Pygeum africanum is an evergreen tree found in the higher elevations of Africa. The powdered bark is used as a tea for relief of urinary disorders in African herbal medicine. Laboratory investigations into the active constituents in the bark led to the development of the modern lipophilic (fat-soluble) extract used today.

Clinical Applications

Pygeum is used primarily for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

Reduces symptoms and signs of prostate enlargement, especially in early cases.
Modest reduction in prostate size and residual urine volume.
Statistically superior to placebo in reducing BPH
Demonstrates improvement in objective parameters of prostate enlargement.

How Does It Work?

Pygeum contains pentacyclic triterpenes, sterolic triterpenes, fatty acids, ferulic acid esters.

  • Lipophilic constituents have highest activity.
  • Medicinal effects arise from synergistic complementary effects of constituents.
  • Improves quantity and quality of prostate secretions
  • Ferulic acid esters (e.g., with docosanol)
    • Reduce levels of leutinizing hormone (LH) and testosterone (T) and increase adrenal steroid secretion of androgens and corticosteroids in lab animals.
    • Reduce serum prolactin levels, thereby reducing uptake of testosterone and synthesis of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in prostate cells observed in BPH. Esterification of docosanol with ferulic acid increases bioavailability and activity.
  • Decreases cholesterol levels within prostate tissue, lowering risk of tissue degeneration by cholesterol metabolites.
  • Sterolic constituents
    • Compete with testosterone, inhibiting its build-up in the prostate.
    • Reduce prostate inflammation by inhibiting synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins within prostate tissue.
  • Pentacyclic triterpenes
    • Display anti-inflammatory effects within the prostate.
    • May stimulate secretory cells of the prostate, seminal vesicles, and bulbo-urethral glands
  • Fatty acids of Pygeum may have effects similar to those of saw palmetto.


Lipophilic pygeum extract standardized to contain 14% triterpenes including beta-sitosterol and 0.5% n-docosanol : 100–200mg QD in divided doses.

Side Effects

Side effects from the lipophilic extract of pygeum africanum are rare. In clinical trials, there have been reports of mild gastrointestinal upset in some men. Side effects rarely result in discontinuation of therapy.