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Pygeum (Prunus africanum, Pygeum africanum)

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Also listed as: Prunus africanum, Tadenan®
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Attribution

Related Terms
  • African cherry, African P. africanum extract, African plum tree, African prune tree, African stinkwood, alumty (Bamenda, Cameroon), bitter almond, bitteramandel (Kenya), ciruelo africano (Spanish), ferulic acid esters of fatty acids, gwabuzito (Uganda), gwane (African), gyabazito (Uganda), Harzol®, iluo, iron wood, kanda stick (Cameroon), kiburraburra (Swahili), kirah (Banso, Cameroon), kotofihy (Madagascar), lluo (Kom - Cameroon), mgambo (Swahili), mkomahoya (Swahili), mkonohoyo (Tanzania), mseneo (Tanzania), muchambati (Zimbabwe), muchati (Zimbabwe), mueri (Kenya), muiri, mutimailu (Kenya), Natal tree, ntasesa (Uganda), ol-koijuk (Tanzania), olkonjuku (Tanzania), phytoesterols, Pigenil®, Pigeum africanum, Pronitol®, Prostatonin®, Provol®, prunier d'afrique, Pygeum africana, red stinkwood, rooistinkhout (Afrikaans), Rosaceae (family), Tadenan®, tenduet (Kenya), umDumizula (South Africa), triterpenes, umkakase (Xhosa), V1326, vla (Oku, Cameroon), wotangue (Bakweri).

Background
  • The Pygeum africanum (African plum) tree is a tall evergreen of the family Rosaceae found in central and southern Africa. Its bark has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Traditional African healers have used the bark to treat bladder and urination disorders, particularly symptoms associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which is an enlarged prostate. Historically, the bark was powdered and used to make a tea, which was taken by mouth for these conditions.
  • The African plum tree has become endangered due to the demand for its bark to process Pygeum africanum extract.
  • The majority of trials conducted since the 1970s report improvements in BPH symptoms, including frequency of nighttime urination, urine flow rate, and left over urine volume, with the administration of Pygeum africanum bark extract. This research has led some credibility to the common use of this agent in Europe for BPH. The herb is less commonly used in the United States where prescription drugs or the herb saw palmetto is more commonly used.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Pygeum (P. africanum bark extract) has been observed to moderately improve urinary symptoms associated with enlargement of the prostate gland or prostate inflammation. Numerous human studies report that pygeum significantly reduces urinary hesitancy, urinary frequency, the number of times patients need to wake up at night to urinate, and pain with urination in men who experience mild-to-moderate symptoms. However, pygeum does not appear to reduce the size of the prostate gland or reverse the process of BPH. It is unclear how pygeum compares to the effectiveness or safety of other medical therapies, such as prescription drugs (eg. alpha-adrenergic blockers or 5-alpha reductase inhibitors), surgical approaches, or other herbs/supplements such as saw palmetto.

There is ongoing study in this area. Patients with urinary symptoms or BPH should speak with their healthcare professional about the various available treatment options.

A
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Aphrodisiac, bladder sphincter disorders, cancer, fever, impotence, inflammation, kidney disease, malaria, male baldness, mental disorders, partial bladder outlet obstruction, prostate cancer, prostatic adenoma, prostatitis, psychosis, sexual performance, stomach upset, urinary tract disorders, urinary tract health.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For treating benign prostatic hypertrophy, 75 to 200 milligram capsules of standardized pygeum extract taken daily by mouth either as a single dose or divided into two equal doses have been studied. One clinical human trial has shown that Pygeum africanum and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), when used in combination, were efficient in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy and its symptoms.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There are not enough scientific data to recommend pygeum for use in children and there are potential side effects.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • People with known allergies to pygeum should avoid this herb.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Pygeum has been well tolerated in most studies, with adverse effects similar to placebo (sugar pill). Some people may experience stomach discomfort including diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, or nausea. Stomach upset is usually mild and does not typically cause people to stop using pygeum.
  • Safety of use beyond 12 months has not been reliably studied.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Pygeum cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding because of a lack of scientific information and possible hormonal effects.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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