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    Top 5 Problem Dietary Supplements

    When natural doesn't always mean safe, and reading labels doesn't necessarily protect consumers.


    yohimbe plant


    Native to western Africa, the yohimbe is an evergreen tree whose bark contains the alkaloid yohimbine that is touted as a treatment for impotence and an athletic performance enhancer. It is also used to counteract the sexual side effects of certain antidepressants. (Man-made yohimbine hydrochloride is available in the U.S. as a prescription drug for erectile dysfunction; it cannot be sold legally as a dietary supplement.)

    Most yohimbe product labels don’t indicate how much yohimbine they contain. The amount and type (synthetic or highly processed plant extract) differs considerably among products, according to recent studies. This makes it difficult for users to know how much yohimbine they are ingesting, leading to potentially serious consequences.

    Taken in high dosages, yohimbe can cause difficulty in breathing, paralysis, very low blood pressure, heart attack, seizures, and death. Side effects of a typical dose include stomach problems, excitation, tremor, irritability, sleep problems, anxiety or agitation, and dizziness.

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