If you want to see a hot debate in the fitness and supplement world, try bringing up yohimbine. Does yohimbine work, or is it just another supplement that gives you the placebo effect instead? Let’s look at both sides of the debate about yohimbine. This yohimbine guide will help you decide if yohimbine is good for losing weight and boosting your sex drive.
What is Yohimbine?
Yohimbine, which is also a natural alpha-2 antagonist, is a derivative of the yohimbe tree. The yohimbe tree is located in Central Africa. Yohimbe is an evergreen tree in central and western Africa. The tree is nicknamed the “love tree” because it is said that the bark has special aphrodisiac powers.
Pygmies, Bushmen, and tribes in Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria have all relied on the yohimbe tree to increase sexual drive, pleasure, and stamina.
The secret lies within the bark. An alkaloid compound found in the bark is called yohimbine. In 1896, researchers discovered that the alkaloid can be reproduced in a lab, making the compound available without tearing down trees. Now, thanks to the internet and fast shipping, ordering yohimbine is available across the globe.
Yohimbine is indole alkaloid extracted from the yohimbe tree bark. An indole alkaloid is a classification of alkaloids that contains a structural moiety of indole. This is the largest classification of alkaloids. The large collection of alkaloids is often used for its psychoactive side effects, as well as for its medicinal properties. The most common indole alkaloid with which most people are familiar is mushrooms.
What is an alpha-2 antagonist?
You know alpha-2 antagonist as the common name alpha blockers. Alpha blockers are used in medical settings to treat conditions from high blood pressure to prostate problems. Alpha blockers, or alpha-adrenergic antagonists, have the ability to relax specific muscles.
The job of alpha blockers when prescribed by a physician is to improve blood flow to muscles by working to prevent norepinephrine from tightening muscles. Norepinephrine, also called noradrenaline, tightens muscles in arteries and veins. When tightening occurs, muscles cannot relax, and as a result, tightening impedes blood flow to the area.
Uses for Yohimbine
Earlier uses for yohimbine in western Africa also included treating fevers and coughs, and even conditions such as leprosy. Additional medical uses over the years have also included dilating the pupils, and treating and cleaning wounds. Tribal traditional uses for yohimbine are also non-medical in nature too. Reports show that the tree bark chemical has been used as an aphrodisiac to increase sexual desire, and as a hallucinogen.
Bodybuilders, athletes, medical professionals, and researchers all have different uses for yohimbine. Potential uses for yohimbe and the derived chemical yohimbine have been reported to address the following:
- Erectile dysfunction and sexual impotence
- Depression and the effects of depression medication side effects
- Exercise performance
- Dry mouth
- Exercise performance and muscle mass
In exercise, bodybuilding, and athletic circles, users prefer yohimbe for its lipolytic and sympathomimetic effects. Lipolysis is the breakdown of lipids. Sympathomimetic effects of a substance that mimic the pulses of the sympathetic nervous system.
Read more about liposomal technology.
Research on Yohimbine/Yohimbe
Researchers have evaluated the potential benefits and effects of yohimbe and yohimbine.
A study conducted on 20 male soccer players observed the possible effects of yohimbine. The study evaluated the use of yohimbine on body composition and exercise performance. The soccer players were split into two groups: yohimbine group and control group. Both groups ingested pills for a period of three weeks.
In the yohimbine group, body fat decreased. Body fat percentage decreased, as well as fat mass decreased. The researchers determined that yohimbine combined with resistance training may be an effective protocol for maintaining fat loss in elite athletes. The study did find that taking yohimbine had no effect on bench press and leg press performance, vertical jump exertion, shuttle runs, dribbling, and other power tests (Ostojic, 2006).
A 2002 review looked at the effectiveness of yohimbine as a natural alpha-2 antagonist to encourage sympathetic activity, and it does so without unnecessary side effects. Pre-exercise administration of yohimbine has the potential to enhance fat burning potential without increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, or anxiety. When yohimbine is used before exercise, it has the potential benefits:
- Boost lipolysis and serum FFA levels during exercise and after exercise
- Lower respiratory quotient
- Promote fat loss
- down-regulate lipoprotein lipase active
- Improve impaired lipolytic activity in older populations (McCarty, 2002).
According to University of Michigan review of yohimbine, the natural supplement has been linked to improving erectile dysfunction by increasing the blood flow to the area. To treat obesity, yohimbine may promote weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. The bark chemical may also further promote a healthy weight by reducing appetite and increasing the body’s natural ability to burn fat.
In those who suffer from depression, research on yohimbine produces promising results about yohimbine’s ability to inhibit monoamine oxidase. Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme that plays a role in removing norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin away from the brain. These chemicals are important for the brain because they affect changes in the brain cells and circuits. These systems are usually affected by depression. Yohimbine as an MAOi, or monoamine oxidase inhibitor, prevents this process from occurring.
Additionally, when researchers study the benefits of yohimbine to improve athletic performance, the focus is on performance and fat burning. Research on the supplement show yohimbine has the ability to stimulate the nervous system to allow fat cells to release fat store. It may also improve cardiovascular activity.
Case Against Yohimbine
One of the biggest concerns among anti-yohimbine groups is the environmental impact harvesting yohimbe trees for the chemical has had on the population. The more people desire yohimbine for its athletic, medicinal, and research purposes, the more trees are at risk. To keep up with demand, native yohimbe trees take a huge hit.
As I mentioned before, yohimbe can be produced in a lab, which is good news for the yohimbe tree and the communities that rely on them.
Another concern about yohimbine is its overall effectiveness. Researchers set out to answer an important question that most people have: does yohimbe really work? A 1991 review aimed to answer that question by observing middle-aged men. Forty-seven men were in a study. The average age of the men involved was 42 years. The men were split up into a yohimbine group and a control group. The men in the yohimbine group were given a maximum dose of 43 mg of yohimbine per day. By the end of the study, a total of 33 men completed the 6-month process. During the half-year observation, researchers looked at several factors: body mass, body weight, HDL levels, and fat distribution. The study concluded that the men in the yohimbine compared to the control group showed no significant changes or improvements (Sax 1991).
There are a couple things to remember about this study: time and activity. First, the study was conducted in 1991, years before recent and more sophisticated studies on yohimbine were conducted. Second, the report does not report increased physical activity levels. As with any supplement, you can’t sit back and expect the product to do all the work. You need to give your body a boost. Supplements for weight loss work best when combined with a healthy diet and physical activity.
Finally, I will point out dosage levels. You will read about safe and effective doses studied for specific purpose:
How to Use Yohimbine
Using the supplement is not the same for everyone. How much yohimbine you should take depends on your weight, and your desired effects. Take a look at this guide for using yohimbine to determine the best dosage for your sides and your needs.
You can take yohimbine with or without food. It is important that you take the correct dose, and if you miss a dose, speak to your doctor right away. Don’t double up, stop, or increase your dosage suddenly. Take your dose as soon as you remember.
If you don’t see results right away, give the supplement a little more time to begin working.
You should be warned that several supplements that include yohimbine doesn’t list the dose or they don’t list the accurate dose. In some cases, listed yohimbine doses are off by as much as 150%. Think about that for a minute. Can you imagine if you are either getting too much or too little of a medication because it was listed wrong on the label. Well, the concern is very real when dealing with supplements because they are not regulated by the FDA. Yohimbine enters the US market from overseas, or it can be diluted by tricky online natural “pharmacies” or websites.
Knowing the proper dose is essential to stay healthy, to avoid unnecessary side effects, and to get the effects you desire.
If you are taking yohimbine for weight loss, pay close attention to the dosage recommendation listed on the supplement. There is a formula that works too if you aren’t sure how much to take. Typically, the dosage is about 0.2 mg per each kg of weight. Too bad we aren’t on the metric system. Here is how it breaks up: 14-15 mg for a person up to 150 pounds; 18-20 mg for a person up to 200 pounds; and 22-25 mg for a person up to 250 pounds.
If you weigh more than 250 lbs., controlling weight with yohimbine is not recommended. Your body and its cardiovascular system may not be prepared to handle the effects of yohimbine, and as a result, you may experience an increased heart rate or blood pressure.
If you take yohimbine for other reasons, higher doses are not recommended. Research on yohimbine suggests the following doses for various uses:
- When used for erectile dysfunction, 5 to 10 drops taken with meals is recommended.
- To assist with obesity, 5 mg of the supplement every 4 hours can be effective.
If you take yohimbine for depression or athletic performance, use the recommended dosage on the bottle as a guide to get the best outcomes.
Side effects of yohimbine
People who are usually sensitive to supplements may experience dizziness. That is why it is important to try the supplement at home first so you know how your body responds to it. If you feel dizzy, don’t drive or operate machinery while taking yohimbine. Obviously, if you become dizzy easily, don’t mix yohimbine with alcohol or other supplements. Additional side effects are minor. Some experiences nausea, nervousness, flushing, and headache. Again, if you are sensitive in the first place, you are probably someone who will feel the brief side effects.
Additional effects of yohimbine vary. In most research, no side effects were reported; however, acute neurotoxicity has been reported in large doses. A 2009 study followed a 37-year-old bodybuilder who experienced severe acute neurotoxic effects within 2 hours of ingesting yohimbine. The patient experienced vomiting, malaise, seizures, and a loss of consciousness. In the case of the bodybuilder, it is important to recognize two things: this was one report and the dose in question was larger than recommended or prescribed.
If you are an anxious person, use caution when taking yohimbine. Researchers report that people who are already predisposed for anxiety and other nervous disorders may experience manic reactions or psychosis. If you suffer from anything anxiety to bipolar disorder, you MUST speak with your health professional.
Do not take yohimbe or yohimbine if:
- You are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
- You currently take antidepressants or other prescribed MAOi’s
- You are allergic to it or any of its ingredients
- You suffer from respiratory concerns
- You have mental or mood disorders
- You have kidney or liver troubles
- You suffer from ulcers in the stomach or intestines
- You are elderly, as the effects of yohimbine may be intensified.
It is critical that you seek medical attention immediately if you suffer from an allergic reaction, hypertension, hallucinations, severe anxiety and panic attacks, migraines, sweating, fevers, vomiting, shaking, or painful urination.
As with any other supplement, you must always inform your doctor and/or pharmacist about use. This is important to avoid negative interactions with medications or surgical procedures. The most common and concerning interaction is between yohimbine and antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. If you are being treated for depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mood disorder, avoid taking yohimbine without speaking with your doctor first.
When you begin taking yohimbine, always start with a half-dose first so you can judge how you and your body will respond to the supplement, as well as how yohimbine interacts with your current medications or supplement regimen.
Forms of yohimbine
There are a few different ways to consume yohimbine. Yohimbine for bodybuilders or medical uses is sold online as either a supplement you take in a pill form or a liquid that you can consume with a dropper. The third way you can consume yohimbine is as an ingredient in a lean mass agent or workout supplement.
When you take yohimbine, it is important to store it properly so the supplement is effective and so you can store it longer. When storing the supplement, do so at room temperature. Yohimbine should be stored at a temperature between 60 and 85 degrees. Yohimbine should not be stored in direct sunlight, in a freezer or fridge, in areas with high moisture or humidity.
Yohimbine is NOT recommended for young children and minors, so yohimbine should be stored out of reach or children.
TIPS AND TAKEAWAYS
Don’t trust any supplement you find online. As you have read, not all companies are reputable and not all supplements are the same. Use caution when buying bodybuilding supplements or research chemicals online. Know where they come from, what ingredients are in the bottle, and the country of origin. When in doubt, so a quick search online to find more information about the supplement and its manufacturer.
If you are looking for a website that sells yohimbine, read the reviews, avoid gimmicks, and second guess any price that seems too good to be true. To get the best results from taking yohimbine, purchase the highest concentration of the product, preferably 100%!