Pygeum herbal supplement as a prostate cure and as an anti-inflammatory agent

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Pygeum the natural cure for Prostate Enlargement

For years, the bark from Africa’s evergreen tree, has been a favored treatment for bladder problems. The Pygeum or African Prune as it is sometimes referred to, can reach heights of 150 feet. It is found growing in the Afromontane (African mountain) forests across the entire continent of Africa and Madagascar at altitudes ranging from 4500 to 6000 feet. This unique tree is valued for its extremely hard wood and medicinal properties. The bark, leaves and fruit of the pygeum tree contain a substance called amygalin, which, when crushed, has an almond flavor. Africans often mix fresh leaves with milk to produce an almond-flavored drink.

Pygeum for treating "old man’s disease"

Although used by native cultures for centuries as an anti-inflammatory and a cure for such ailments as kidney disease, malaria, gastrointestinal problems and fever, it was not until the early 1700s that European travelers learned of the wonders of this towering tree when they encountered tribesmen who revealed its secrets. It was told that the natives ground the bark of the pygeum and made a tea that could soothe the bladder and treat “old man’s disease” as they called it.1

In 1966, a European patent was issued for pygeum bark extract as a treatment for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), an all too common problem among aging men. Backed by numerous reliable and positive studies, today pygeum is sold as Tadenan® and is the most recognized and widely used treatment for prostate problems in France.

Pygeum the for treating prostate enlargement

What According to the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau, it is estimated that more than 50 percent of all men age 51-60 will suffer some symptoms of BPH and that men who are in their 80s, have a 90 percent chance of having an enlarged prostate. And although BHP is not cancer, it is a situation in which the prostrate gland slowly enlarges, eventually narrowing the urethra opening, causing urine to back up, ultimately resulting in severe irritation and possible infections. In some cases it can also lead to cancer however, so treatment is essential.

Many trials and studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of pygeum. In fact, from 1966-2000 there have been a total of 18 controlled, or reliable, studies conducted in various counties. The overall results of these studies emphatically show that of the combined total of 1,562 men who either received the pygeum extract or a placebo, those who took pygeum were more than twice as likely to experience an improvement in symptoms such as increased urine flow (23 percent) and decreased nighttime waking (19 percent) and residual urine volume (24 percent).2

Active Constituents of Pygeum

It is believed that pygeum contains three important constituents which are responsible for its positive effects on BPH. First, pygeum is know to have anti-inflammatory substances, called phytosterols, that inhibit the growth and effects of prostaglandins, the hormone-like cells that signal other prostate cells to multiply. The most significant phytosterol in pygeum bark is Beta-sitosterol.

Secondly, pygeum contains chemicals called pentacylic triter-penoids, most notably, ursolic and oleanic acids, that not only have anti-inflammatory actions, but also increase the strength of the small veins and capillaries in the prostate, allowing for increased blood flow and elimination of toxins.

The third active component consists of fatty acids called ferulic esters, which prevent the absorption of cholesterol. Other studies show cholesterol to be the binding sites for dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone responsible for enlarging the prostate cells.3

Pygeum as a preferred anti-inflammatory agent

Studies have also compared the efficiency of pygeum compared to other herbs and drugs such as stinging nettle and prescription anti-inflammatories. Overall, although the studies were small, pygeum was considered the treatment of choice.3

Another study looked at the effectiveness of pygeum on patients with sexual reproductive dysfunction as a result of the BPH. This study involved 47 chronic prostate sufferers who received 100 mg of pygeum extract daily for 5 –7 weeks. Astoundingly, 89 percent of the patients experienced complete remission of symptoms.4

There are no severe side effects form pygeum, although some rare cases of diarrhea, dizziness and gastric pain have been reported. In fact, one study concluded that 100 mg daily of pygeum was within safe parameters,5

Pygeum is sold as a liquid and in dried, capsule form. The recommended normal dosage is generally 50 mg, twice daily but research shows taking 100 mg once daily is just as effective.

Pygeum the endangered species

Unfortunately, pygeum has become so popular that wild sources have almost been depleted, raising extreme conservation concerns. In the past, the majority of the trees were taken from Cameroon, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, once known as Zaire. Today, some commercial farming outfits have sprouted up, but pygeum is currently banned as an export and is listed with the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Ironically, considering the environmental impact pygeum harvesting has had on the species, it is relatively inexpensive and a 30-day supply can cost anywhere form $11.00 to $30.00 depending on the brand and other ingredients.

References:
  1. Simons AJ, Dawson IK, Dugumba B, Tchoundjeu Z, “ Passing problems: prostate and prunus”, Herba Gram 1998; 43:49-53.
  2. 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; 109:654-664.
  3. Andro MC, Riffaud JP, “Pygeum africanum extract for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a review of 25 years of published experience”, Curr Ther Res, 1995;56:796-817.
  4. Andro MC, Riffaud JP, “Pygeum africanum extract for the treatment of patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a review of 25 years of published experience", Curr Ther Res 1995;56:796-817.
  5. 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”, Urol, 1999;54:473-478.
  6. Paubert-Braquet M, Cave A, Hocquemiller R, et al “Effect of Pygeum africanum extract on A23187-stimulated production of lipoxygenase metabolites from human polymorphonuclear cells”, J Lipid Mediat Cell Signal, 1994;9:285-290.
  7. Robinette CL, “Sex-hormone induced inflammation and fibromuscular proliferation in the rat lateral prostate”, Prostate, 1988;12:271-286.