What Is Yohimbe?

Medically Reviewed

Made from the bark of a West African tree, yohimbe has been used as an aphrodisiac for centuries. In pre-Viagra (sildenafil) days, it was sometimes prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction. A standardized extract is still available by prescription, though little used today. What the science says: Yohimbe dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow, and thus may improve erections. It has been shown to increase sexual arousal in rats, but has had mixed results in human studies.

Special precautions: Dangerous when taken long term or in large doses. Should not be used if you have kidney problems or a psychiatric condition.

Common side effects: Serious side effects include a boost in blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms. Yohimbe may also cause headache, anxiety, dizziness, stomach upset, tremors, and sleeplessness.

Possible interactions: Antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihypertensives, stimulants.

Our advice: Because of safety concerns and the variability of the active ingredient, yohimbe should not be used.