Pygeum africanum is an evergreen tree native to Africa. An extract made from the dark-brown to gray bark of the trunk has been linked to a healthy prostate in a variety of research. More than 30 clinical studies, including a dozen double-blind studies, have shown pygeum extract to be effective in reducing nighttime urinary frequency, helping start urination, and fully emptying the bladder. Pygeum extract has also been shown to increase prostatic secretions and improve the composition of the seminal fluid.
Problems With Current Prostate Cancer Treatments
Current treatment of prostate cancer often involves the use of antiandrogens—synthetic compounds that block the action of testosterone. These compounds have numerous side effects and are of limited long-term benefit. Typically, antiandrogen treatment is effective only for a about 16 to 24 months, after which prostate cancer cells become androgen independent. Different mechanisms seem to be involved in this process, but one thing that often occurs is that the antiandrogens can promote prostate cancer progression.
Pygeum may emerge as a significant protector against prostate cancer because pygeum extract and its components (atraric acid and N-butylbenzene-sulfonamide) inhibit the transfer of the human androgen receptor (AR) to the nucleus of the cancer cell—a different mechanism than that of synthetic antiandrogens. Both laboratory and animal studies show pygeum components inhibit both the nuclear transport of AR and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) expression, and efficiently repress the growth of both androgen-dependent and some types of androgen-independent protate cancer cells.
Papaioannou M, Schleich S, Roell D, et al. NBBS isolated from Pygeum africanum bark exhibits androgen antagonistic activity, inhibits AR nuclear translocation and prostate cancer cell growth. Invest New Drugs. 2010 Dec;28(6):729-43.
Quiles MT, Arbós MA, Fraga A, et al. Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of the herbal agent Pygeum africanum on cultured prostate stromal cells from patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Prostate. 2010 Jul 1;70(10):1044-53.