Scientific Name(S): Pygeum africanum Hook. f., or Prunus africana (Hook. f.) Kalkm. (Rosaceae)
Common Name(S): Pygeum, African plum tree
Botany: Pygeum is an evergreen tree native to African forest regions. It can grow to 150 feet in height. The thick leaves are oblong in shape; the flowers are small and white. Pygeum fruit is a red berry, resembling a cherry when ripe. The bark (red, brown or gray) is the part of the plant used for medicinal purposes. It has a "hydrocyanic acid"-like odor.
History: The hard wood of pygeum is valued in Africa and is often used to make wagons. Powdered pygeum bark is used by African natives to treat urinary problems.
Uses of Pygeum:
Pygeum has been used to improve symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy and to improve sexual function. Usual dosage is 100 mg/day in 6- to 8-week cycles.
Side Effects of Pygeum:
GI irritation has been reported with the use of pygeum.
Toxicology: In human trials, a low incidence of toxicity has been demonstrated as well. No side effects were reported in 18 patients taking 200 mg/day of pygeum for 60 days. Gastrointestinal irritation ranging from nausea to severe stomach pain has been documented but with only a small percentage discontinuing therapy. In 263 patients, GI adverse effects occurred in five patients with only three patients having to stop treatment. It is recommended that pygeum be taken only under professional supervision.
Summary: Pygeum bark has been used by African natives to treat urinary problems. In France, it is the main course of treatment for BPH. Most activity from the plant is found in the lipophilic extracts. Pygeum extract has decreased the incidence of many clinical symptoms of BPH including urine flow, difficulty in starting micturition and other bladder symptomatology. Pygeum may also playa role in anti-inflammation and cell proliferation inhibition in the gland area. Pygeum has increased prostate secretions and may improve sexual function. The extract also acts on the endocrine system, reducing certain hormones known to enlarge the gland. Pygeum has a low toxicity profile.
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