Scientific names: Pygeum africanum

Other common names: African plum tree

This member of the Palmaceae/Arecaceae plant family is native to the southeastern part of the US and West Indies and was used by tribes such as the Mikasuki Seminoles for making baskets, rope, brushes, and other useful items as well as for a food and medicine source. It has been used for at least 150 years in North America as a complete genito-urinary tonic for men as well as for some conditions in Women. Finley Ellingwood; M.D. wrote about these uses in his work called; The American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy in 1919. It was also given a nod in King’s American Dispensatory written by a doctor (Harvey Wickes Felter) and a pharmacist (John Uri Lloyd) in 1898. They mention its use for various respiratory ailments as well including laryngitis.


Immune Support, Men, Women, Urinary Tract Support


Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Taking pygeum by mouth reduces symptoms of BPH such as low urine flow. Taking a product containing pygeum, pumpkin seed oil, Epilobium parviflorum, lycopene, and saw palmetto once daily seems to decrease the number of times men with BPH need to urinate during the day and night [1].

Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia [2]


Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), nonmalignant enlargement of the prostate, can lead to obstructive and irritative lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). The pharmacologic use of plants and herbs (phytotherapy) for the treatment of LUTS associated with BPH has been growing steadily. The extract of the African prune tree, Pygeum africanum, is one of the several phytotherapeutic agents available for the treatment of BPH.


A total of 18 randomized controlled trials involving 1562 men met inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Pygeum africanum provided a moderately large improvement in the combined outcome of urologic symptoms and flow measures as assessed by an effect size defined by the difference of the mean change for each outcome divided by the pooled standard deviation for each outcome. Men using Pygeum africanum were more than twice as likely to report an improvement in overall symptoms


A standardized preparation of Pygeum africanum may be a useful treatment option for men with lower urinary symptoms consistent with benign prostatic hyperplasia. However, the reviewed studies were small in size, were of short duration, used varied doses and preparations and rarely reported outcomes using standardized validated measures of efficacy. Additional placebo-controlled trials are needed as well as studies that compare Pygeum africanum to active controls that have been convincingly demonstrated to have beneficial effects on lower urinary tract symptoms related to BPH. These trials should be of sufficient size and duration to detect important differences in clinically relevant endpoints and use standardized urologic symptom scale scores.

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Active Constituents of Pygeum 

Pygeum contains several groups of substances, identified and quantified according to modern scientific analytical methods. The most important constituents of the bark are triterpenes, saturated and unsaturated fatty alcohols and acids and their esters.

Parts Used


Additional Resources



Important Precautions

Not for use during pregnancy or lactation. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.


This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.