counter (OTC) products containing phenylpropanolamine, such as nasal decongestants and diet aids. Individuals taking yohimbe should be warned to rigorously avoid these foods and OTC products because of the increased likelihood of adverse effects.
    - Food and Drug Administration --

  • Yohimbe should also be avoided by individuals with hypotension (low blood pressure), diabetes, and heart, liver or kidney disease. Symptoms of overdosage include weakness and nervous stimulation followed by paralysis, fatigue, stomach disorders, and ultimately death.
    - Food and Drug Administration --

  • Yohimbe can be toxic and should be avoided. The effective dose is very close to the toxic dose. Self-medication is strongly discouraged because of its side effects. Yohimbine from yohimbe bark can produce significant side effects even in moderate to small amounts, especially if taken over a long period of time.

  • May induce excessive adrenal or sympathetic nerve stimulation, anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irritability, headache, nausea, skin flushing, sweating, dizziness, frequent urination, water retention, rise in body temperature, and hyperactivity, weakness, paralysis, gastrointestinal problems, hallucinations, psychosis and even death.
    - Murray, M. -- The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, and Other Natural Products. -- Bantam, 2002. 823.

  • People who have inflammation in their sexual organs should not use Yohimbe.

  • Yohimbe should not be used by people who are taking drugs - especially tranquilizers, anti-depressants, sedatives, caffeine, amphetamines, antihistamines or narcotics - or significant amounts of alcohol.

  • Anyone with a heart condition, kidney disease, diabetes, glaucoma, abnormal blood pressure, irregular blood sugar, brain and mental health disorders, or history of gastric or duodenal ulcers should avoid this herb.

  • Advise your health care practitioner before taking any yohimbe-containing product if you are taking cardiac or psychiatric medications.

  • Yohimbe 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, yohimbe should not be taken with any food or drink that contain high amounts of tyramine (all wines, beer and ale; cheese, products made with large amount of yeast, salami, sausage, bologna, pepperoni, pickled herring, meat extracts, chicken liver, salted dried fish, avocado, tomato, green bean pods, eggplant, Italian broad beans, banana, red plums, oranges, figs, raisins, soy sauce, bouillon cubes, soya, stored beef) 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's generally of no value when impotency stems from organic nerve troubles.

  • Yohimbine is known to interact with the effects of opioid receptor agonists in vivo, and could modulate the action of morphine-like analgesics. Yohimbine effectively prevented the effects of the lower concentrations of morphine. Toxicol Lett. 2009 Sep 10;189(2):115-20. Epub 2009 May 27. Yohimbine prevents the effect of morphine on the redox status of neuroblastomaxglioma NG108-15 cells. Polanco MJ, Alguacil LF, Albella B, Segovia JC, González-Martín C.

last update: February 2014

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat a health condition or disease without consulting with your healthcare provider.
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