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Yohimbine for Weight Loss: an Effective Fat Burner or Just a Fake?


  • Yohimbine for Weight Loss: an Effective Fat Burner or Just a Fake?

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    The reason for its "effectiveness", in a hypnotic overseas name or African roots, is not clear. In this article, we will introduce you to the opinion of scientists regarding the benefits of yohimbine for weight loss, as well as the possible side effects of its use.

    The weight loss industry is inflating like a balloon. This is especially true for magic pills for weight loss - fat burners.

    On Amazon, there are over 6,000 items of weight loss drugs…

    Many of them promise tempting quick results and dissatisfaction with our weight and reflection in the mirror, multiplied by our unwillingness to change anything in our lifestyle, make us ideal consumers.

    Some manufacturers even claim that when taking their pills we do not even have to give up favorite foods - we can eat any food in any quantities and we will still lose weight!

    We have already talked about scientifically-proven ineffectiveness of fat burners for weight loss if you do not change lifestyle.

    Today we will talk about the effectiveness of Yohimbine for weight loss, which is widely advertised as a super effective fat burner. Can this drug with an extravagant name become our hope to get rid of the epidemic of fat in a cruel world full of sweet temptations?

    What is Yohimbine?

    Yohimbine for weight loss is a chemical that is found in the bark of an evergreen tree from Africa, called Pausinystalia Yohimbe.

    Yohimbine belongs to the class of alkaloids. They also include such well-known substance as caffeine.

    Alkaloids have a certain effect on the body: they can excite or depress the nervous system, paralyze the nerve endings, have an analgesic effect, narrow/expand blood vessels.

    In small doses, alkaloids are usually curative; in large doses, they are poisonous.

    In traditional medicine, Yohibmin has long been used to improve libido (sexual function) and has proven to be quite effective in treating erectile dysfunction [6].

    The theoretical justification for the benefits of yohimbine for weight loss is that it can affect certain receptors (alpha 2-adrenoceptors), increasing the level of adrenaline and noradrenaline in the blood, which activate fat burning (the use of fat for energy) [12].

    This is the theory. Let's see what science says.

    What scientists say about the effectiveness of yohimbine for weight loss

    In general, scientific research questions the benefits of yohimbine for weight loss. Only a small number of them show some effectiveness, but most of them show that yohimbine is useless.

    Some examples

    Positive studies of yohimbine for weight loss

    In one experiment involving professional soccer players, it was found that 20 mg of yohimbine per day (2 doses of 10 mg) taken for 3 weeks helped reduce the percentage of body fat from 9.3% to 7.1% [4].

    However, the indicators of physical fitness or efficiency did not change.

    The researchers' conclusion: "the results of our research suggest that yohimbine in combination with strength training does not lead to significant changes in body weight, muscle mass, or athletic performance in football players.

    However, it is possible that yohimbine can be used as a fat-burning agent by professional athletes."

    In another study, it was found that taking 15 mg of yohimbine for weight loss in normal-weight and obese subjects slightly increased energy consumption during exercise and was accompanied by a slight increase in the concentration of fatty acids in the blood, which indicates a slight increase in the effect of fat burning [3].

    A positive conclusion about the benefits of yohimbine for weight loss was made by researchers in another experiment involving 20 obese women.

    All of them were on a low-calorie diet (1000 kcal) and half of them took 5 mg of yohimbine 4 times a day for 3 weeks. The researchers concluded: "yohimbine significantly increased weight loss on a calorie-restricted diet: 7.9 pounds (3.6 kg) vs. 4.8 pounds (2.2 kg) (placebo)" [11].

    It would seem: we can rejoice, science confirms the effectiveness of yohimbine for fat burning! But let's turn the medal to the other side.

    Possible explanations for the positive results of the effectiveness of yohimbine as a fat burner in the above studies:

    1. On a diet with a caloric restriction to 1000 kcal, it is possible to lose weight by 6 - 11 pounds (3-5 kg) per month without yohimbine; the exact figure depends on gender (for women it's easier), degree of obesity (the fatter, the higher the speed at the initial stage), etc. Therefore, there is nothing significant in the last experiment.

    2. It should also be noted that yohimbine is a natural diuretic and stimulates the elimination of fluid from the body. It is difficult to say whether the recorded changes in weight were the cause of fat burning or a decrease in water content.

    Since the experiment with football players used the method of measuring the thickness of the skin fold to assess the benefits of yohimbine for weight loss, its reduction could well be the reason for the decrease in the amount of water in the subcutaneous layer.

    (By the way, diuretics are used in bodybuilding for "drying" in preparation for competitions to gain muscle relief by removing subcutaneous fluid.)

    3. Besides, in some experiments, the effect of yohimbine for weight loss may not have been in increasing fat burning, but simply in reducing appetite.

    4. And the strongest argument against it: not all available scientific studies speak about the benefits of yohimbine for weight loss.

    Negative studies of yohimbine's benefits for weight loss

    One of these experiments tested the effectiveness of yohimbine as a fat burner on 47 men for 6 months. A high dose of 43 mg per day was used.

    The result: lack of any fat burning effect of yohimbine. In this study, a large number of parameters were used to record changes, in particular, body weight, body mass index, body fat percentage, fat distribution, which was measured by the waist / chest ratio and using computed tomography [10].

    A similar result - proof of the futility of yohimbine for weight loss was obtained by researchers during the observation of 19 volunteers with obesity, receiving 18 mg of yohimbine daily for 8 weeks.

    But the fattest point was a large-scale study of the benefits / uselessness of various fat burners published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [9]: yohimbine, along with garcinia cambogia and mate tea, were found to be ineffective for weight loss.

    Moreover, the author of the study concluded: "there шs no reason to claim that any dietary supplements are really effective for weight loss."

    Let's summarize the interim result:

    Taking into account the above-described experiments, it can be concluded that yohimbine may have some fat burning effects, but it is obvious that very little (as well as all fat burners).

    In general, we should remember: no fat burner (pretending, of course, to be harmless to health) is not able to burn a lot of fat and quickly.

    The effect of really working weight loss supplements is always insignificant (they burn about 100-200 kcal, i.e. about 2-3 cookies).

    Yohimbine may have some fat-burning effect, but it is obvious that very little.

    Yohimbine: side effects and harm

    As we noted at the beginning, yohimbine is an alkaloid and, like all substances in this class, is a strong stimulant, with characteristic possible side effects.

    This is especially important to keep in mind if, to lose weight for sure, you want to combine yohimbine with other fat-burning stimulants, such as caffeine.

    The risk of side effects of yohimbine increases even more if you take any neurological medications.

    The main side effects, when taken at the recommended doses, are digestive and abdominal discomfort.

    One study of the harm of yohimbine mentions 238 cases of side effects recorded over a 6-year period [2]. Among them: gastrointestinal disorders, psychological state of anxiety, high blood pressure.

    The study also suggests that overall, the severity of yohimbine side effects is underestimated.

    High doses of yohimbine can have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system.

    One study notes that after taking a large dose of yohimbine, a 16-year-old girl experienced anxiety, headaches, nausea, heart palpitations, and chest pain. This condition lasted approximately 36 hours [7].

    During a bodybuilding competition, one of the participants lost consciousness and experienced seizures after taking 5 g of yohimbine. Poor circulation and neurological side effects were observed during 22 hours after ingestion [1].

    The problem with yohimbine side effects is mainly gross inconsistencies in the labeling of the dose of yohimbine on the packaging and the actual content of supplements: the actual content of yohimbine in weight loss supplements can vary from 25% to 150% of what is indicated on the package.

    Most often the cause of side effects of yohimbine is an overdose due to a gross discrepancy between its actual content in weight loss supplements and labeling

    Who can be recommended to take Yohimbine?

    We can't recommend taking any fat burners to anyone and are sure that this is a waste of money.

    Yohimbine is sometimes used in bodybuilding at the "drying" stage just before competitions, to further enhance the effect of other drugs and methods for getting rid of fat.

    For those who have any psychological disorders, it is definitely better to refrain from taking yohimbine simply because it is a stimulant of the nervous system.

    In the case of obesity, the decision to take yohimbine (as well as any other fat burners) is absurd, since overweight is a lifestyle problem, and it can only be solved by changing a diet; any other workarounds will NEVER really help to lose weight.

    If you take yohimbine for a long time, then addiction develops, and even the meager effect that exists disappears [13].

    In one study, laboratory analysis of the quality of 49 different yohimbine-based weight loss supplements showed that only 2 of them had the actual yohimbine content that matched the label. The range of actual values varied from 23% to 147% [5].

    In practice, this means that in some cases the dosage will be so low that there will be absolutely no effect from the minuscule possible effect that is shown in small experiments.

    If the dosage is significantly overstated, the risk of side effects of yohimbine increases significantly (although you think that you are taking the recommended amount).

    Let’s sum up
    • Yohimbine is an alkaloid (like caffeine) that can affect the nervous system. Alkaloids, as a rule, are curative in small doses and poisonous in large doses
    • Scientific evidence for the effectiveness of yohimbine for weight loss is not enough for unambiguous statements. A very small number of experiments show its benefits (and even then, scanty), but most of them - its absence
    • Yohimbine may have some fat-burning effect, but obviously very insignificant
    • Among the possible side effects of yohimbine: digestive disorders, psychological anxiety, high blood pressure; convulsions, and loss of consciousness
    • The most common cause of yohimbine side effects is overdose due to gross discrepancy between the actual content of the dietary supplement and labeling
    • Yohimbine is sometimes used in bodybuilding at the stage of "drying". For those who are obese, taking it is useless: without calorie restriction, nothing will help
    • The standard dose of yohimbine is 0.2 mg/kg of body weight. In most yohimbine-based fat burners, the actual active substance content is grossly inconsistent with that indicated on the label


    1 Giampreti, A et al. Acute neurotoxicity after yohimbine ingestion by a body builder. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2009; 47(8): 827-9

    2 Kearney, T et al. Adverse drug events associated with yohimbine-containing products: a retrospective review of the California Poison Control System reported cases. Ann Pharmacother. 2010; 44(6): 1022-9

    3 Zahorska-Markiewicz B, Kucio C, Piskorska D. Adrenergic control of lipolysis and metabolic responses in obesity. Horm Metab Res. 1986 Oct;18(10):693-7.

    4 Ostojic, SM. Yohimbine: the effects on body composition and exercise performance in soccer players. Res Sports Med. 2006; 14(4): 289-99

    5 Pieter A. Cohen, Yan-Hong Wang, Gregory Maller, Renan DeSouza, Ikhlas A. Khan. Pharmaceutical quantities of yohimbine found in dietary supplements in the USA. Drug testing and analysis, Volume 8, Issue 3-4 March-April 2016, Pages 357–369

    6 Ernst, E et al. Yohimbine for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. J Urol. 1998; 159: 433-436

    7 Linden, CH et al. Yohimbine: a new street drug. Ann Emerg Med. 1985; 14(10): 1002-4

    8 Galitzky J, Taouis M, Berlan M, Rivière D, Garrigues M, Lafontan M. Alpha 2-antagonist compounds and lipid mobilization: evidence for a lipid mobilizing effect of oral yohimbine in healthy male volunteers. Eur J Clin Invest. 1988 Dec;18(6):587-94.

    9 Pittler, MH et al. Dietary supplements for body-weight reduction: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 79(4): 529-536

    10 Sax, L. Yohimbine does not affect fat distribution in men. Int J Obes. 1991;

    11 Kucio C, Jonderko K, Piskorska D. Does yohimbine act as a slimming drug? Isr J Med Sci. 1991 Oct;27(10):550-6.

    12 Galitzky, J et al. Role of vascular alpha-2 adrenoceptors in regulating lipid mobilization from human adipose tissue. J Clin Invest. 1993; 91(5): 1997-2003

    13 Galitzky J, Rivière D, Tran MA, Montastruc JL, Berlan M. Pharmacodynamic effects of chronic yohimbine treatment in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1990;39(5):447-51.

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