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Pygeum

Health Benefits of Pygeum

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Updated June 05, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Pygeum (Pygeum africanum) is a natural remedy extracted from the bark of the African plum tree. In traditional African medicine, pygeum has long been used to treat bladder-health issues and urinary disorders.

Uses for Pygeum

In herbal medicine, pygeum is typically used in treatment of the following conditions:

Pygeum is also purported to act as a natural aphrodisiac, enhance sexual performance, and protect against prostate cancer.

Benefits of Pygeum

Pygeum may moderately improve urinary symptoms associated with BPH, a condition marked by enlargement of the prostate gland. Several studies show that pygeum can significantly reduce urinary frequency (the number of times patients need to wake up at night to urinate) and pain with urination in men who suffer from mild-to-moderate BPH symptoms. However, pygeum does not appear to reverse the process of BPH.

Pygeum has not been found to be useful in the treatment or prevention of any other health condition. Although research conducted on animals and in test-tube studies suggests that pygeum may also help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, there is a general lack of scientific support for pygeum's effectiveness in prostate cancer prevention.

Is Pygeum Safe?

Pygeum is generally considered safe. However, some users may experience stomach problems (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and nausea). Additionally, pygeum should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Learn more about supplement safety.

How to Use Pygeum

If you're considering the use of pygeum in the treatment or prevention of any health condition, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen. It's especially important to talk to your doctor if you have a medical condition or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements.

Pygeum is available as a dietary supplement and is also sometimes taken in tea form.

It should be noted that the African plum tree has become endangered due to demand for pygeum extract.

Sources:

Ishani A, MacDonald R, Nelson D, Rutks I, Wilt TJ. "Pygeum africanum for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis." Am J Med. 2000 1;109(8):654-64.

National Institutes of Health. "Pygeum: MedlinePlus Supplements". August 2009.

Shenouda NS, Sakla MS, Newton LG, Besch-Williford C, Greenberg NM, MacDonald RS, Lubahn DB. "Phytosterol Pygeum africanum regulates prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo." Endocrine. 2007 31(1):72-81.

Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R, Rutks I, Stark G. "Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD001044.

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