Pygeum is derived from the bark of an African evergreen tree, Prunus africana. Research has shown that Pygeum is anti-inflammatory and anti-edema, and of benefit to men with prostate gland problems. Pygeum bark contains three groups of active constituents: phytosterols (including beta-sitosterol), pentacyclic triterpenoids (including ursolic and oleaic acids) and ferulic esters of long-chain fatty alcohols (including ferulic esters of docosanol and tetracosanol). The Pygeum is standardized to contain 13% total sterols.
Pygeum contains three groups of active components: Phytosterols such as beta-sitosterol; pentacyclic triterpenoids, such as ursolic and oleanic acids; and ferulic esters of fatty alcohols, particularly the ferulic esters of docosanol and tetra-cosanol. The phytosterols constituents, beta-sitosterol and beta-sitosterone , particularly beta-sitosterol are found in numerous plants and are anti-inflammatory, inhibiting the synthesis of prostaglandins. Beta-sitosterol, the most important of the three, interferes with the formation of prostaglandins that cause inflammation and swelling in the prostate. Beta-sitosterol has been shown to be useful in cases of BPH by helping to reduce the normally elevated levels of prostaglandins in these patients. The elimination of the excess blood and vasal congestion helps reduce the size of prostate adenomas. The pentacyclic triter-penoids (urosolic, oleanic and crataegolic acids), also help inhibit inflammation by blocking enzymatic activity. They are effective anti-edema agents and also help increase the integrity of small veins and capillaries. The third active group, the ferulic esters (n-docosanol and tetracosanol), long-chain fatty acids, act by inhibiting the absorption and metabolism of cholesterol and combat enlargement by reducing levels of prolactin, a hormone which promotes uptake of growth-promoting testosterone in the prostate. Both prolactin and cholesterol increases binding sites for DHT in the prostate. BPH and other cases of enlarged prostates are characterized by containing abnormally high levels of cholesterol. Pygeum also inhibits protein kinase C-induced proliferation of prostate cells
BPH is a condition which occurs when an enlarged prostate begins to press upon the urethra, causing bladder discomfort and resulting in many unwanted trips to the bathroom. Approximately 50% of American men over the age of fifty suffer from this condition. The three compounds in Pygeum bark that actively combat BPH are beta-sitosterol, pentacyclic terpenes, and ferulic esters.
Beta sitosterol is a phytosterol which exerts an anti-inflammatory effect on the prostate region by interfering with the formation of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a group of hormone like fatty acids which tend to accumulate in the prostate of men with BPH. Penacyclic terpenes have a decongesting effect and also reduce swelling. Ferulic esters are constituents in Pygeum which work to reduce levels of the hormone prolactin and block cholesterol in the prostate. Prolactin is a hormone which increases testosterone in the prostate. Enzymes in the body convert testosterone into the more potent hormone dihydrotestosterone, a substance which promotes prostate swelling. The presence of ferulic esters in Pygeum prevents the over-production of these hormones.
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.