What is yohimbine, and what is it used for?

Yohimbine is a prescription medicine used to treat male impotence (erectile dysfunction) due to diabetes, vascular conditions or psychological origin. There are, however, limited data on its efficacy, and more effective drugs such as phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors are available to treat erectile dysfunction.

Yohimbine has also been used as a street drug, promoted as an aphrodisiac, hallucinogen, for weight loss and many other purposes, but there is little scientific evidence to support any of these uses.

Yohimbine is a plant alkaloid isolated from the bark of Pausinystalia yohimbine, an evergreen tree native to central and western Africa. Yohimbine hydrochloride is a standardized form of yohimbine and is available as a prescription drug in the U.S.

Yohimbe is the P. yohimbine bark extract and is used in many herbal supplements sold over the counter. There is very little research on the safety and efficacy of yohimbe as a dietary supplement and currently, yohimbine is banned in many countries.

Yohimbine works by blocking alpha-2 adrenergic receptors, protein molecules on nerve cells that are stimulated by norepinephrine. This reduces sympathetic nervous system activity (adrenergic) and increases parasympathetic activity (cholinergic), resulting in increased blood flow into the penis and reduced outflow of blood, which help maintain erection.