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Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Index of Herbal Medicines, Supplements and Therapies
The decision to use products containing or claiming to contain pygeum should be carefully considered.
Pygeum (Prunus africana, Pygeum africanum)
Be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and dietary supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products containing or claiming to contain pygeum. Decisions to use herbs or supplements should be carefully considered. Individuals using prescription drugs should discuss taking herbs or supplements with a pharmacist or health care professional before starting.
Scientists have studied pygeum for the following health problem:
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (prostate enlargement)
Pygeum has been observed to improve urinary symptoms associated with enlargement of the prostate gland or prostate inflammation. Numerous studies in humans support the use of pygeum for reducing the frequency of nighttime urination, as well as urinary hesitancy, urinary frequency or pain associated with urination in men with mild to moderate symptoms. Although pygeum improves bothersome symptoms associated with prostate enlargement or irritation, it does not appear to reverse the condition. It is unclear whether pygeum is more effective or better tolerated than are other common medical therapies, including surgical approaches.
Pygeum has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially very serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care professional before taking pygeum for any unproven use.
Bladder sphincter disorders
Partial outlet obstruction
| Prostate cancer|
Urinary tract health
People with known allergies to pygeum should avoid this herb. Signs of allergy include rash, itching and shortness of breath.
Pygeum has been well tolerated in studies. Some people may experience stomach discomfort, including diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain or nausea. Stomach upset is usually mild and does not typically cause people to stop using pygeum.
Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding
Pygeum cannot be recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding because of a lack of scientific information.
Interactions with drugs, supplements and other herbs have not been thoroughly studied. The interactions listed below have been reported in scientific publications. If you are taking prescription drugs, speak with a health care professional or pharmacist before using herbs or dietary supplements.
Interactions With Drugs
Use of pygeum with other drugs commonly used to treat symptoms of prostate enlargement called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors such as terazosin (Hytrin) or finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) may increase beneficial effects. Pygeum may interact with estrogen.
Interactions With Herbs And Dietary Supplements
Pygeum may have increased beneficial effects for the prostate if used with saw palmetto
) or stinging nettle (Urtica dioica
). Combination products are available containing both stinging nettle and pygeum. Pygeum may interact with phytoestrogens.
The doses listed below are based on scientific research, publications or traditional use. Because most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly studied or monitored, safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients even within the same brand. Combination products often contain small amounts of each ingredient and may not be effective. Appropriate dosing should be discussed with a health care professional before starting therapy; always read the recommendations on a product's label. The dosing for unproven uses should be approached cautiously, because scientific information is limited in these areas.
There are no standard or well-studied doses of pygeum, and many different doses are used traditionally. Safety of use beyond 12 months has not been studied.
Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)
Capsules: For treating benign prostatic hypertrophy, 100- to 200-milligram capsules of pygeum extract taken by mouth either as a single dose or divided into two equal doses have been used and studied. Pygeum africanum (25 milligrams) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) (300 milligrams), when used in combination, was efficient in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy and its symptoms in one study.
Children (Younger Than 18)
There are not enough scientific data to recommend pygeum for use in children, and pygeum is not recommended because of potential side effects.
Pygeum has been suggested as a treatment for many conditions. There is research support for the use of pygeum for treating symptoms associated with prostate enlargement or prostate inflammation. There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of pygeum for any other medical condition. It is recommended that before taking pygeum for abnormal urinary symptoms, an evaluation should be conducted by a qualified health care professional to be certain of the cause of your symptoms. Pygeum should be avoided in pregnant or breast-feeding women and in children. Pygeum may cause stomach discomfort. Safety of use beyond 12 months has not been studied. Consult a health care professional immediately if you have any side effects.
The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.
- Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dedicated to research
Selected Scientific Studies: Pygeum
Natural Standard reviewed more than 100 articles to prepare the professional monograph from which this version was created.
Some of the more recent studies are listed below:
- Andro M, Riffaud J. Pygeum africanum extract for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a review of 25 years of published experience. Curr Ther Res 1995;56(8):796-817.
- Brackman F, Autet W. Once and twice daily dosage regimens of Pygeum africanum extract (PA): a double-blind study in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). J Urol 1999;161(4S):361.
- Chatelain C, Autet W, Brackman F. Comparison of once and twice daily dosage forms of Pygeum africanum extract in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a randomized, double-blind study, with long-term open label extension. Urology 1999;54(3):473-478.
- Choo MS, Bellamy F, Constantinou CE. Functional evaluation of Tadenan on micturition and experimental prostate growth induced with exogenous dihydrotestosterone. Urology 2000;55(2):292-298.
- Ishani A, MacDonald R, Nelson D, et al. Pygeum africanum for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis. Am J Med 2000;109(8):654-664.
- Levin RM, Riffaud JP, Bellamy F, et al. Protective effect of Tadenan on bladder function secondary to partial outlet obstruction. J Urol 1996;155(4):1466-1470.
- Melo EA, Bertero EB, Rios LA, Mattos D Jr. Evaluating the efficiency of a combination of Pygeum africanum and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) extracts in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial. Int Braz J Urol 2002;Sep-Oct, 28(5):418-425.
- Stewart KM. The African cherry (Prunus africana): can lessons be learned from an over-exploited medicinal tree? J Ethnopharmacol 2003;Nov, 89(1):3-13.
- Strong KM. African plum and benign prostatic hypertrophy. J Herb Pharmacother 2004;4(1):41-46.
- Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac DR, et al. Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia (Cochrane Review). Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002;(1):CD001044.
Last updated July 14, 2005
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