Yohimbine: The Tree of Life

Yohimbe is an evergreen tree that is native to Central and South Africa, and can be found in the jungles and forests of Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon, and Congo. It resembles an oak tree and has an erect stem and many branches. It can grow up to as much as 100 feet and its 10-cm. leaves are ovate and attenuated. The most sought after part is the bark because it is where the active compounds can be found. These compounds are called Yohimbine, a type of alkaloid that is said to have aphrodisiac and stimulant effects.

Traditional Uses

For centuries, natives of Africa have used the bark of the tree for its health benefits as well as for its psychoactive effects. Presently, Yohimbe is gaining popularity for its use as a cure for erectile dysfunction.  The pharmaceutical grade alkaloid is approved for use as a prescription drug in the US.

In Africa, it has been traditionally used as remedy for chest pains, fever, leprosy, coughs, as well as an aphrodisiac or for boosting sexual drive. Newly discovered uses include treatment for hypertension, exhaustion, anxiety and depression, diabetes, and in building muscles. It’s most popular use, however, is as treatment for erectile dysfunction and to arouse sexual excitement.

Therapeutic Benefits for Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

As a treatment for ED, Yohimbe is among the most widely used commercially-available products in many parts of the world. It has been known to improve libido and enhance erections. As far as the level of efficacy of Yohimbine is concerned, results of clinical tests have been varied.  While some tests suggest that it is not very effective, others say it is.

The alkaloid is said to dilate and relax the penal blood vessels, increasing the blood flow and erection in the process. It is also believed that it improves blood flow to the area of the brain that controls sexual urges and functions.

According to Britain’s Journal of Clinical Practice, Yohimbe has positive effects on the treatment of ED. Reports indicate the alkaloids modest therapeutic benefits over placebo, specifically in ED cases caused by other medications and psychogenic or mental disturbance.

Use for Fat Loss

According to Sports Medicine’s Journal of Research, the Institute of Sports Medicine in the former Yugoslavian state of Serbia and Montenegro did a study to establish the effects of the supplement on exercise performance and body composition of pro soccer players. 20 players were selected randomly and divided into 2 groups. One group was given placebo while the other group was made to ingest Yohimbe tablets.

After 21 days, the body fat percentage in the Yohimbe group showed a significant decrease. No side effects were reported.  The results tend to indicate that when combined with resistance training, the supplement does not have a significant effect on muscle and body mass, or the performance indicators in professional soccer players. However, the supplement seems to be a good strategy for fat loss in elite athletes.

Use for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

A clinical study conducted at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute showed that the Yohimbine alkaloid promotes natural adrenaline release that can help control anxiety. Adrenaline usually triggers physiological changes in reaction to mental and physical stress by speeding up body metabolism and heart rate. It has been found to do better than propranolol, a drug used to curb physiological responses in anxiety disorders.

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