Is Yohimbe the Wonder Herbal Product? Increased Libido and Fat Loss?!

Most of us have heard about yohimbe. It created quite a buzz a few years ago when it was found to be of value in male impotence. Apparently, yohimbine increases the blood flow to the soft tissue of the penis which then results longer lasting and harder erection.

Yohimbe plantHowever, that’s not all; yohimbe has also been making waves as a weight-reducing agent. Apparently, it is one of the commonest ingredients in commercially available fat-burners.

So, is yohimbine the wonder herbal product – causing increased male libido and fat loss at one go? Sounds too good to be true – you are probably right!

Let us find out!

What is Yohimbe?

Yohimbe is the active ingredient derived from the bark of the tree Pausinystalia yohimbe; Rauwolfia serpentina plants also contain yohimbe (Seifert, Schaechter, Hershorin, & Lipshultz, 2011).

While yohimbe is the herbal product, yohimbine is the more pure form which is available as a drug; it is used in the treatment of male impotence.

Yohimbe’s Proposed Mechanisms of Fat Loss

The active ingredient yohimbine hydrochloride (yohimbine HCl) is an ?-2 receptor antagonist – meaning it blocks the ?-2 adrenergic receptors. This increases blood flow to the extremities (arms and legs) and penis. As mentioned earlier, yohimbine HCl tablets are prescribed chiefly for male impotence.

As opposed to the purer yohimbine, yohimbe may be more specific to weight loss. It has long been suspected that in addition to yohimbine HCl, yohimbe bark may include other bioactive alkaloids; these may be responsible for loss of bodyweight.

Following mechanisms have been proposed for the action of yohimbe:

  • Stimulates the central nervous system and increases central sympathetic outflow. The subsequent release of adrenaline is responsible for the fat burning effects of yohimbe.
  • Stimulates the release of nitric oxide from the inner layers of blood vessels – nitric oxide causes relaxation of blood vessels and therefore increased blood flow. Increased blood flow is responsible for enhanced basal metabolism and expenditure of energy.

In a nutshell, the fat-reducing ability of yohimbe is due to:

  • Increased central sympathetic outflow,
  • Adrenaline induced-lipolysis, and
  • Increased resting energy expenditure

How do I Take Yohimbe Supplements?

The general recommendation yohimbe dosage is once daily before workout on an empty stomach. It is advisable to take yohimbe with plenty of water and to strictly keep within the recommended doses to avoid risk of serious adverse effects. Yohimbine on the other hand is taken three times a day.

Doses vary depending on whether you are using the herbal yohimbe or the purer yohimbine and the purpose for which it is used:

  • Yohimbe dose for weight loss – Supplement companies suggest a dosage of 0.2mg/kg of body weight. It is best combined with caffeine and taken 30 min. before an exercise session. Yohimbe pills are available in 2.5mg strengths.

Thus, you’d need to take 6 pills if you weigh somewhere in the range of 70-75Kg.

  • Yohimbine for erectile dysfunction: 5.4mg orally x 3 times a day.

Adverse Effects and Cautions for the Use of Yohimbe

Yohimbe (and yohimbine) has the potential to cause dizziness and light-headedness. Thus, activities like driving, operating machines and playing contact sports may prove hazardous.
Yohimbine (and most likely yohimbe) seems to interfere with and worsen pathological conditions like:

  • Peptic ulcers (gastric or duodenal),
  • Kidney disease,
  • Depression and other forms of psychiatric disease, and
  • Heart disease

Caution is advised if used; it is best to consult your physician when using yohimbine/yohimbe if these conditions are present.

Yohimbine in low doses causes hypertension while a paradoxical fall in blood pressure is seen with higher doses.

Symptoms of yohimbe/yohimbine overdose are:

  • Headachea,
  • Blurring of vision,
  • Anxiety,
  • Disorientation and confusion,
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (esp. tachycardia), and
  • Death

Also, the safety (of using either yohimbe or yohimbine) in pregnant and lactating states has not been investigated. Hence it makes sense to avoid these when pregnant or breast-feeding. Similarly, yohimbe and yohimbine are contraindicated in children and young adults.

Scientific Review of Yohimbe

Yohimbine has been extensively studies for its aphrodisiac properties. The same, however, cannot be said about the weight-reducing abilities of yohimbe. Despite this, yohimbe finds its way into a number of commercially available fat-burners.

Very few studies that have investigated the effect that yohimbe has on body weight and body composition, have come out with equivocal evidence.

  1. A study conducted in 1991 by Kucio et al. concluded that yohimbine causes significant weight loss (Kucio, Jonderko, & Piskorska, 1991). However, the authors found no significant effect on lipolysis.
  2. Another study that investigated the ability of yohimbine to cause weight loss concluded that yohimbe had no effect on body weight, body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) or blood lipid levels (Sax, 1991).
  3. Another study reported that yohimbine seems to increase the plasma levels of non-esterified fatty acids. This is proof enough that it induces lipolysis (breakdown of fat). However, the study did not report any changes in body weight.

Notwithstanding the inconclusive reports, it is of interest that most studies in the past have used the drug yohimbine rather that the herbal extract yohimbe. And, as stated earlier, the herbal extract may contain other alkaloids that may support weight loss. Despite this, it cannot be denied that there isn’t enough scientific evidence in favour of yohimbe.

Our Verdict on Yohimbe

Based on the current status of literature on yohimbe, we cannot say for sure that yohimbe causes weight loss –the evidence in favour of yohimbe seems to be inconclusive.

Further research is warranted before yohimbine is able to nail its status as a fat-burner.

Useful References

  • Kucio, C., Jonderko, K., & Piskorska, D. (1991). Does yohimbine act as a slimming drug? Isr.J Med Sci., 27, 550-556.
  • Sax, L. (1991). Yohimbine does not affect fat distribution in men. Int J Obes, 15, 561-565. Online Reference
  • Seifert, S. M., Schaechter, J. L., Hershorin, E. R., & Lipshultz, S. E. (2011). Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Pediatrics, 127, 511-528. Online Resource

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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