Pygeum africanum
Pygeum africanum Pygeum africanum

Pygeum africanum

The African plum tree (Pygeum africanum) is used as a herbal medicine. Find out more about its effect on a benign enlarged prostate.

Pygeum africanum

The African plum tree (Pygeum africanum) is used as a herbal medicine. Find out more about its effect on a benign enlarged prostate.

The size of the prostate often increases with increasing age in men. This benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, benign prostate enlargement) is harmless, but annoying. The bark of Pygeum africanum (or Prunus africana) provides a helpful, purely herbal remedy for treating the symptoms. Alone or in combination with nettle root extract, it ensures, among other things, that those affected need to use the toilet less often and thus have calmer nights. Find out more here about the treatment of prostate-related symptoms with the African Pygeum tree.

The name Pygeum africanum (African plum tree or African plum tree) already shows the origin of the tree: It comes from Africa, more specifically from South and Central Africa. The researchers Gustav Mann, Richard Francis Burton and Alfred Saker delivered the first botanical description of the tree in 1861 during a research trip to the Cameroon line, a mountain range in Central Africa. They also chose the name Pygeum. Since 1965, the plant has also been called Prunus africana.

The African plum tree is widespread in Africa. It is found in mountainous regions in almost all of central Africa, southern Africa and many African islands, such as Madagascar.

Old specimens of Pygeum africanum grow up to 40 metres in height, have a large trunk diameter and wide, expansive crowns. The bark is black-brown and cracked, with a characteristic rectangular pattern. The tree bears simple, elliptical leaves and displays inconspicuous, greenish-white flowers from October to May. The flowers form double-lobed fruits about one centimetre in diameter. Dian Fossey mentions in her research reports that the Pygeum fruits are highly valued as food by mountain gorillas.

A special feature of the plant are its extrafloral nectaries. These nectar glands lie outside the flower and produce a sugary juice. This serves as food for to insects that protect the tree from predators.

The plum tree bark is used for medicinal preparations. The bark contains β-sitosterol and various other phytosterols that are used to alleviate the symptoms of benign prostate enlargement.

Since chemical drugs used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia often have side effects, herbal remedies are good alternatives. In the case of mild discomfort and incipient prostate enlargement, extracts of the Pygeum bark are used in addition to nettle root and saw palmetto extracts. After all, more than three-quarters of all men over the age of 80 are affected by an enlarged prostate. As the prostate encloses the urethra, it exerts pressure on the urethra when enlarged. This results in difficulty urinating, a weak, trickling urinary stream or urinary retention in the bladder. Night-time urination can disturb the night's sleep.

The symptoms, physical examinations and possibly also the determination of the PSA value allow the physician to diagnose BPH. PSA is the prostate-specific antigen. With increasing age the PSA value often also increases in men. It may be related to prostate cancer, but may also relate to the benign enlargement of the prostate gland.

In African countries, the tree is traditionally used for a variety of treatments. The bark is said to fight fever and malaria, is used for the treatment of wounds and is sometimes used for abdominal pain and appetite stimulation. However, these effects are not medically proven. In this country, a standardised extract from the bark of Pygeum africanum is approved for the symptomatic treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Pygeum africanum bark extracts are used in mild BPH. Traditionally, extracts of the bark have long been used to treat men with prostate-related problems. Today, studies have proven its effectiveness in the treatment of the symptoms of BPH. However, Pygeum does not directly affect the prostate or its size. However, the phytosterols contained in it can make urination easier. The bladder can be emptied better, which prevents urinary retention (retention of residual urine in the bladder). The stream of urine becomes stronger, the urinary urgency less. In many cases, even nocturnal urination becomes rare.

The product Prostatonin® contains a combination of nettle root and the bark of the African plum tree. These two medicinal plants complement each other optimally in their effect and can gently ensure that prostate problems subside.

Please note: Even herbal medicines can have unwanted side effects. Please read the package insert and talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you require further information.

Modern herbal medicine

Modern herbal medicine (phytotherapy) combines centuries-old knowledge with the latest scientific findings.