Pygeum Africanum, also called African Pruno, is a tree of the Rosaceae family that can even reach 30 meters in height which is found in tropical Africa, especially in areas with high rainfall.


Pygeum has elliptic, sharp, thick and leathery leaves; the flowers are small, white, pentamers, while the fruits are red leathery achenes. The Pygeum bark is red or dark brown, with a noticeable odor of hydrocyanic acid.

The Pygeum bark is the part that interests us particularly in herbal medicine: it contains phytosterols and other sterols and steroid intermediates, pentacyclic triterpenoid acids (ursulic, oleanolic and their homologues acylated with ferulic acid), alcohols (mainly docasanol) and acids fats of which palmitic is the predominant compound.

Pygeum and prostate: properties and benefits

The phytocomplex contained by the Pygeum bark, and primarily its phytosterols, has numerous very interesting and particular actions (Capasso, 2005):

  • inhibits the proliferation of prostate fibroblasts in response to growth factors, promoting the reduction of prostate size
  • anti-inflammatory activity (inhibition of the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase)
  • protection of the bladder from the deleterious effects of free radicals and certain enzymes
  • is an inhibitor of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that inhibits the transformation of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, an active metabolite responsible for the enlargement of the prostate

The protective effect on the urethra and bladder, the anti-inflammatory effect and the action of reducing the size of the prostate are all useful in contributing to the reduction of the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (stage I and II). Pygeum africanum extracts are also used in the treatment of prostatitis and prostate cancer.

Recall that prostatitis is a prostate infection. Prostatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute prostatitis: in case of acute prostatitis for prostatitis symptoms are fever sometimes very high, preceded by chills and accompanied by joint and muscle pain and severe urination disorders, need to urinate frequently with small quantities of urine both during the day (pollakiuria) that at night (nocturia), sudden and incoercible urge to urinate (imperious urination), burning or pain when urinating. The urine is often cloudy. In some cases it becomes impossible to urinate despite repeated attempts. There may be pain in the perineal or lumbar region.

Chronic prostatitis: in case of chronic prostatitis the most common prostatitis symptoms are perineal pain and urethral pain (spontaneous or after sexual intercourse), urination disorders, frequent or nocturnal urination, moderate pain when urinating.

Benign prostatic hypertrophy, on the other hand, is the most frequent benign tumor in humans and appears to be caused by a disorganization of the interactions between the stroma (supporting tissue) and the epithelium (glandular tissue) and their responses to growth factors, androgen and estrogen and involves an enlarged prostate gland, which causes difficulty with urination. For prostatic hypertrophy the most common symptoms are: dripping and poor quality of mitto, pollakiuria, nocturia.

Some scientific evidence

Arena D. et al. in the “medical progress”, 1987, regarding the lipo-sterolic extract of Pigeo, highlighted in the studies: a statistically significant reduction of the dysuric symptomatology, with a clear improvement in pollakiuria and nocturia; a decrease in imperious urination, urinary tract infections and urine bladder stagnation; a reduction in inflammatory swelling of the prostate and seminal vesicles.

A systematic review of 2002 (Wilt e coll. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 1:CD001044), relating to the clinical efficacy of the African Pigeo in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, revealed the existence of 18 randomized controlled trials, for a total of 1562 patients taking Pigeo for between 4 and 48 weeks. The review revealed a modest improvement in urological symptoms and urinary flow: nocturia was reduced by 19%, while urinary flow increased by 23%.

In a study published in PubMed entitled: “NBBS Isolated From Pygeum Africanum Bark Exhibits Androgen Antagonistic Activity, Inhibits AR Nuclear Translocation and Prostate Cancer Cell Growth“(Invest New Drugs, 2010) it turned out to be some active ingredients of the P. africanum bark , including the compound NBBS (N-butylbenzene-sulfonamide), acts as a specific antagonist of the human androgen receptor. In particular, it has been seen that while the human androgen receptor (AR) if activated by the ligand is known to control the growth of the prostate gland, the NBBS antihormonal activity inhibits AR and progesterone (PR) mediated transactivation, but not the human glucocorticoid receptor (GR) or the related estrogen receptors (ERα or ERβ). NBBS inhibits both the endogenous expression of PSA (prostate specific antigen) and the growth of human PCa cells (prostate cancer). Mechanically, NBBS binds to AR and inhibits its translocation to the cell nucleus. That’s why with its phytocomplex, Pigeo can be a real natural remedy for the treatment of prostate diseases.

From the study Phytosterol Pygeum Africanum Regulates Prostate Cancer in Vitro and in Vivo” (Endocrine 2007 Feb;31(1):72-81. doi: 10.1007/s12020-007-0014-y), the anti-cancer potential of Pygeum africanum was tested both in vitro (PC-3 and LNCaP cells) and in vivo (TRAMP mouse model) and it was concluded that Pygeum africanum, already widely used for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, has a significant role in the regulation of carcinoma prostate both in vitro and in vivo and therefore can be a useful complement for people at high risk of developing prostate cancer.

Pygeum supplements

Prostapygeum is a prostate supplement in tablets based on dry extracts titled Serenoa, Pigeo and Pumpkin and is gluten-free. You can find it here. For prostatitis effective natural cure, as well as it is natural remedy for benign prostatic hypertrophy. In Prostapygeum the dry extract of Pygeum africanum is titrated 15% in total phytosterols. Prostapygeum prostate supplement is effective with at least one month of treatment (better three months to also experience constant maintenance action). It has no side effects. It is possible to prolong the treatment for six months and then undergo routine tests and check the results. Pigeo seems to be, together with Serenoa, an inhibitor of 5-alpha reductase, as well as, for example, to talk about some known drug belonging to this class, Avodart, but the latter has well-known side effects.

The formulation of Prostapygeum is not accidental, nor the titrations of the ingredients. In this study, also published in PubMed, standardized extracts of Pygeum africanum, Serenoa repens (or Saw palmetto) and pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo) were taken into consideration: “Extracts From Pygeum Africanum and Other Ethnobotanical Species With Antiandrogenic Activity “(Planta Med. 2006 Jul). In particular, according to Capasso (in “Phytotherapy in a glance” and in “Phytotherapy: Rational use of herbal drugs):

  • the standardized extract of Pumpkin seeds is anti-inflammatory; releases the bladder sphincter at the neck level and at the same time exerts a tonic action at the level of the bladder muscles; it also appears to favor the decoupling of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) -receptor. Clinical studies (Friederich et al. 2000) show that pumpkin extracts alleviate the symptoms consequent to the enlargement of the prostate without however changing its size;
  • the extract of Saw Palmetto is reported for its anti-androgenic activity, thanks above all to its phytosterols. Serenoa is able to inhibit the proliferation of prostate cancer cell lines and human prostate cells obtained from prostate samples from patients with Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy in vitro; Serenoa is also anti-inflammatory (inhibits the enzymes cyclooxygenase, 5-lipoxygenase, cytokines) and has spasmolytic activity on the muscles of the urinary tract (urethra, prostate) which is exercised through a blockage of calcium channels and an antagonistic action on alpha1-adrenergic receptors thus promoting a reduction in resistance to urinary flow. Here the reference review. The German Commission E reports that serenoa can solve the urinary problems associated with stages I and II of the IPB.

In addition to the phytotherapeutic action of Prostapygeum or some pharmacological therapy, the sequoia bud extract and black currant bud extract can also be associated: they are the two preferred bud derivatives for the inflamed prostate.

African Pygeum: side effects and contraindications

The African Pigeo appears to be free of serious side effects. There are no known cases of drug interactions.

Dr. Laura Comollo

For any clarification or for more information Contact us.

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