The African cherry, Pygeum africanum , is a tree found at higher altitudes in Africa. Drug use dates back to the 1700s, when South African tribes first taught explorers how to use tree bark to treat bladder discomfort. Pygeum extract has been used in Europe to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia since the 1960s, and is currently the most commonly used therapeutically for this condition in France. Pygeum bark contains many beneficial components, including phytosterols such as beta-sitosterols, which have anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins in the prostate. Other Pygeum components include ferulic esters, which reduce the level of prolactin (a hormone that promotes the assimilation of testosterone into the prostate), and pentacyclic triterpenes, which inhibit an enzyme involved in inflammation and help reduce edema. Scientists believe that these phytochemicals work together to help counteract the structural and biochemical changes associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
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