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Question

I’ve seen “yohimbe” or “yohimbine” listed as an ingredient in quite a few dietary supplement products. What is it?

OPSS Answer

“Yohimbe” refers to the tree Pausinystalia yohimbe; its bark or bark extract is used in dietary supplement products to purportedly increase libido and for erectile dysfunction, weight loss, and bodybuilding. The bark contains the chemical substance “yohimbine,” which is considered to be the primary active ingredient. However, the term “yohimbe extract” or the like does not mean that it contains a significant amount of yohimbine, because the concentration of the chemical in the tree bark is highly variable and often low.

There is insufficient evidence as to the effectiveness of yohimbe for athletic performance and weight loss. There have been reports of severe side effects from taking yohimbe, and it interacts with many other dietary supplement ingredients, including caffeine (including plant-based ingredients that contain caffeine) and other stimulants such as synephrine (Bitter Orange). Yohimbine is available as a prescription drug in the United States to treat certain types of erectile dysfunction. For more information, we recommend visiting the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.

FAQ updated 19 May 2014

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