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18.03.2010


Bodybuilder in coma from overdose of yohimbine

Having problems getting really ripped? Whatever you're thinking of doing, taking enormous doses of yohimbine is not a good idea. Not convinced? Ask the anonymous 37 year-old bodybuilder that Italian toxicologists wrote an article about in Clinical Toxicology. The bodybuilders fell into a coma during a competition after taking 5 grams of yohimbine.

Yohimbine

Yohimbine
Yohimbine is the active ingredient in extracts from the bark of the African Corynanthe Yohimbe tree. The compound blocks the alpha-2-adrenergic receptors in the body. Pep hormones like adrenalin and noradrenalin have effect when they attach themselves to adrenergic receptors. The body monitors whether there is too much adrenalin circulating via the alpha-2-adrenergic receptor. The more adrenalin molecules that stick to the alpha-2-adrenergic receptor, the more the body reduces the concentration of adrenalin and noradrenalin. Yohimbine blocks the receptor, and thus raises the concentration of these pep hormones in the body.

In the late 1990s the supplements industry caught on to yohimbine as a slimming supplement. The bodybuilder had probably used the substance for this as well. Strangely enough the Italians didn't ask the bodybuilder why he had taken so much yohimbine. Two hours after taking the megadose the man had epileptic fits and fell into a coma. His blood pressure was too high and his heartbeat too fast.

You can see how much yohimbine the bodybuilder had taken in the graph below. Users usually take 15-20 mg yohimbine per day, but doses as high as 40 mg have been recorded. A dose of 15 mg will show up as a couple of hundred nanogram/ml in the blood. The researchers found over 5000 nanogram/ml in the bodybuilder’s blood. What's more, it turns out that the body gets slower at breaking the stuff down after 6 hours.


Bodybuilder in coma from overdose of yohimbine


This case is not unique. The researchers found more cases in the literature, describing how users got into problems after taking massive doses of yohimbine.


Bodybuilder in coma from overdose of yohimbine


This particular bodybuilder did survive the episode. The doctors gave him medicines to reduce his blood pressure and get his heartbeat back to normal, and diazepam to prevent further epileptic attacks.

Source:
Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2009 Sep; 47(8): 827-9.

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