A to Z of Sexual History: Y - Yohimbe, old Viagra basically

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12 July 2010, 1:34pm

These days you don’t have to look far beyond your spam folder, but people have been eating, rubbing themselves and worshiping weird shit in the search for a longer lasting erection since time (or at least self-conscious men) began. Yohimbe is one of them and has been described as a combination between LSD, MDMA and Viagra, (basically the chemical composition of a party).

Yohimbe is found in a massive tree in West Africa dubbed the Love Tree. The inner shavings of the bark have been enjoyed by the Bantu speaking tribes for centuries, and used in pretty much everything from treating leprosy to facilitating week-long sex. It took the Europeans until the 19th Century to cotton on to it, with German missionaries returning to the Continent with tales of orgiastic rituals that would last up to 15 days lubricated with lashings of yohimbe. Then again, who knows what a missionary considered an orgy?

Early aphrodisiacs were pretty silly. Roman physician Galen (2nd Century) believed that anything capable of producing "wind" could also inflate the penis, which made asparagus, mustard, anise, nettles and sweet peas popular for centuries. Other early aphrodisiacs were foods that resembled genitals like oysters, cucumbers, bananas and rhinoceros horns. The theory was that God marked all food to indicate its purpose – dubbed the Doctrine of Signatures in the 16th century – therefore, rhino horns were clearly the equivalent of triple dropping Viagra.

It was thought that the genitals or sex juices of animals had aphrodisiac properties and the more obscure to find or complex the concoction, the stronger they were likely to be. For example, one recommended potion contained the brains of a cat and a lizard, the menstrual blood of a whore, human semen, the womb of a frustrated bitch on heat, the entrails of a hyena and the left skull bone of a toad. Yum.

With the introduction of yohimbe in the 1800s, suddenly there was something on the market that didn’t involve cutting up dogs or loitering around hormonal hookers with a cup. The bark was manufactured into love candies, which became a popular gift.

Their aphrodisiac effect wasn’t officially investigated until the 1960s by the US Food and Drug Administration when it was discovered that it was indeed potent when in the right concentrations and prepared correctly. It’s now on the roster of drugs to treat impotence, though ever since the advent of that big blue manhood pill, it’s become less popular.

In short, it increases blood flow to your dick, but is also a stimulant and mild hallucinogen. It starts off with a restlessness and slight lethargy like the early stages of acid, chills and warm spinal shivers, dizziness, nausea and eventually a relaxed inebriated high with slight hallucinations. Eventually the genitals become engorged with blood.

The pills you get in health food shops are a pile of shit, but if you can track down the actual bark in its pure form and take it either as a tea (one ounce of yohimbe to two cups of water), or evaporate it with alcohol into a powder and snort it, then it is meant to be pretty effective.

A young gentleman decided to give it a go and gave this pretty succinct commentary: “Yohimbe changes the meaning of the word orgasm. In short, the nausea was a bummer and sex was incredible.”

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