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Order : Enzianartige (Gentianales)
Family : Red family (Rubiaceae)
Subfamily : Cinchonoideae
Tribe : Naucleeae
Genre : Corynanthe
Type : Yohimbe
Scientific name
Corynanthe johimbe
K. Schum.

The Yohimbe ( Corynanthe johimbe ; Syn .: Pausinystalia johimbe ) is a tropical Central Africa , Cameroon , Gabon and Congo , to Nigeria , beheimateter tree from the family of Rubiaceae .


Pausinystalia johimbe grows as an evergreen tree and rarely gets more than 30 meters high. The trunk diameter reaches about 50-60 centimeters. Buttress roots are not formed, but the trunk is fluted at the base. The relatively smooth bark is fine-cracked to slightly furrowed and brownish.

The simple, short-stalked and bare, leathery leaves are arranged in whorls of three. The very short petiole is up to 5–8 millimeters long. The entire-margined leaves are obovate, lanceolate or spatulate, at the tip they are rounded to pointed, pointed. They are 13–47 inches long and 5–18 inches wide, the leaf base is wedge-shaped to slightly heart-shaped. The stipules are sloping.

Terminal or axillary, larger and bald panicles with a three-ribbed stem are formed. The mostly almost sessile flowers are arranged in compact groups at the end of the side branches. The hermaphrodite and fragrant, very small flowers are usually five-fold with a double flower envelope . They are first white, then yellow and finally reddish to purple. The small, hairy calyx is short cup-shaped with minimal teeth or lobules. The crown is fused, with an inside hairy, basal narrowed and on top cup-shaped widened, about 2-3 millimeters long corolla-tube, the short, toothed corolla lobes are upright, with a long, 2-2.5 centimeters long and linear, filamentous appendage. The stamens are sessile, attached at the bottom of the corolla tube. The two- to draft tube ovary is inferior with short, enclosed pen with a two-lobed stigma . There is a small discus .

Small, many-seeded, up to 16 millimeters long, obovate to elongated, septicidal, brown capsule fruits are formed, which open in four parts. The small, about 8-12 millimeters long, flat and one-sided winged seeds have a thin, membranous wing.


The first description of Basionyms Corynanthe johimbe was made in 1901 by Karl Moritz Schumann in Notizbl. Bot. Garden Berlin-Dahlem 3: 94. The division into the genus Pausinystalia to Pausinystalia johimbe took place in 1906 by Lucien Baille after Jean Baptiste Louis Pierre in Actes Soc. Linn. Bordeaux 61: 130. Pausinystalia johimbe (K.Schum.) Pierre ex Baille was the accepted species name for a long time, but in a revision in 2014 the whole thing was reorganized and the basionym Corynanthe johimbe K.Schum. used again as an accepted species name. Another synonym is Pausinystalia zenkeri W.Brandt .


Yohimber bark

Extracts from the gray-brown to reddish-brown bark of the trunk and branches of the tree (Yohimberinde, Yohimbe cortex , or Yohimbe cortex , Yohimbehe cortex ) are used as an aphrodisiac in folk medicine.

The bark of other Corynanth species is also used as a substitute for yohimber bark . They also contain alkaloids from the yohimbine group. The best known is the bark of Corynanthe pachyceras , which is known in pharmacies as "Pseudocinchonae africanae cortex".


Structural formula of yohimbine

Yohimbine bark contains 0.5 to 1.5% total alkaloids, mainly yohimbine . The rest are essentially structurally related substances such as α-yohimbine and β-yohimbine, which differ from yohimbine in the cis - trans configuration .

The aphrodisiac effect of yohimbine is said to be due on the one hand to the blockade of α 2 -adrenoceptors in peripheral blood vessels and on the other hand to the blockage of α 2 -adrenoceptors in the central nervous system . This is said to result in an increased blood flow in the male genital organs , in the brain norepinephrine promotes alertness and responsiveness and thus sexual readiness. In addition, the released norepinephrine expands the arteries in the genital area and improves blood circulation. Yohimbine itself is also supposed to constrict the veins in the penis and prevent the premature outflow of blood from the erectile tissue . Yohimbine also acts on serotonin (5-HT) receptors . Yohimbine is said to have a psychoactive effect in higher doses.

Active ingredients of the yohimbine alkaloids type have also been detected in other plants, also in the bark of the white Quebracho blanco , the bark of various Alstonia tree species, subordinate to the snake root ( Rauvolfia ) and others.

Ethnomedical use

The indigenous population of Central Africa have long used extracts of yohimber bark as an aphrodisiac and sexual enhancer. On the one hand it is supposed to strengthen the sexual drive, on the other hand it should work against organically caused erectile dysfunction.

The Maasai use yohimbe in their initiation rites . Yohimbe bark and pieces of acokanthera root are cooked in fresh bovine blood. After taking leads to epilepsy-like rigid cramps. In addition, consumers experience horrific visions of horror and states of fear, which occasionally leads to self-harm , rampage and death.

Use in western medicine

Yohimbine bark is used as a raw material for the industrial production of the medicinal substance yohimbine. Tablets containing yohimbine are used to treat erectile dysfunction, and yohimbine was also used to treat high blood pressure until the 1980s.

However, the effects on potency found for the ingredient yohimbine have not been described for the use of yohimbine bark or its preparations and can therefore not be transferred. Yohimberinde is available as a loose tea drug in pharmacies. The finished medicinal products with extracts of yohimber bark ( Sexanorma N , Tonaton N and others) to increase potency, however, are no longer available in Germany; The Commission E has for Yohimberinde issued a negative monograph because of insufficient efficacy and occupied the incalculable risk-benefit ratio . In the USA, pharmaceutical extracts from yohimber bark, also in combination with other plant extracts, are available over the counter and are offered in health food stores.

Side effects

A number of adverse effects have been observed after using yohimbine: tremors, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, sleep disorders, blood pressure disorders and dizziness, as well as nausea and profuse salivation. Particular caution is required in combination with caffeine , as this can intensify the stimulating effect of the yohimbe ingredients.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. online at biodiversitylibrary.org.
  2. archive.org .
  3. a b H. Wagner: Pharmaceutical Biology. WVG, 2nd edition 1981, p. 174.
  4. S. Klenow et al. (Ed.): Risk assessment of plants and herbal preparations (PDF; 1.8 MB). BfR Wissenschaft, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Berlin 2012, p. 153 ff.
  5. Federal Gazette No. 193a of October 15, 1987.