Yohimbe, a substance now commonly sold in natural supplement stores and on the Internet, is derived from the bark of an evergreen tree of the same name, native to Africa. It grows in the forests of the Congo, Cameroon, Gabon and Nigeria.
In tribal Africa, yohimbe is used as a traditional remedy for various ailments, including coughs, fever and even leprosy.
Yohimbe reportedly increases sexual arousal in both men and women by dilating blood vessels and thus increasing blood flow. It is sometimes taken as a treatment for male erectile dysfunction.
Allegedly, yohimbe keeps those who consume it in a state of hyper-alertness, with their senses enhanced, and they are able to stay awake all night.
Yohimbe has the property of inhibiting monoamine oxidase (MAO), a neurochemical associated with depressive disorders, and is therefore said to help cheer a person up.
Overuse of yohimbe (more than 40 mg per day) can cause priapism (abnormal, persistent penile erection), insomnia, anxiety, hypertension, chills and temporary loss of muscle function. Sometimes hallucinogenic side effects have even been reported.