“…the chemical and toxicological characterisation of yohimbe bark and its preparations for use in food are not adequate to conclude on their safety as ingredients of food, e.g. in food supplements,” the agency said.
“Thus the Panel could not provide advice on a daily intake of yohimbe bark and its preparations that do not give rise to concerns about harmful effects to health.”
But it noted, “An estimation of exposure to yohimbine from food supplements was performed showing that theoretical maximum daily intake may exceed the maximum approved daily dose of yohimbine from use as a medicinal product.”
It is on-market in supplements in markets like the US, although the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigated the sector last year and found only one of 18 yohimbe products met its label claims.
Ingrid Atteryd, chair of Food Supplements Europe (FSE), said a poll of its members showed little to no use of yohimbe.
"The outcome of this survey shows that in the vast majority of member states these substances are not allowed for use in food and food supplements,” she said.
“We have not received any indication that these botanicals are used by our members in their current product portfolio. As a result there has been no interest into data demonstrating the safety for food use of these botanicals. Our federations have no intention to conduct further work to try and have these botanicals accepted as ingredients in food supplements."
Yohimbe bark (Pausinystalia yohimbe) contains the active compound yohimbine, which is said to have sexual stimulant and aphrodisiac effects.
In its opinion EFSA observed: “Food supplements containing yohimbe bark preparations are available nowadays, especially via internet retail. Yohimbine, the major alkaloid of yohimbe bark and raubasine, another alkaloid occurring in lower concentrations in the bark, are used as active ingredients in a number of medicinal products for which adverse effects are described.”