Yohimbe Bark Benefits, andTraditional Use

Yohimbe bark extract is a traditional herbal remedy derived from the Pausinystalia Yohimbe plant, which is an evergreen which can grow to a height of almost one hundred feet.

It bears a slight resemblance to the oak tree and has oval attenuated leaves with bushy inflorescences that produce winged seeds.

The light or gray-brown bark of the tree is about a third of an inch thick with horizontal and vertical fissures and is usually overgrown with lichens. It is this bark of the tree that is the source of the psychoactive yohimbine alkaloids.

The bark of this West African tree is a natural bet for reversing sexual dysfunction. Until the advent of Viagra, the most commonly prescribed drug for erection problems was a pharmaceutical isolation of Yohimbe’s’ active ingredient, yohimbine.

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Yohimbe’s power comes from a combination of alkaloids, which are organic plant substances that have strong medicinal properties and are frequently used as drugs.

Yohimbine, yohimbine hydrochloride, and Yohimbe bark extract are related but different. While Yohimbe refers to the herb, yohimbine refers to the active chemical found in Yohimbe.

It is believed that Yohimbe lives up to its reputation as a sexual performance enhancer.

Yohimbe herb is often thought of as male erectile dysfunction support but is also effective in women.

The Yohimbe extract increases blood flow to the genitals of both males and females giving women an enhanced sensation and engorgement of genital organs.

Yohimbe is also sold as a muscle building natural version of anabolic steroids but is probably of little value in building bigger muscles.

Common Uses of Yohimbe Bark Extract

Yohimbe bark extract is now sold in health food stores for the following purported benefits:

Weight Loss:

The stimulation caused by ingestion of Yohimbe makes a person more active, which is purported to support weight loss results.

It has also been shown to increase metabolizes of fat and promote fat loss. While many in the bodybuilding community use Yohimbe supplements for weight loss, but more research is needed to rate efficacy.


Yohimbe works by increasing the release of catecholamine hormones in the body, such as norepinephrine, and is sometimes used to increase energy levels, both for athletic performance and for mental focus and concentration.

It can also increase glucose release from the liver, which increases available energy for cells throughout the body.

However, this supplement may not be safe for everyone, and some report feeling anxiety or agitated after taking this supplement.

It can even cause more serious side effects for the cardiovascular system at higher dosages.

Erectile Dysfunction:

As already stated above, Yohimbe has also been widely studied as a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). There is evidence that, by acting as a vasoconstrictor, it may be effective for this disorder.

This means that it can support the flow of blood supply to the penis, and keep it there for longer periods, helping men achieve and maintain an erection.

Furthermore, since yohimbine acts as an alpha-2-adrenergic antagonist, it causes endothelial tissue in the penis to relax, thus, allowing for more blood to reach the penile tissues.

Increased Libido in Men and Women:

Traditionally, Yohimbe bark was used to boost sex drive in both men and women, and is still one of the most popular reasons for taking Yohimbe extract supplements in recent times.

Yohimbine works by increasing blood flow to the genitals in both men and women, resulting in increased sensitivity of nerve impulses in these regions.

As a result of this, it is often used to increase libido and sexual enjoyment, especially in individuals suffering from sexual dysfunction due to prescription medication use.

Some studies have also suggested that it can improve libido in patients taking SSRIs.

Yohimbe Traditional Uses

Since ancient times the bark of the Yohimbe tree has been employed in Africa as an aphrodisiac.

It is believed that the ancient Egyptians were aware of this and even imported, the bark of the Yohimbe tree through trade channels with West Africa.

In Cameroon, the bark of the Yohimbe tree is used in folk medicine to treat impotence resulting from black magic and witchcraft.

It is also likely that Yohimbe was once used in western Africa as an initiatory drink in fetish and ancestor spirituality practices, as well as for initiations into secret societies.

It was alleged that black magic sorcerers gave followers a Yohimbe drink to prepare them for a great initiation.

After drinking the potion, the subject’s nerves would tense up in an extreme manner and an epileptic-type fit would get over them,  during which the subjects would begin to unconsciously utter words that, when heard by the initiated, held prophetic meaning and demonstrated that the spirits were successfully dwelling within the initiate.

The Masai use a portion that is cooked from the bark of the Yohimbe tree together with the roots of Acokanther as a poison for arrow heads.

The use of Yohimbe bark is well established in Nigeria, Gabon, and Cameroon, where it is used as a stimulant and aphrodisiac, but is said to disturb one’s sanity when taken in high doses.

The Yohimbe bark extract is used by the Bantu of West Africa in fertility rituals that can last up to 15 days, with the bark being consumed continuously over that period.

The plant is sometimes, fed to hunting dogs along with meat as a stimulant, and is used as a fish poison in Gabon.

Yohimbe is also known to be used as a religious ritual in pagan wedding ceremonies

Side Effects of Yohimbe Bark Extract

Yohimbe is associated with serious side effects if abused or used in excessive dosages.

While the herbal bark may be well tolerated by many, some individuals may be more sensitive than others, and may experience side effects, even at low doses.

Some of the potential negative effects of Yohimbe bark supplements include:

  • An increase or decrease in blood pressure
  • An increase in heart rate
  • Hyperactivity, and unstable blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • An increase in need to urinate
  • Cold sweats

Before using Yohimbe bark extracts, check in with a doctor to determine whether this supplement is appropriate for you.

Grant Philips