Pygeum Africanum

What Is It?

In traditional African medicine, a tea made from the powdered bark of a tall evergreen tree (Pygeum africanum)is sipped to control urinary disorders in men. Today, pygeum is a popular herbal supplement in several parts of the world for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland that can cause urination problems. This harmless condition affects most men over age 50, commonly causing urinary problems.

Pygeum has been approved for treating mild to moderate BPH in Europe since the early 1970s. The bark appears to work by reducing inflammation, promoting urination, and ridding the prostate of cholesterol deposits that can occur with BPH. Symptoms of prostate problems may ease as a result. Pygeum’s use in treating impotence and male infertility has also been explored.

In Western countries pygeum is typically taken in tablet or tincture form. Look for an extract of the plant standardized to contain 13% (total) sterols. Pygeum is commonly sold in combination with other herbs believed to benefit the prostate, such as saw palmetto and nettle.

General Interaction

There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with pygeum.


• Prostate conditions are often benign but should be examined by a doctor to rule out other complications, so don’t start self-treating yourself with pygeum or any other herbal medication without first consulting a professional. Signs of a prostate condition include trouble urinating and awakening numerous times at night to urinate.

• In rare cases, stomach upset and nausea can occur when taking pygeum.


Impotence 50-100 mg twice a day between meals or 1/2 tsp. liquid extract twice a day
Prostate Problems 50-100 mg twice a day or 30-45 drops liquid extract twice a day)

Doctor Recommendations
David Edelberg, M.D.

If saw palmetto is the king of herbal prostate therapies, pygeum, an extract from the bark of the stately African evergreen tree (Pygeum africanum), is the queen. Like saw palmetto, it’s immensely popular in Europe for bringing annoying symptoms such as urinary urgency and nighttime awakenings under control. It’s impossible to estimate how many African men sip traditional pygeum tea to ease urinary discomforts, but the numbers are probably impressive. Some sources now refer to Pygeum africanum as Prunus africana, or African plum tree. There is some concern that increased global demand will deplete the supplies of this tree bark. Sustainable harvesting methods need to be developed.


Just how pygeum works its magic is not entirely clear. It probably reduces inflammation in the prostate gland, promoting urination and clearing out any cholesterol deposits in the area. All studies indicate that this herb works differently than saw palmetto, so the cumulative effect of using both may be to your advantage. Clinical trials have found that men tolerate pygeum treatment well and that it’s most effective in cases of mild to moderate prostate enlargement.


According to studies, you’ll need at least 100 mg of standardized pygeum africanum extract a day; some trials used as much as 200 mg a day. Although pygeum is far from cheap, it’s certainly less pricey than prescription prostate drugs.


Although Pygeum is typically sipped in tea form across Africa, but in Western countries it’s commonly taken in the following forms: Capsules or tablets should contain a standardized lipophilic extract of the bark. Divide the daily dose, taking the first in the morning and the second at night. Combination products that include pygeum along with other prostate-healthy herbs, particularly saw palmetto, are relatively easy to find. My only reservation about such combinations is that the quantity of each herb might be skimpy. Remember that your goal is to match the dose used in the promising studies.


Always buy pygeum products in extract form. Look for a bark (lipophilic) extract standardized to contain 14% triterpenes and 0.5% n-docosanol.


Take pygeum in cycles of six to eight weeks, giving your body a break of several weeks in between. Important Note Most prostate conditions are benign, but you should always get a urinary problem checked out by a doctor to rule out other complications. Do this before self-treating yourself with pygeum. Keep in mind that it’s important to keep taking any prostate medications your doctor has prescribed.

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