African Pygeum Medicine

African pygeum (Prunus africana), also known as pygeum africanum, pygeum, and African plum tree, is an evergreen tree native to higher elevations of southern Africa.

A 150 ft (46 m) tall member of the Rose family (Rosacea), pygeumhas been found to be useful in treating prostate problems, particularly benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), a condition affecting many men. The tree’s bark contains an oil with many active ingredients; waxes, fatty acids, and other less familiar compounds.

Pygeum’s principal biological activity is traced to a ‘‘phytosterol’’ compound known as betasitosterol. Phyto (plant) sterols are structurally similar to, but much less efficiently absorbed from the diet than, cholesterol.

The biological strength of phytosterols, however, is similar to that of hormones; therefore, a very small amount seems sufficient to initiate a response. Pygeum’s phytosterols are anti-inflammatory.

Pygeum also reduces edema (the swelling caused by an excess of fluids), reduces levels of the hormone prolactin, lowers and inhibits cholesterol activity within the prostate.

Prolactin, whose levels are increased by drinking beer, stimulates testosterone uptake by the prostate, reportedly increasing levels of a metabolite responsible for prostatic cell increases, dihydrotestosterone (di-hydro-testosterone), (DHT). Cholesterol is reported to increase the influence of DHT.

BPH imlies two prostate changes: increased size and increase tissue density. These changes cause symptoms of frequent urge to urinate small volumes, reduced prostatic secretions, reduced bladder emptying.

Incomplete bladder emptying increases risk of bladder infections, edema and inflammation, and possibly, prostatic cancer. Blood sugar levels and immune function have also been found to improve. In summary, african pygeum’s medicinal actions include:

  • anti-inflammation
  • reducing edema of the prostate
  • inhibit cellular increase
  • improving the natural flow of prostatic secretions
  • lowering cholesterol
  • regulating insulin activity, thereby affecting blood
  • sugar levels
  • regulating the immune system

Although pygeum’s use is relatively new to the United States, it has been imported from Africa to Europe since the 1700s, and is still used today as a major treatment for BPH.

Europeans learned of this plant’s usefulness in treating what was then known as ‘‘old man’s disease’’. It continues to be widely popular in Europe as a remedy for BPH, especially in France where the use of African pygeum for BPH is reported to be about 80%.