Pygeum has been used for medical purposes for years. For the Zulu people of Africa it was a famous remedy for benign prostatic hypertrophy, for the rest of the people of Africa and Madagascar was remedy for urinary-tract troubles, as an effective aphrodisiac, to treat men suffering from BPH, also for other different health problems. In Europe Pygeum bark has been officially used for these purposes since the mid-1960s.
Pygeum is a herbal remedy that contain extracts from the bark of the Prunus Africana (or Pygeum africanum) tree.
The mature tree is very high and very broad. It is from 10 up to 25 m high and with a round crown of almost 20 m diameter. The bark is black to brown and with fissuring in a certain rectangular pattern. Generally the bark is harvested only when it is full grown.
The name of the remedy comes from the name of the plant, which was discovered to botany by Gustav Mann during his first European exploration of the Cameroon Range. The expedition was held in 1861 with Alfred Saker and Richard Francis Burton. From that time Europe got to know Pygeum extract and its profound health virtues.
The evergreen treePrunus Africana is native to several regions of Africa. It is moderately frost-tolerant and requires a moist climate, 900-3400 mm annual rainfall. The tree now is mainly used for Pygeum extracts (meaning for collecting the bark). This has resulted in becoming the Prunus Africana endangered, as some harvesters removed too much of the mature tree’s bark in an unsustainable manner. In 1998 it was even reported that the tree was a threatened species. Because of this fact the additional trees became to be cultivated for medical uses only.
Pygeum is available on the market in the form of Pygeum extracts. This is a certain specialized formula which contains the extract combined with synergistic nutrients in a base of Pumpkin seed oil. It often includes beta-sitosterol, other plant estrogens, triterpenes, and certain compounds known as ferulic acids. It is designed not only for prostate health promotion, but for erectile good functioning and for increasing sexual desire as well.
Some herbal remedies are offered to the market in combination with other herbs. For example for prostate problems the extracts are available together with saw palmetto, and several other herbs and nutrients. In needed combination it gives even better result.
Bark extract is marketed under the different brand-names (for examples in France it’s Tadenan, in Italy it’sPygenil). Tadenan is the most popular. If it is not available on store shelves (as in the US) it is available from the Internet sources.
The active constituents of Pygeum are different lipid-soluble compounds:
· phytosterols (e.g., beta-sitosterol) – have anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins in the prostate
· 14% triterpenes (oleanolic, crataegolic, and ursolic acids) - have anti-edema and anti-inflammatory properties (they reduce intraprostatic prostaglandin formation)
· ferulic acid nesters of long-chain fatty alcohols (N-docosanol and N-tetracosanol ) – it reduces prolactin levels (prolactin increases the uptake of testosterone by the prostate) and blocks the accumulation of cholesterol in the prostate
Although Pygeum's exact mechanism of action is still unclear, in animal studies it gives positive results. Pygeum:
· modulates bladder contractility by reducing the sensitivity of the bladder to electrical stimulation, , adenosine triphosphate, phenylephrine, and carbachol
· has an anti-inflammatory properties – it decreases the production of leukotrienes and other 5-lipoxygenase metabolites
· increases adrenal androgen secretion
· inhibits fibroblast production (that plays an important role in the development of BPH)
· restores the secretory activity of prostate and bulbourethral epithelium
· it can restore acid phosphatase activity and total protein secretion (in patients with abnormally low prostatic acid phosphatase activity)
· promotes estrogenic and antiestrogenic activity
· may even reduce the ability of both prostate cancer cells and BPH cells to divide into new cells
In Germany, France, Italy, the United States and other countries Pygeum is a very popular (and rather effective) prostate supporter. And as a herbal remedy unlike Saw palmetto extract (that is mainly used to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate) Pygeum is more effective in the very beginning as well as for alleviating some of the discomfort caused by inflammation in patients suffering from BPH and for relieving the symptoms of prostate cancer.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic hypertrophy(BPH) is a non-cancerous tissue growth of the prostate. For most men, BPH is a normal part of aging. Practically all men as they age experience an enlargement of the prostate. Early symptoms are shown after the age of 40. Both BPH and prostate cancer can cause the prostate to grow larger. It will lead to some health problems, the common of them are prolonged dribbling after urination, inability to completely empty the bladder, a decrease in the strength of the urinary stream and problem with ejaculation. Other symptoms can be rather irritative: urgency and urge incontinence, dysuria, and increased frequency during the day and at night. 80 % of men over 60 have DPH. The difficulty with ejaculation is itself a very serious problem for men.
All the constituents of Pygeum play an important role in alleviating the symptoms of BPH and of prostate cancer (as it was shown above). Pygeum also supports healthy bladder function for regular and complete urination.
In some other animal studies Pygeum africanum has shown good result in treating of male infertility (it increases the amount and activity of semen that possibly alleviates some causes of this condition). Some researches indicate that Pygeum may be moderately effective in stimulating hair growth. For some reason Pygeum historically was used to treat fever,stomach ache, and "madness", but no clinical evidence supports these uses.
Mind that for the good (and safe) result the recommended dose of Pygeum (on the basis of the clinical studies) is 100-200 mg of an extract that is standardized to a 14% content of sterols. It you have found Pygeum not in the form of extracts, but in form of dried bark, then it is used in dosages of 5-20 g twice daily (but the bark itself is not recommended).
Some side effects are rare, but still deserve to be mentioned. The most common effect (reported by up to 3% of patients in clinical trials) is gastrointestinal upset. As for the drug interaction – no contraindications are known to exist.
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