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The pygeum tree (pronounced pie-jee-um) is a tall evergreen native to central and southern Africa. Its bark has been used since ancient times to treat problems with urination.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Pygeum?
At least 17 double blind trials of pygeum for BPH have been performed, involving a total of almost 1000 individuals and ranging in length from 45 to 90 days. 1 Many of these studies were poorly reported and/or designed. Nonetheless, overall the results make a meaningful case that pygeum can reduce symptoms such as nighttime urination, urinary frequency, and residual urine volume.
The best of these studies was conducted at 8 sites in Europe and included 263 men between 50 and 85 years of age. 2 Participants received 50 mg of a pygeum extract or placebo twice daily. The results showed significant improvements in residual urine volume, voided volume, urinary flow rate, nighttime urination, and daytime frequency.
We don't really know how pygeum works. Unlike the standard drug finasteride, it does not appear to work by affecting the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. 3 Rather it is thought to reduce inflammation in the prostate, and also to inhibit prostate growth factors, substances implicated in inappropriate prostate enlargement. 4
The usual dosage of pygeum is 50 mg twice per day (occasionally 100 mg twice daily) of an extract standardized to contain 14% triterpenes and 0.5% n-docosanol. A dose of 100 mg once daily appears to be as effective as the most common dosage of 50 mg twice daily. 5 There is some reason to believe that pygeum's effectiveness might be enhanced when it is combined with nettle root , another natural treatment for BPH. 6
- Bombardelli E, Morazzoni P. Prunus africana (Hook. f.) Kalkm. Fitoterapia. 1997;68:205–218.
- Barlet A, Albrecht J, Aubert A, et al. Efficacy of Pygeum africanum extract in the medical therapy of urination disorders due to benign prostatic hyperplasia: evaluation of objective and subjective parameters. A placebo-controlled double-blind multicenter study [translated from German]. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1990;102:667–673.
- Rhodes L, Primka RL, Berman C, Vergult G, Gabriel M, Pierre-Malice M, Gibelin B. Comparison of finasteride (Proscar), a 5 alpha reductase inhibitor, and various commercial plant extracts in in vitro and in vivo 5 alpha reductase inhibition. Prostate. 22(1):43-51.
- Andro MC, Riffaud JP. Pygeum africanum extract for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a review of 25 years of published experience. Curr Ther Res. 1995;56:796–817.
- Chatelain C, Autet W, Brackman F. Comparison of once and twice daily dosage forms of Pygeum africanum extract in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a randomized, double-blind study, with long-term open label extension. Urology. 1999;54:473–478.
- Hartmann RW, Mark M, Soldati F. Inhibition of 5 alpha-reductase and aromatase by PHL-00801 (Prostatonin), a combination of PY 102 (Pygeum africanum) and UR 102 (Urtica dioica) extracts. Phytomedicine. 1996;3:121–128.