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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.
Today, pygeum is primarily used as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) , or prostate enlargement. This use is supported by scientific evidence about as strong as that for the more famous natural BPH remedy, saw palmetto. However, saw palmetto is probably the better treatment to use. The pygeum tree has been so devastated by collection for use in medicine that some regard it as a threatened species. Saw palmetto is cultivated rather than collected in the wild.
Besides BPH, pygeum is also sometimes proposed for prostatitis, as well as impotence and male infertility; 1 however, there is little real evidence that it works for these conditions.
Pygeum appears to be essentially nontoxic, both in the short and long term. 2 The most common side effect is mild gastrointestinal distress. However, safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.