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What Are the Benefits of Taking Horny Goat Weed & Yohimbe?

by
author image Kelli Cooper
Kelli Cooper has been a writer since 2009, specializing in health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University and is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.
What Are the Benefits of Taking Horny Goat Weed & Yohimbe?
Yohimbe has been shown to increase female sexual desire. Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Yohimbe and horny goat weed both have a reputation for treating problems of a sexual nature.The active component of yohimbe, yohimbine, is an ingredient in a prescription drug for impotence. Yohimbe has more research behind it and it might prove effective for these purposes, while horny goat weed lacks reliable scientific study to support its use for any purpose.

Treating Impotence

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reports yohimbine is "modestly effective" in treating impotence -- studies looking at its effects found only 30 to 45 percent of men responded successfully. Drugs.com notes a meta-analysis of all studies conducted using yohimbine for erectile dysfunction found it worked better than a placebo, but as these numbers suggest, it does not work in the majority of men who use it.

Enhancing Sexual Arousal

Purported benefits of horny goat weed for enhancing sexual arousal include increasing production of testosterone and blocking the action of an enzyme that can interfere with the actions of neurotransmitters linked to sexual arousal. The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center notes that these claims do not have any reliable scientific backing behind them, and any evidence of horny goat weed working for these purposes is too preliminary to conclusively determine benefit for this purpose.



The UPMC notes that a study which found yohimbine, in combination with arginine, increased markers of physical arousal in women, but that neither substance produced any benefit on its own. It mentioned another study that found yohimbine improved sexual function in eight of nine people using the antidepressant fluoxetine, but the lack of a placebo group calls the validity of the results into question.

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Dosing

The dosing guidelines for yohimbe are based on the yohimbine content, and a typical daily dose will provide 15 mg to 30 mg of yohimbine . The amount of yohimbine in unregulated supplements can vary greatly, however, and it is sometimes hard to know how much of the active ingredient is actually present. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of using the prescription version, which will provide a consistent, standardized dose. The daily dose for horny goat weed ranges from 250 mg to 1,000 mg.

Interactions

Yohimbe might interact with tricyclic antidepressants, MAO-inhibitors, drugs used to lower blood pressure, methamphetamines, phenothiazine and bupropion. Whether or not horny goat weed interacts with any medications has not been established, but you should always check with your doctor about using supplements when you take prescription drugs.

Other Safety Considerations

Do not use either herb if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have liver or kidney disease. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center advises against using horny goat weed if you have any estrogen-sensitive disorders or cardiovascular disease. Other contraindicated uses for yohimbe include having ulcers or high blood pressure. MSKCC also notes individual reports of yohimbe causing skin eruptions, renal failure, lupus-like symptoms, neurotoxic effects such as seizures, and prolonged, painful erections.

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