Common Names

  • African plum tree

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

Pygeum may relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), but its effects following long-term use are not known.

Pygeum extracts have been used in traditional medicines for prostate gland inflammation, urinary problems, and other uses. Several compounds present in pygeum may reduce inflammation by stopping the production of prostaglandins, which are indicators of inflammation in the body. These compounds may also work together to reduce testosterone levels in the prostate. Although several small clinical trials suggest benefit, larger trials are needed to confirm safety and effectiveness.

Purported Uses
  • To treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
    Several clinical trials show that pygeum is effective in improving urination symptoms in patients with BPH, but long-term effectiveness and safety are not known.
  • To reduce inflammation
    Laboratory studies show that chemicals in pygeum have anti-inflammatory effects, but human data are lacking.
  • To improve sexual performance
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
Side Effects
  • Nausea
  • Stomach upset
Special Point
  • When used for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), it may take several weeks to see any beneficial effects.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Brand Name
Scientific Name
Pygeum africanum, Prunus africana
Clinical Summary

Derived from the tree bark, pygeum extracts are traditionally used to manage lower urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) (1). In vitro and in vivo studies indicate that pygeum extracts have bactericidal and fungicidal activity (2), antagonize the androgen receptor (3), and have antiproliferative and apoptotic effects against prostate cancer cells (4) (5) (6) (7).

Clinical studies suggest effectiveness of pygeum (8) (9) (10) (11) and formulations containing pygeum and other herbs (12) to improve urinary symptoms associated with BPH. However, additional larger studies are needed to demonstrate usefulness of pygeum compared with standard treatments in current use for BPH.

Purported Uses
  • Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
  • Inflammation
  • Sexual performance
Mechanism of Action

Pygeum antagonizes 5-lipoxygenase metabolite production, and this action may contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects (15). Antimicrobial effects have been linked to inhibition of IL-7 mRNA expression (2).

The isolated compounds atraric acid and N-butylbenzene-sulfonamide were identified as androgen receptor antagonists, which play an important role in the development of prostate diseases (16).

Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of pygeum on prostate fibroblasts and myofibroblasts are due to downregulation of transforming growth factor B1 (TGFB1) and inhibition of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2)-specific signaling (6).

Adverse Reactions
  • ​Nausea and gastrointestinal upset (8) (9) (10)
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Abera B. Medicinal plants used in traditional medicine by Oromo people, Ghimbi District, Southwest Ethiopia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014;10:40. doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-10-40

  2. Papaioannou M, Schleich S, Prade I, et al. The natural compound atraric acid is an antagonist of the human androgen receptor inhibiting cellular invasiveness and prostate cancer cell growth. J Cell Mol Med. Aug 2009;13(8B):2210-2223. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2008.00426.x

  3. Boulbes D, Soustelle L, Costa P, et al. Pygeum africanum extract inhibits proliferation of human cultured prostatic fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. BJU Int. Nov 2006;98(5):1106-1113. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06483.x

  4. Shenouda NS, Sakla MS, Newton LG, et al. Phytosterol Pygeum africanum regulates prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. Endocrine. Feb 2007;31(1):72-81.

  5. Larre S, Camparo P, Comperat E, et al. Biological effect of human serum collected before and after oral intake of Pygeum africanum on various benign prostate cell cultures. Asian J Androl. May 2012;14(3):499-504. doi: 10.1038/aja.2011.132

  6. Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R, et al. Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002(1):CD001044. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001044

  7. Papaioannou M, Schleich S, Roell D, et al. NBBS isolated from Pygeum africanum bark exhibits androgen antagonistic activity, inhibits AR nuclear translocation and prostate cancer cell growth. Invest New Drugs. Dec 2010;28(6):729-743. doi: 10.1007/s10637-009-9304-y

  8. Kadu CA, Parich A, Schueler S, et al. Bioactive constituents in Prunus africana: geographical variation throughout Africa and associations with environmental and genetic parameters. Phytochemistry. Nov 2012;83:70-78. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2012.06.001

  9. 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. May 1994;9(3):285-290.

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