Researchers are testing out yohimbe, a chemical derived from the bark of an African tree, to treat sleep apnea, reports The Huffington Post.

The yohimbine stops the tongue from relaxing during sleep, preventing it from falling back and blocking the airway in the throat, study author Chi-Sang Poon told The Huffington Post.

“Yohimbine reactivated the nerve impulses to the tongue,” said Poon, who is a research scientist in Health Sciences and Technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As a dietary supplement, yohimbine has long been used to treat erectile dysfunction, as an aphrodisiac and as a performance enhancer for body builders. These supplements claim to increased energy and speeds up fat loss ? but supplements are not regulated, so these formulations of the chemical are not approved by the FDA for any of these purposes.

This study is the first time that researchers are aware of that the chemical has been used to help to treat sleep apnea, Poon said.

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