Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos

Medically reviewed by

Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos

Last reviewed: 28 Feb 2019

Herbal remedy for erectile dysfunction (ED)

Mortar and pestle on a wooden bench full of yohimbine bark

Key takeaways

  • Yohimbine is a herbal remedy for erectile dysfunction made from the bark of the Yohimba tree

  • If Yohimbine is prescribed for erectile dysfunction, anywhere between 15 – 30 mg daily is a safe amount

  • Yohimbine can either increase or decrease blood pressure and has been thought to work as a stimulant, antidepressant and weight loss aid

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Yohimbine is a herbal remedy for erectile dysfunction or impotence. It’s made from the bark of the West African Yohimba tree. Yohimbine works by dilating the blood vessels of your penis, helping you to get and keep an erection.

You should only take Yohimbine if a doctor has prescribed it to you. Unlicensed versions of the drug contain little or no Yohimbe extract and can be dangerous.

What is Yohimbine?

Yohimbine is a herbal remedy made from the bark of the Yohimba tree. Yohimbine is a chemical found in Yohimba tree bark known as an alkaloid. This has been made into a supplement you can get on prescription for impotence or erectile dysfunction.

You might see Yohimbine under another name. It’s also known as:

  • Yohimbe
  • Yohimbine Bark
  • Yohimbine Hydrochloride
  • Yohimbine HCL
  • Yocon

All of these drugs contain the same ingredients and are interchangeable names for Yohimbine.

What can Yohimbine treat?

Yohimbine is used mainly in the treatment of erectile dysfunction or impotence in men. More research into the benefits of Yohimbine is needed, but proponents of the drug argue that it has several other health benefits.

Yohimbine is thought to work as:

  • a stimulant (increasing adrenaline levels in your body)
  • medicine to prevent heart attacks
  • an antidepressant
  • a weight loss aid (by inhibiting a process in your body that stops fat burning)

There’s evidence to show that Yohimbine may have some small effect in helping aid weight loss. In 1991, a study of 20 overweight women on a diet of 1,000 calories per day. Each was given 20 mg of Yohimbine a day and lost 3 pounds more than those who weren’t taking any. Any weight loss drug should, however, always be taken alongside a healthy diet and exercise.

There’s also evidence from several studies to show that Yohimbine is effective in improving sexual arousal for both men and women. This is especially true for people experiencing sexual problems as a side effect of taking certain medicines for depression.

What effect can Yohimbine have on erectile dysfunction?

There’s much evidence to suggest that Yohimbine does have a positive effect on men who have erectile dysfunction. Initially, it was considered a failure as a treatment because it doesn’t increase testosterone levels in the body, the hormone needed for erections. However, recent trials have shown that it works well to increase arousal and blood flow to the penis.

Yohimbine works in two ways:

  • by relaxing the tissue of your penis (to allow an erection to occur more easily)
  • by increasing blood pressure (which increases the strength of your erection)

Yohimbine may be less successful if your erectile dysfunction is caused by physical factors, such as poor blood flow or circulation.

What effect does Yohimbine have on blood pressure?

Depending on the dose, yohimbine can either increase or decrease blood pressure. Small doses can increase blood pressure. Higher doses can lead to a potentially dangerous drop in blood pressure. Higher doses of oral yohimbine may have numerous side effects, such as rapid heart rate, overstimulation, unusual blood pressure, cold sweating and insomnia.

What dosage of Yohimbine should you take?

For erectile dysfunction, anywhere between 15–30 mg daily is a safe amount.

One problem noted in Yohimbine is that it’s tricky to control the amount of the drug in every dose. Over-the-counter or unregulated versions of Yohimbine bought online without prescription can vary drastically in the amount of Yohimbe they contain.

You should only take versions of Yohimbine that have been prescribed to you by a doctor to make sure you are getting the right amount for your needs.

What are the side effects of Yohimbine?

If you are prone to anxiety, you should be careful when taking Yohimbine. As a stimulant, Yohimbine works by increasing the levels of adrenaline in your body. This process can trigger anxiety or panic attacks if you’re predisposed to them.

Taking too much Yohimbine can lower your blood pressure to a dangerous level. This could cause dizziness, nausea and fainting. Only take the dose recommended when you have been prescribed the drug to avoid any unpleasant side effects.

Other reported side effects include:

  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • nervousness
  • palpitations

However, in most studies, these side effects were rare and reversible.

Is Yohimbine safe?

When taken correctly, Yohimbine is a safe drug. However, you should always be careful when mixing medicines and supplements. Ask a doctor before taking Yohimbine if you’re taking any other medication because it may react badly.

If you’re pregnant, have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), liver or kidney disease or prostate problems, seek medical advice before taking Yohimbine.

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Medically reviewed by:
Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos

Dr Nicholas Antonakopoulos graduated from the University of London in 2006. He did his postgraduate training in hospitals in the London area, and he trained for four years in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery before completing his training in General practice in 2015.

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Last reviewed: 28 Feb 2019

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