As an herbalist, I highly recommend the evergreen shrub yohimbe to healthy people with sexual problems. For thousands of years, indigenous cultures have used yohimbe as a naturopathic treatment for erectile dysfunction, fatigue and some types of infertility. Today, yohimbe extract is sold as an FDA-approved prescription treatment for ED. Overall, yohimbe is a highly effective and relatively safe product.
However, I don’t, and shouldn’t, use yohimbe myself. As a breastfeeding mother and a person who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I am one of the many people who should not take yohimbe.
If you are interested in using yohimbe supplements, check this list to make sure that you don’t fall into a category of person who should not take yohimbe. Even if you believe it may be safe, always check with a health-care provider before using a medicinal herb.
Pregnant women should not take yohimbe, because it stimulates contractions in the uterus and can cause pre-term birth or miscarriage. Compounds in yohimbe can also cross the placenta and poison the unborn baby, leading to its death or congenital organ failure.
Do not take yohimbe if you are nursing a child, especially if your baby is under three months of age. It’s not clear how much yohimbe enters breast milk, and it could theoretically poison your baby and cause agitation, vomiting, and even liver failure.
People with Schizophrenia
Yohimbe might trigger psychotic episodes in people with schizophrenia, so many health care providers believe that schizophrenics should not take yohimbe or its extracts.
Men with Prostate Enlargement
If you have benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as BPH or prostate swelling, use yohimbe with caution. You may experience worsened symptoms after using the product.
You should not use yohimbe if you have PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Compounds in yohimbe can significantly worsen symptoms of this psychiatric disoder, leading to panic attacks and flashbacks.
People with Anxiety Disoders
People who suffer from anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disoder, should not use yohimbe. It is a powerful stimulant and can trigger episodes of anxiety similar to a caffeine overdose.
People with Bipolar Disorder
If you have bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder, you should not take yohimbe or any product that contains it. Yohimbe has been known to cause mania and manic-like symptoms in people with bipolar disoder.
People with clinical depression should avoid yohimbe, because it may bring out suicidal thoughts and ideation. You may be able to take yohimbe safely if you have a history of depression but if your symptoms are currently well-managed; talk to your health care provider.
People with Cardiovascular Disease
If you have heart disease, you should not use yohimbe or yohimbe extracts. The stimulants in yohimbe can cause abrupt changes in blood pressure, leading to potentially fatal complications.
Blood Pressure Problems
Do not take yohimbe if you have hypertension (high blood pressure) or hypotension (low blood pressure). Yohimbine, the active compound in the herb, may trigger a hypertensive crisis in low doses, or life-threatening hypotensin in high doses. This risk is greatest for people with severe pre-existing blood pressure problems.
People with Liver Disease
You should not take yohimbe supplements if you have liver disease. Liver diseases such as hepatitis, liver cancer, fibrosis and cirrhosis can all affect the way the body processes yohimbe. This could lead to serious consequences.
People with Kidney Disease
Yohimbe can temporary stop or slow the flow of urine, so it is not a good idea to use yohimbe supplements if you have kidney disease. It could worsen conditions such as renal failure.
People with Diabetes
Supplements containing yohimbe can be very dangerous to people with diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, you should not take yohimbe supplements. It can interact dangerously with insulin and blood-sugar lowering drugs, and it can also cause dangerously low blood sugar.
If you have any questions about yohimbe and its safety, consult a health care provider who is intimately familiar with botanical medicine.
Visit the National Institutes of Health Medline Plus encyclopedia for more information about yohimbe.