Pygeum Africanum, also known as the African Plum Tree, is an African mountain tree whose bark is widely used in traditional medicine, and is of growing interest in several areas of Western medicine.
As a result of this, the tree has become endangered, as harvesters debark an estimated 35,000 trees per year, without leaving enough bark for the trees to survive.
The future of the species now depends on commercial cultivation, which is primarily driven medicinal demand.
Medicinal Use Of Pygeum Africanum
In the West, Pygeum Africanum became of interest to researchers of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), due to its use in African medicine for the treatment of prostate conditions.
Several clinical tests have shown that it improves symptoms of BPH in men, although this is still an area which requires further research.
The link with hair loss was made when it was found that BPH and Androgenic Alopecia (AGA) – the main cause of hair loss in adult men – share a common cause.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is associated with prostate growth and is thought to be a cause of BPH. The body’s testosterone is converted into DHT by an enzyme known as Type II 5-alpha reductase.
By using enzyme inhibiting drugs, this conversion can be prevented.
This is interesting to sufferers of AGA, as DHT is also a known cause of hair loss. For this reason the association has been made between the successful use of Pygeum Africanum in treating prostate conditions, and its potential use in treating hair loss.
What This Means For Hair Loss Sufferers
Although studies are yet to show whether Pygeum Africanum actually inhibits the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, it has become popular in the range of alternative treatments for hair loss. This is mainly due to several reasons:
- Dermatologists have proposed that Pygeum Africanum is a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor.
- It is a known antioxidant
- It is a natural alternative to synthetic drugs
Does It Work For Hair Growth?
The lack of clinical testing and scientific analysis of the effects of Pygeum Africanum means that there is no conclusive evidence yet of its effects on hair loss. There is, however, a growing body of anecdotal evidence, which claims that:
- It is a safe, natural alternative to finasteride
- It is effective in tonics when combined with saw palmetto
- It inhibits 5 alpha-reductase most effectively when used with nettle
- It causes minimal side effects (3% of trial patients reported a mild stomach upset)
How To Take It
There is currently no recommended medical dosage for Pygeum Africanum in the treatment of hair loss, although there is some guiding information:
It is usually taken orally, in the form of capsules or powder. There is a lack of evidence that it can be safely ingested by pregnant women, and therefore should be avoided by this group until further investigation has been carried out.
The maximum dosage of Pygeum Africanum for the treatment of BPH is 200mg per day, in two separate doses. There are few side effects associated with it, however, it is important that you consult your physician in order to minimize any associated risks.
The lack of clear scientific evidence supporting the asserted medicinal properties of Pygeum Africanum means that it cannot yet be proven to be an effective treatment of hair loss.
This, however, should not be a reason to rule out its use as such.
Its continued use in alternative and traditional medicine, in addition to its dissemination into contemporary medicine show that it has a lasting appeal as both a treatment for hair loss, and as a useful supplement to other medicines.
Perhaps the main appeal of Pygeum Africanum is that it is considered to be a natural remedy which is known to have few side effects.