Yohimbine or quebrachine is a constituent of the bark of Pausinystalia johimbe, which has been used since ancient times in Africa as an aphrodisiac, tonic, and stimulant. Other species which may contain yohimbine are P. macroceras and P. trillesii. Nowadays, it is used mostly as a treatment for frigidity, impotence, and as a local anesthetic.
It is also used for sexual magic rituals inspired by Indian Tantra and the work of Aleister Crowley.
How it Works
Yohimbine is believed to increase the release of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that can act as lucid dream trigger if its levels are increased right before naturally entering REM sleep. Activation of brain norepinephrine during a lucid dream can improve focus, attention, alertness, the ability to remember the waking state, and even the mood. Increased levels of this neurotransmitter may also enhance dream recall.
Yohimbine absorbed quickly and reaches peak plasma levels absorption. It reaches peak plasma levels in approximately one hour. It also has a short elimination half-life (15 minutes-2.5 hours). And it’s fully cleared from the body in 5 hours.
When a higher dose of yohimbine is taken, the excess norepinephrine which is produced will “spill-over” from the brain to the rest of the body, thereby stimulating the sex organs. In even higher doses, mild hallucinations may be experienced along with anxiety and a host of other unpleasant symptoms, including insomnia and serotonin syndrome.
Avoid yohimbine if you’re taking any other drugs, especially MAOIs (e.g., some anti-depressants).
Besides being an aphrodisiac, Yohimbé bark is said to be mildly hallucinogenic thanks to its yohimbine content. Its effects are said to be similar to those of LSD, but with less emotional content and an emphasis of physical phenomena such as a relaxed feeling, sexual desire, slight auditory/visual hallucinations, and increased erotic enjoyment and sensations of pleasure.
Yohimbine has sympatholytic effects and local anesthetic effects (which is why it is sometimes added to “cut” street cocaine), as well as vasodilating effects, particularly upon the sex organs.
However, in much lower doses, yohimbine acts as a oneirogen, boosting the vividness of dreams and their recall. It’s important to use a low dose, otherwise sleep would be impossible.
The bark of the Yohimbé Tree can be used in aphrodisiac smoking blends. Alternatively, a tea or an alcoholic extract (tincture) can be made from it. To make a tea, boil 6 teaspoons of ground bark for 10 minutes.
It is sometimes used as an iboga additive.
While the dosage for treating impotence is 5-10 mg yohimbine three times daily, achieving psychoactive effects involves a single dose of 15-25 mg.
Effects may last 2-4 hours.
For use as an oneirogen, the dose is much lower. The ideal dose as a lucid dreaming trigger is no more than about 1 mg. At this dose adverse effects including anxiety are minimized. Start with 0.75 mg and increase the dose gradually if needed.
Other Plant Sources
Yohimbine is the primary alkaloid in the Malaysian species Alstonia angustifolia. May also be present in the South Asian Alstonia scholaris.
It is also present in Africa in some species of snakeroot (Rauvolfia macrophylla, R. serpentina, and R. volkensii), Vinca, and Corynanthe, a plant which is related to Pausinystalia johimbe. The bark of Mitragyna stipulosa (Kratom) is drunk with palm wine, and is said to contain yohimbine type alkaloids.
Yohimbine can also be found in the South American aphrodisiac bark of white quebracho (Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco). In North America, Catharanthus lanceus is a plant which contains the chemical.
Yohimbine has also been isolated from Amsonia elliptica, Vallesia glabra, Gelsemium sempervirens, Strychnos nux-vomica, and Alchornea floribunda.
The Yohimbé Tree can be propagated from seed. However, it would take a while for the tree to grow its psychoactive bark (15-20 years).
It is important to keep in mind that because harvesting the bark kills the tree, the high demand for yohimbine has made this tree endangered. Another problem is that the bark is often collected illegally by local people who are said to confuse it with P. macroceras (“false yohimbe”), a species that contains lower levels of yohimbine than P. yohimba.
Because of this and since preparations from the dried bark of even P. yohimba tend to produce mild effects, in some cases an extract (such as a tincture) or pure yohimbine (yohimbine hydrochloride) may be preferred.
Alternatively, you can purchase the bark of Aspidosperma quebracho-blanco, which is not an endangered species.