Viagra is something that we’re all familiar with (to varying degrees, of course) but did you know there’s a natural alternative? Yohimbine trees can actually help in the same way that the blue pill can. As amazing as that is, there’s a catch. It can cause some serious anxiety and even hallucinations. We’ll break it down for you below.

A young, blonde woman is sitting at a desk. She is explaining yohimbine to her friend. This is a wide-angle image.

What is yohimbine (UK)?  

Yohimbine is found in the bark of a West African tree called Pausinystalia yohimbe and is most commonly used to help treat erectile dysfunction (ED). It increases the amount of blood flow in your body which raises your heart rate and blood pressure. This creates an effect similar to amphetamines.The bark is usually ground up and sold in capsules or liquid form. It can also be brewed with hot water and made into tea. Yohimbine is reddish in colour and has a bitter taste.

In the late ‘90s, there was a double blind study (studies in which both patients and researchers don’t know which group is the control) to find out whether yohimbine hydrochloride can successfully treat ED. Although the results proved promising at the time, further investigation has led to one of the lead researchers admitting to methodological weaknesses in the study. All this is a very fancy way of saying that yohimbine isn’t the best at helping with ED. 

What are the yohimbine side effects? 

Even barks have side effects, and yohimbine is no exception. Here are a few of them: 

  • Men don’t immediately get a raging boner after taking yohimbine, but it can increase sexual arousal, make men’s erections harder and helps them last longer.
  • It triggers the ‘fight or flight’ responses in your body, so hearts beat faster and blood pressure rises.
  • Your body temperature rises, so you’ll get sweaty. Like VERY hot and sweaty.
  • Eyes usually become red and bloodshot.
  • A high dosage of yohimbine can cause strong hallucinations.
  • You may experience high alertness and stay awake for long periods of time.
  • Nerves are stimulated and it increases your breathing capacity, so some people use it as an exercise or weight loss aid.

What are the risks of taking it? 

No rewards without risk right? Here’s some adverse effects to the yohimbine tree:

  • Potential side effects include: anxiety, restlessness, headaches, insomnia, temporary paralysis, and a serious fall in blood pressure. Sounds like a bloody riot right there.
  • If you are a nervous person, this isn’t the drug for you. Yohimbine can over-stimulate the nervous system and increase anxiety. That probably isn’t the most helpful if you already have problems with anxiety or panic attacks.
  • If you have high blood pressure or heart problems, taking yohimbine can be dangerous as it gets your heart thumping and your blood pumping.
  • Hallucinations aren’t something you have any control over. So keep in mind, if you trip on this drug you may have a scary and upsetting experience.
  • Users can experience difficulty breathing.
  • There have been reports of men having painful and sustained erections. This is why doctors don’t commonly use yohimbine for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Always seek medical advice from a health-care professional if you’re dealing with sexual health. 

Yohimbine (UK) and the law

It’s not currently listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and is therefore legal to possess and sell. But any yohimbine dietary supplement is banned in the UK because of the inaccurate labelling of them and potential side effects. 

To find out more about drugs and the law, click here

Slang names

Herbal viagra, yohimbix8, and yohimbe

If you’re planning on taking it:

  • Don’t mix it with foods containing tyramine, like cheese, wine, and overripe fruit. It can cause a dangerous, and potentially fatal, reaction called hypertensive crisis.
  • It is dangerous to mix yohimbine with other stimulants. To find out more about mixing drugs, click here
  • Don’t take if you are pregnant. It can cause miscarriages.
  • If you are on antidepressants steer clear of it. The high can seriously interfere with your medication.

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By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 13-Sep-2021