African Pygeum (Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine)
African pygeum (Prunus africana), also known as pygeum africanum, pygeum, and African plum tree, is an evergreen tree native to higher elevations of southern Africa. A 150 ft (46 m) tall member of the Rose family (Rosacea), pygeum has been found to be useful in treating prostate problems, particularly benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), a condition affecting many men.
The tree's bark contains an oil with many active ingredients; waxes, fatty acids, and other less familiar compounds. Pygeum's principal biological activity is traced to a "phytosterol" compound known as beta-sitosterol. Phyto (plant) sterols are structurally similar to, but much less efficiently absorbed from the diet than, cholesterol. The biological strength of phytosterols, however, is similar to that of hormones; therefore, a very small amount seems sufficient to initiate a response. Pygeum's phytosterols are anti-inflammatory. Pygeum also reduces edema (the swelling caused by an excess of fluids), reduces levels of the hormone prolactin, lowers and inhibits cholesterol activity within the prostate. Prolactin, whose levels are increased by drinking beer, stimulates testosterone uptake by the prostate, reportedly increasing levels of a metabolite responsible for prostatic cell increases, dihydrotestosterone (di-hydro-testosterone), (DHT). Cholesterol is reported...
(The entire section is 1363 words.)
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