Origin: Southern Africa, Madagascar, Central Africa
Part of the plant used: Bark
Description: Pygeum is a large evergreen tree, growing in the higher plateaus of southern Africa. Traditionally the bark of the tree was collected and powdered, then drunk as a tea for genitourinary complaints. Recently numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the usefulness of a standardized extract of pygeum for prostatic hyperplasis, particularly benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).
Pharmacology: Pygeum contains three groups of active components: Phytosterols such as beta-sitosterol; pentacyclic triterpenoids, such as ursolic and oleanic acids; and ferulic esters of fatty alcohols, particularly fatty esters of docosanol and tetracosanol. The phytosterols, particularly beta-sitosterol are found in numerous plants and are anti-inflammatory, inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins. Beta-sitosterol has been shown to be useful in cases of BPH by helping to reduce the normally elevated levels of prostaglandins in these patients. The elimination of the excess blood and vasal congestion helps reduce the size of prostate adenomas. The pentacyclic triterpenoids also help inhibit inflammation by blocking enzymatic activity. They are effective anti-edema agents and also help increase the integrity of small veins and capillaries. The third active group, the ferulic esters of long-chain fatty acids, act by inhibiting the absorption and metabolism of cholesterol. BPH and other cases of enlarged prostate are characterized by containing abnormally high levels of cholesterol.
Active Properties: Pygeum has been studied in numerous double-blind clinical trials and found to be effective in treating a wide range of prostatic hyperplasis. Efficacy was determined by measuring the effects of extracts of pygeum on numerous parameters, including dysuria, nycturia, frequent urination, abnormal heaviness, residual urine, voiding volume, prostate volume and peak flow. Consumption of pygeum extract resulted in significant amelioration of symptoms, reduction in prostate size, and clearance of bladder neck urethral obstruction.
Historical treatment for:
Contraindication - Temporary side effects from taking the extracts, one such effect was gastrointestinal irritation -typically manifesting as nausea and pain in the abdominal region. These were the only slight side effects reported from the use of pygeum extracts in the clinical trials and they can be considered to be very minor side effects.
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