African plum tree, Pygeum africanum
- Indications with possible efficacy:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia
- Risk of Drug Interaction: Low
- Adverse effects: Not frequent
Part of the plant used: bark
Pygeum is a large evergreen tree found in the higher elevations of central and southern Africa. It has been used to treat urinary problems for thousands of years.
Today, pygeum is found in a standardized extract form of 14% triterpenes and 0.5% n-docosanol.
Direction of use
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia:
It reduces the need to urinate at night, decreases the volume of residual urine and increases urine flow.
Used doses: 75 to 200 mg daily of a standardized extract containing 14% triterpenes.
- Side effects
Pygeum is well tolerated. Nausea and mild intestinal disorders have, on occasion, been reported.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Given the absence of available data (and the only product indication), pygeum is not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing.
- The use of pygeum is widespread in certain European countries and, as a result, has been intensively harvested. It is now considered a threatened species and its scarcity has driven up the price.
- To properly establish diagnosis, it is recommended that men consult a physician before beginning treatment.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2007
- Passeportsanté.net. Pygeum. www.passeportsante.net
- Medline Plus, Pygeum, medlineplus.gov, January 2007
- Rotblatt M. et Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine, Hanley & Belfus, 2002
- Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, 2000-2001
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
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