Herbal medicines and supplements are widely used nowadays because of their potential health benefits. They may also be given alongside standard medication to complement its effects.
Pygeum is one example, and it’s commonly used for prostate gland inflammation and urinary problems.
In this article, we’ll explore the health benefits, side effects, and uses of pygeum.
What is Pygeum?
Pygeum africanum, or simply known as Pygeum, is a herbal supplement extracted from the bark of the African plum tree. The tree is also called the African cherry tree, African prune tree, or Prunus africanum. It has been traditionally used as an alternative medicine for the treatment of inflammation, kidney and urinary diseases, and prostate gland inflammation.
There are several uses and benefits of pygeum that are supported by clinical trials and reviews. Here is everything you need to know about its benefits.
Health Benefits and Uses of Pygeum
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
BPH, or enlarged prostate, is a condition where patients experience uncomfortable urinary symptoms. It commonly affects older men aged 50 and above.
If you look up the benefits of pygeum, BPH is one of the most common results you’ll see. There’s a 2002 review published in the US National Library of Medicine that looked at 18 studies of pygeum in men with BPH.
The review notes that pygeum may be a useful treatment option for men with BPH who exhibit lower urinary symptoms. Although the reviewed studies were small and still need further research, the results showed overall improvement in symptoms, decrease in nighttime urination (nocturia), decrease in residual urine volume (the urine remaining in the bladder), and increase in urine flow.
Also, a more recent review of clinical studies of phytotherapeutic agents (plant-derived medications) for the treatment of BPH included pygeum. It showed evidence of improved urinary symptoms and quality of life. However, the review mentioned that the studies were small in size with different evaluation methods. Hence, further studies are needed.
Although it’s not considered an official treatment for BPH, pygeum is one herbal medicine for BPH with the most data to support its use.
The benefits of pygeum in prostate health and its symptoms are said to be linked to its anti-inflammatory properties. This is also the reason why its initial and traditional use was for various kinds of inflammation.
A 2012 study on pygeum published in the US National Library of Medicine mentioned some of its benefits including its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The review suggests that it can lower the rate of production of free radicals and oxidative stress. This helps with the inflammation in the prostate (prostatitis), kidney, and urinary tract.
The same 2012 study also mentioned that pygeum may potentially offer protection against cancerous prostate cells and therefore reduce the risk of prostate cancer. This benefit might also be linked to the use of pygeum in the prevention and treatment of BPH, as prostate cancer and BPH often coexist. However, more studies are needed to further establish this connection.
Reproductive Health and Sexual Function
Given that the benefits of pygeum in prostatic diseases, such as BPH and prostatitis, are supported by studies, there are claims that it can also improve sexual function and enhance libido.
The only data that can quite support this is the 1991 study that primarily evaluated the efficacy of pygeum in the treatment of chronic prostatitis. Since there is a high incidence of sexual disorders in patients with prostatitis, this research also opted to evaluate the improvement in their sexual behavior.
The results showed improvement in sexual behavior, however, it might just be linked to its benefits to prostate health such as the relief of inflammation, urinary problems, and other symptoms.
There are also supplements in the market that include pygeum as one of the key ingredients. These supplements offer benefits in prostate health such as an increase in seminal fluid and better sexual function.
Some sources also mention pygeum as one supplement that can help increase seminal fluid production, but more research is warranted for it to be considered a libido enhancer.
Pygeum Vs. Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is also one of the commonly used herbal supplements for prostate health. It’s usually mentioned alongside pygeum because of its common properties that may help in treating and relieving symptoms of prostate diseases. However, the answer to which is the better herbal supplement still depends on your primary concern.
In terms of studies in prostate problems like BPH and prostatitis, more studies support the use of pygeum than saw palmetto. Most data show that taking saw palmetto did not provide significant improvement in symptoms of patients with BPH.
However, saw palmetto has other potential benefits supported by studies. This includes prevention of hair loss and regulation of testosterone levels. The choice supplement will depend on your primary concern and medical history, among other factors.
How To Use Pygeum
Pygeum is taken as a supplement, and it is usually in the form of capsules. The recommended dose is 75-200mg per day. As with any other supplements, you should find the dosage instructions in the product information upon purchase. It’s also best to consult your doctor to find out the recommended dose for a specific condition.
With supplements, it’s important to choose a reputable brand because the FDA doesn’t closely monitor supplements for their quality. Also, make sure to carefully read labels and check with your doctor before taking a new supplement.
If you’re wondering how long it takes for pygeum to work, here’s what research says. Available data show that patients start to see improvements as early as 5 days after starting on it. Keep in mind that the results may vary. In clinical studies, it took up to 12 months before the maximal effect was observed.
Safety and Side Effects of Pygeum
Pygeum is generally safe and well-tolerated. It may still cause mild side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and headache. In most studies, the dose of 75-200mg daily was safely used for up to 12 months.
Bottomline: Benefits And Side Effects Of Pygeum
Pygeum is a herbal extract taken from the bark of the African prune tree. It may have numerous benefits on prostate health and inflammation. There is still much to be discovered about its potential uses and health benefits, but pygeum is considered one of the most studied herbal medicine for prostate health.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- NCCIH. (2022). Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and Complementary and Integrative Approaches: What the Science Says. Retrieved August 21, 2022, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/benign-prostatic-hyperplasia-and-complementary-and-integrative-approaches-science
- Wilt, T., Ishani, A., Mac Donald, R., Rutks, I., & Stark, G. (2002). Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 1998(1), CD001044. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001044
- Allkanjari, O., & Vitalone, A. (2015). What do we know about phytotherapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia?. Life sciences, 126, 42–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2015.01.023
- Larré, S., Camparo, P., Comperat, E., Boulbés, D., Haddoum, M., Baulande, S., Soularue, P., Costa, P., & Cussenot, O. (2012). Biological effect of human serum collected before and after oral intake of Pygeum africanum on various benign prostate cell cultures. Asian journal of andrology, 14(3), 499–504. https://doi.org/10.1038/aja.2011.132
- Carani, C., Salvioli, V., Scuteri, A., Borelli, A., Baldini, A., Granata, A. R., & Marrama, P. (1991). Valutazione urologica e sessuologica del trattamento della patologia prostatica benigna mediante Pygeum africanum ad alte dosi [Urological and sexual evaluation of treatment of benign prostatic disease using Pygeum africanum at high doses]. Archivio italiano di urologia, nefrologia, andrologia : organo ufficiale dell’Associazione per la ricerca in urologia = Urological, nephrological, and andrological sciences, 63(3), 341–345.
- NCCIH. (2022b). Saw Palmetto. Retrieved August 21, 2022, from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/saw-palmetto