What is pygeum?
Pygeum is an herbal extract taken from the bark of the African cherry tree. The tree is also known as the African plum tree, or Prunus africanum.
This tree is a vulnerable native African species. Its popular health effects and commercial overharvesting have hurt and endangered its wild populations.
Pygeum is such a sought-out alternative remedy due to the wide research supporting its benefits. Some evidence suggests that the extract may help with everything from prostate and kidney health to general inflammation. It also has some traditional uses.
Keep reading to find out what’s backed by science and what still needs further research.
1. It may help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
An older review, from 2000, listed pygeum as a top alternative remedy for BPH symptoms. The research showed that pygeum’s effects were moderate compared to pharmaceuticals, but nonetheless significant.
Researchers found that the extract helped ease the following symptoms:
This older research showed that pygeum was only effective at symptom relief — but more recent research suggests that the extract may help treat the condition itself.
A study in 2012 suggested that pygeum could help slow the growth of actual prostate cells. This may help prevent BPH from developing.
Pygeum remains one of the most research-supported herbal remedies for BPH. Still, further research is needed before calling it an official treatment.
2. It may help treat prostate cancer
Pygeum’s ability to generally reduce your risk of BPH may in turn reduce your risk for prostate cancer. BPH isn’t officially considered a risk factor for prostate cancer, but the two conditions often coexist. More research is needed to clarify any potential connections.
3. It may help treat prostatitis symptoms
Pygeum is also a popular alternative prostatitis treatment.
A 2014 study found that many prostate herbs, including pygeum, could effectively treat prostatitis. These were even compared to antibiotics. No major differences were noticed between pygeum (and the other herbs) and antibiotics in the study.
Pygeum may help prostatitis due to its anti-inflammatory and urinary benefits. It may help ease prostatitis symptoms similarly to how it helps relieve BPH symptoms. This includes urination frequency, night urination, flow, pain, and inflammation.
Still, more research is needed before it can be considered a prostatitis treatment.
4. It may help reduce general inflammation
This research suggested that pygeum may have some antioxidant activity. It downregulates oxidative stress and inflammation in the prostate, kidneys, or urinary tract. It may also help stop the spread of cancer cells, specifically in the prostate.
This could make pygeum extract great for curbing inflammation, strengthening immunity, and reducing cancer risk. Still, more studies are needed before comparing the herb competitively with better studied anti-inflammatory medications.
5. It may help treat symptoms of kidney disease
Because pygeum helps prostate urinary discomfort, it may help similar symptoms in some kidney diseases. The herbal extract is mentioned as a treatment in a couple of kidney disease research articles. These include a 2014 review and a 2015 study.
Pain, inflammation, frequent urination, night urination, and more are also symptoms of kidney diseases. Pygeum may help quite a bit with these. However, it hasn’t been shown to treat or get rid of any kidney disease directly.
Though promising, it needs more research before being considered an accepted treatment for kidney disease. More studies are needed to prove it’s a cure, or that it acts like a cure.
6. It may help treat urinary conditions
Pygeum’s benefits center mostly on the urinary system. This extends to its benefits for urinary or bladder conditions, too.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder infections, and more could be helped by pygeum. A 2014 review of herbs for urinary conditions mentioned pygeum as among the most notable. A 2011 study also found that pygeum stimulated bladder healing, though this research was done on animals.
However, studies have yet to prove pygeum treats these conditions. It may help symptoms and other related concerns, like pain and difficult urination. It isn’t known to cure or prevent infection.
7. It may help treat symptoms of malaria
Today, there haven’t been any studies evaluating pygeum’s usefulness in malaria. Pygeum also isn’t known to be an actual malaria cure.
Nonetheless, its traditional uses were most likely for alleviating malaria symptoms. Some of these were related to kidney and urinary conditions. Pygeum was also used to bring down fevers, another related symptom.
Though it does have historical use, pygeum isn’t recommended for the treatment of malaria. Having malaria requires medical supervision. Pygeum might possibly help with symptoms, but no studies currently support this.
8. It may help reduce fever-related symptoms
Much like its usefulness for malaria, pygeum is also a traditional fever remedy. The bark of the tree was used in some African traditional medicine for feverish conditions. This is mentioned in a 2016 review.
However, there aren’t any studies supporting that pygeum reduces fevers. Nevertheless, it remains a common home treatment for fevers in its native regions.
Studies are needed to draw any conclusions about pygeum and fevers. In the meantime, it isn’t recommended to use pygeum alone for feverish conditions. It might help fever symptoms, but it’s not proven to relinquish fever, nor cure what causes fevers. If you have a fever, it’s best to treat it in a more traditional way.
9. It may help treat stomachaches
Pygeum is sometimes mentioned as a stomach soother in texts. However, this use is based on traditional use and not science.
Research has yet to prove whether pygeum can cure stomachaches or gastric disturbances. As such, it can’t be deemed a reliable treatment. Still, it’s a relatively safe herbal remedy to try. But if you want research-based remedies, try these for your upset stomach.
10. It may help boost libido
Pygeum’s research-supported benefits to prostate health may improve the quality of one’s sex life. It can help relieve pain, inflammation, and urinary difficulties.
Still, pygeum needs more research before it’s called a libido enhancer of any sort.
How to use pygeum
Pygeum extract is generally taken as a supplement. The extract is made into a powder and put into pills or capsules. Supplements are available for purchase online or in health food stores.
To use a supplement, simply follow the directions on the product’s label. Directions may vary from pygeum supplement product to product, but so will quality. Supplements aren’t monitored as closely as drugs by the FDA for quality and purity so it’s important to buy from a trustworthy brand.
The average recommended dose is typically 100 to 200 milligrams per day, especially for prostate conditions. This is also the average amount used in most studies. The product you purchase should provide dosage information.
Make sure to read labels closely for any warnings or interaction information. It’s also always wise to check with your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Possible side effects and risks
Studies show pygeum is mostly safe when used correctly. In some people, side effects may include:
If this happens, you should decrease your dosage or discontinue use entirely.
You shouldn’t use pygeum if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Pygeum also hasn’t been labeled safe for children and shouldn’t be given to them. More research is needed to determine whether it’s safe in these cases.
You should always talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplement. They can help determine if pygeum will be a good fit for your health needs and discuss any potential risks. They may also be able to provide more information on dosage.
The bottom line
Pygeum has many traditional uses as an African herbal remedy. Research shows lots of promise for helping symptoms of BPH or enlarged prostate, as well as symptoms of kidney disease and other urinary conditions. Still, more research is needed to truly assess its effects.
Most of the conditions discussed have far better proven and more effective treatment approaches. Follow your doctor’s advice.
If you want to add pygeum to your routine, talk to your doctor. They can help determine whether pygeum is a good fit for your health goals and advise you on any next steps.