In traditional African medicine, a tea made from the powdered bark of a tall evergreen tree (Pygeum africanum)is sipped to control urinary disorders in men. Today, pygeum is a popular herbal supplement in several parts of the world for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland that can cause urination problems. This harmless condition affects most men over age 50, commonly causing urinary problems.
Pygeum has been approved for treating mild to moderate BPH in Europe since the early 1970s. The bark appears to work by reducing inflammation, promoting urination, and ridding the prostate of cholesterol deposits that can occur with BPH. Symptoms of prostate problems may ease as a result. Pygeum’s use in treating impotence and male infertility has also been explored.
In Western countries pygeum is typically taken in tablet or tincture form. Look for an extract of the plant standardized to contain 13% (total) sterols. Pygeum is commonly sold in combination with other herbs believed to benefit the prostate, such as saw palmetto and nettle.