Pygeum africanum is the bark of an evergreen tree native to certain regions of Africa. Generally the bark is not harvested until the tree is full grown but current demand has suppliers harvesting even young trees.
The bark contains three groups of active constituents: phytosterols (such as beta-sitosterol), pentacyclic triterpenoids (including ursolic and oleaic acids) and ferulic esters of long-chain fatty alcohols (including ferulic esters of docosanol and tetracosanol).
It is considered by the European medical community as a safe and natural remedy for benign prostate hyperplasia or BPH, a non-cancerous growth of prostate tissue which can cause urination problems.
2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
There are numerous clinical studies showing Pygeum to be useful and effective in treating BPH and possibly even prostate cancer. It has also been studied as a substance to prevent lipid peroxidation.
Pygeum is also used to help the flow of urine in men with BPH. It is thought that Pygeum might work by interfering with the receptor sights for DHT, the main culprit leading to BPH.
It has also been used in treating impotence and male infertility but these uses are less studied.
3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Generally it is used as a precautionary device in preventing BPH in men over 50. As noted above, it is also used by men who are already experiencing BPH. There are no deficiency symptoms.
4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
Often times it is sold as a liquid tincture or in combination with other herbs such as saw palmetto and nettle leaves. It is best to get a Pygeum supplement that is standardized for total sterol content.
The most common dosage seems to be 50-100mg of extract standardized to 13% total sterols twice per day. There are no known drug interactions but on some rare occasions, nausea can occur while taking Pygeum.
5. Where can I get it?
It can usually be found in most natural health stores.