Pausinystalia yohimba Pierre ex Beille

Last updated: 21 June 2017

Scientific Name

Pausinystalia yohimba Pierre ex Beille


The following plant species is categorize under ‘Unresolved’ in The Plant List database which means no synonym names can be identified due to insufficient description or no herbarium specimens are known. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Johimbe, yohimbe [2]
France Démarreur [2]
Poland Pau de Cabinda [2].

Geographical Distributions

Pausinystalia yohimba is an evergreen tree native to South and Central Africa, commonly found in the forests and jungles of Cameroon, Congo, West Africa and Gabon. [3]

Botanical Description

P. yohimba is a member of Rubaceae family. [1] It is an evergreen tree that can reach a height of 30 m. [2][3]

The heavily fissured bark is grey-brown in colour and often spotted with lichen. [3]

The interior sides of the fissures are typically redder than the outer bark. [2]

The erect stems branched heavily with ovate or elliptical leaves, roughly 10 cm in length. [3]

The winged seeds are delicate and paper thin. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

The bark of P. yohimba was found to contain yohimbine [4], and its stereoisomers alpha-yohimbine, beta-yohimbine, and allo-yohimbine [5]. Other constituents include ajamalicine, dihydroyohimbine, corynantheine, dihydrocorynantheine, corynanthine, and tannins [6].

Plant Part Used

Bark and stems. [7][8]

Traditional Use

P. yohimba is well known both in various traditional medical practices and in present dietary supplement industries for its effect on the reproductive system. The traditional use of this herb in the southern parts of Africa is as a treatment for erectile dysfunction and as an aphrodisiac for members of both sexes. Primarily, a decoction was used to both restore erectile function, and to diminish mental and physical fatigue. In addition to the uses noted above, the bark of P. yohimba has traditionally been used by African medical practitioners as a tonic to reduce exhaustion much like ginseng would be used by Native Americans. P. yohimba was also used to reduce discomfort associated with cardiovascular issues simply to ease the chest pain.  In related uses, it was used to treat high blood pressure.  In addition to the internal uses listed here, P. yohimba was also used to treat minor skin disorders that would involve some type of inflammation. The topical applications were typically in the form of a paste or ‘plaster’. [7][8]

Preclinical Data

Neuroprotective activity

Yohimbine from P. yohimba also has high affinity for the a2A-adrenergic, a2B-adrenergic and a2C-adrenergic receptors and moderate affinity for the 5-HT51A, 5-HT51B 5-HT51C 5-HT51AD 5-HT52B and D2, and weak affinity for the Dreceptor. [9]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Sexual dysfunction activity

P. yohimba bark is used as an over-the-counter (OTC) agent for sexual dysfunction. The main alkaloid found in P. yohimbe, yohimbine, is used as a prescription medication for erectile dysfunction in men [10]. The mechanism of action of yohimbine includes antagonism of alpha 2-adrenoceptors [11]. Yohimbine causes vasodilatation by activating the nitrergic-soluble guanylate cyclase (NO-sGc) pathway and K(ATP), thereby increasing blood flow to the penis and also potentially lowering blood pressure [12].

A human study has been reported that yohimbine may be an effective treatment for the sexual side effects caused by serotonin reuptake blockers. [13]

In an open trial of yohimbine 5.4 mg t.i.d showed that fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction may be treatable with this extract. [14]

Increase saliva activity

Human study conducted in patients treated with psychotropic drugs was reported to increase saliva production when administrated with yohimbine from P. yohimba. [15][16]

Antiobesity activity

A study also found that yohimbine supplementation in professional athletes significantly decreased the body fat percentage. [17]

Pharmacokinetic activity

Pharmacokinetic study of yohimbine in eight young male subjects suggest that yohimbine that is eliminated primarily through metabolism since the rapid plasma clearance of yohimbine was not the result of renal elimination or sequestration by RBC. [18]


No documentation.

Side effects

P. yohimba, in small doses, has been shown to increase blood pressure, specifically in hypertensive patients, and is therefore not recommended for those suffering from hypertension. [19]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

P. yohimba supplements should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. [20]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

P. yohimba is not generally recommended as a dietary supplement due to a very narrow therapeutic index, leading to an increase in drug interactions and the potential for adverse effects and over dosage. Symptoms of over dosage include excessive adrenal or sympathetic nerve stimulation, anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irritability, headache, nausea, skin flushing, sweating, dizziness, frequent urination, water retention, rise in body temperature, and hyperactivity, weakness, paralysis, gastrointestinal problems, hallucinations, psychosis and even death. [21][22]

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Based on human study, yohimbine has been reported to block the effects of alpha-adrenergic drugs, including clonidine (Catapres) and guanabenz (Wytensin). [10]

Based on pharmacology, use of P. yohimba with MAO inhibitors such as isocarboxazid (Marplan®), phenelzine (Nardil®), tranylcypromine (Parnate®) or linezolid (Zyvox®) may produce additive side effects, such as an increased risk of high blood pressure. [23]

Based on human study, use of ethanol (alcohol) with yohimbine may produce an additive effect of increasing intoxication and drug seeking behaviour. [24]

Based on pharmacology, use with caution when taking medications for erectile dysfunction, including Viagra (sildenafil), as P. yohimba may potentiate the effects of these drugs. [25]

Based on human study, yohimbine may increase pain relief from morphine. [26]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


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  2. Jiofack Tafokou RB. Pausinystalia johimbe (K.Schum.) Pierre ex Beille. In: Lemmens RHMJ, Louppe D, Oteng-Amoako AA, editors. PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa). Wageningen, Netherlands: 2012.
  3. Medical Health Guide. Blending Natural & Modern Medicine. Yohimbe health benefits. [homepage on the Internet]. c2011 [cited 2017 June 21]. Available from:
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  5. Chen Q, Li P, Zhang Z, Li K, Liu J, Li Q. Analysis of yohimbine alkaloid from Pausinystalia yohimbe by non-aqueous capillary electrophoresis and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Sep Sci. 2008;31(12):2211-2218.
  6. Zanolari B, Ndjoko K, Ioset JR, Marston A, Hostettmann K. Qualitative and quantitative determination of yohimbine in authentic yohimbe bark and in commercial aphrodisiacs by HPLC-UV-API/MS methods. Phytochem Anal. 2003;14(4):193-201.
  7. Neuwinger HD. African traditional medicine: A dictionary of plant use and applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers, 2000.
  8. Schmelzer GH, Gurib-Fakim A, Arroo R, Bosch CH, de Ruijter A, Simmonds MSJ, editors. Plant resources of Tropical Africa 11(1) – Medicinal Plants 1. Wageningen, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers, 2008.
  9. Millan MJ, Newman-Tancredi A, Audinot V, et al. Agonist and antagonist actions of yohimbine as compared to fluparoxan at alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors (AR)s, serotonin (5-HT)(1A), 5-HT(1B), 5-HT(1D) and dopamine D(2) and D(3) receptors. Significance for the modulation of frontocortical monoaminergic transmission and depressive states. Synapse. 2000;35(2):79-95.
  10. Riley AJ. Yohimbine in the treatment of erectile disorder. Br J Clin Pract. 1994;48(3):133-136.
  11. Ernst E, Pittler MH. Yohimbine for erectile dysfunction: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. J Urol. 1998;159(2):433-436.
  12. Freitas FC, Nascimento NR, Cerqueira JB, Morais ME, Regadas RP, Gonzaga-Silva LF. Yohimbine relaxes the human corpus cavernosum through a non-adrenergic mechanism involving the activation of K+ATP-dependent channels. Int J Impot Res. 2009;21(6):356-361.
  13. Hollander E, McCarley A. Yohimbine treatment of sexual side effects induced by serotonin reuptake blockers. J Clin Psychiatry. 1992;53(6):207-209.
  14. Jacobsen FM. Fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction and an open trial of yohimbine. J Clin Psychiatry. 1992;53(4):119-122.
  15. Bagheri H, Schmitt L, Berlan M, Montastruc JL. A comparative study of the effects of yohimbine and anetholtrithione on salivary secretion in depressed patients treated with psychotropic drugs. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1997;52(5):339-342.
  16. Bagheri H, Schmitt L, Berlan M, Montastruc JL. Effect of 3 weeks treatment with yohimbine on salivary secretion in healthy volunteers and in depressed patients treated with tricyclic antidepressants. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1992;34(6):555-558.
  17. Ostojic SM. Yohimbine: The effect on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players. Res Sports Med. 2006;14(4):289-299.
  18. Owen JA, Nakatsu SL, Fenemore J, Condra M, Surridge DH, Morales A. The pharmacokinetics of yohimbine in man. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1987;32(6):577-582.
  19. Grossman E, Rosenthal T, Peleg E, Holmes C, Goldstein DS. Oral yohimbine increases blood pressure and sympathetic nervous outflow in hypertensive patients. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 1993;22(1):22-26.
  20. more.Be sure. Yohimbe (yohimbine) drug interactions. [homepage on the Internet]. c2000-2012 [cited 2017 June 21]. Available from:,yohimbe.html.
  21. Giampreti A, Lonati D, Locatelli C, Rocchi L, Campailla MT. Acute neurotoxicity after yohimbine ingestion by a body builder. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2009;47(8):827-829.
  22. De Smet PA, Smeets OS. Potential risks of health food products containing yohimbe extracts. BMJ. 1994;309(6959):958.
  23. Papeschi R. An investigation on the behavioural and hypothermic effects of yohimbine: Interaction with drugs affecting central an peripheral monoamines. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. 1974;208(1):61-80.
  24. Scherr M, Schwerthoeffer D, Froboese T, Castrop F, Bäuml J. [Psychiatric effects and side effects of the alpha-2-antagonist yohimbine: A review of literature and case report]. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2009;77(10):585-590.
  25. Senbel AM, Mostafa T. Yohimbine enhances the effect of sildenafil on erectile process in rats. Int J Impot Res. 2008;20(4):409-417.
  26. Polanco MJ, Alquacil LF, Albella B, Segovia JC, González-Martin C. Yohimbine prevents the effect of morphine on the redox status of neuroblastomaxglioma NG108-15 cells. Tocixol Lett. 2009;189(2):115-120.