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Handle with Care: Popular Stimulants

Yohimbe: The Sexy Herb
The traditional African herb yohimbe is as controversial a stimulant as ephedra. In its extracted alkaloid form, yohimbine, it is used not only as a mood enhancer and weight-loss product but also as a male aphrodisiac. In fact, yohimbine hydrochloride in 5.4-mg tablets is prescribed by doctors to treat impotence.

Yohimbe enhances the stimulant neurotransmitters, dopamine and nor- adrenaline. As with other stimulants, it affects people differently. For some, there is a pleasant enhancement of the senses, an increase in empathy and communication, and enhanced sexual arousal. Men can have longer-lasting erections and powerful ejaculations. But others feel uncomfortably stimulated, with rapid heart rate, headache, anxiety, and insomnia. Yohimbe can also cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure.

The bottom line? Yohimbe appears safe for occasional use, with the proper precautions. It should not be taken by those with any cardiovascular condition.

Downside of Yohimbe
In susceptible individuals, it can cause uncomfortable overstimulation – rapid heart rate, headache, anxiety, insomnia, and a dangerous rise in blood pressure. Avoid liver, cheeses, red wine, nasal decongestants, and diet aids.

Contraindications
Yohimbe should not be taken by people suffering from any cardiovascular condition, diabetes, or heart, liver, or kidney disease.

Definite No's: From Smoking To Speed
The Tobacco High
Together with caffeine and alcohol, nicotine is one of the three most widely used psychoactive drugs in our society. With no redeeming value, "smoking will continue as the leading cause of preventable, premature mortality for many years to come," according to the U.S. Surgeon General. In 1997, smoking killed 435,000 people in the United States alone.

Nicotine, the primary stimulant in cigarettes, has a significant effect, even in small doses. In fact, nicotine is such a powerful toxin that one cigar contains enough to kill several people (and not just from the smell)!

If you have ever smoked, can you recall the sensation of your first cigarette? It probably tasted terrible, burned your mouth and lungs (if you even inhaled), and made you feel nauseated and dizzy. Those are some of its toxic effects in action. After a few more smokes, your body no longer rebels. In fact, you rather like it. In short – you're hooked.

Nicotine has a complex series of actions, both stimulating and relaxing. It is more addictive than heroin – and is often the hardest addiction to break. Nicotine stimulates the adrenals to release adrenaline, raising blood pressure and heart rate, and increases gastrointestinal activity. Nicotine also acts as a muscle relaxant.

In the brain, nicotine activates the release of dopamine, exhibiting a stimulant effect similar to that of caffeine. It also has a short-term antidepressant effect, though this is most often followed by a rebound depression. In larger amounts, nicotine acts as a sedative, probably because of its effect on serotonin. People trying to kick the tobacco habit describe the accompanying tension and irritability as "feeling like you want to jump out of your skin." They also often experience low blood-sugar problems, which leads them to overeat and gain weight.

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From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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