Pygeum is an extract from the bark of Prunus Africana known in English as the African Plum Tree and has become popular in the last decades due to studies showing its anti-androgenic effects.
The extract, the fruits as well as the bark of the tree have been used as a traditional medicine in Africa for centuries to treat different ailments such as infections and inflammation. Pygeum extract shows promise as a natural treatment for hair loss due to its DHT blocking effects. Whether its effects are due to its fatty acids, anti-inflammatory properties or the beta-sitosterol in contains (Stewart, 2003) remains to be researched further, but there are numerous studies showing its potential DHT inhibiting properties in patients suffering from an enlarged prostate and even from prostate cancer.
The authors mention that this particular mechanism is similar to the one of finasteride and could lead to developing a new similar drug without the severe side effects
Hair follicles in the scalp can be sensitive to DHT, which causes them to miniaturise over time, gradually making hair thinner and eventually causing baldness.
Androgenic alopecia’s pathogenesis is androgen dependent, meaning that the androgen receptor (AR) gene is one of the main culprits for its early onset (Hilmer et al., 2005). This may be one of the reasons why pygeum is an effective treatment for hair loss as researchers noticed that it inhibits the human AR, which contributes to growth of the prostate gland and to alopecia.
The 5 alpha-reductase (5AR) inhibiting mechanism is due to the isolated N-butylbenzene-sulfonamide (NBBS) compound in pygeum, which is a specific AR antagonist. (Papaioannou et al., 2010)
Cysteine, lysine and serine
A scientific paper (Cabeza et al., 2016) reviewed drugs used for androgen dependent diseases. Among them, Pygeum’s mechanism that enables the inhibition of the 5AR enzyme is based on the formation of an enzyme steroid complex with a nucleophilic part composed of substances like cysteine, lysine and serine. The authors mention that this particular mechanism is similar to the one of finasteride and could lead to developing a new similar drug without the severe side effects.
Pygeum and nettle
the best results were seen when they were used together
Pygeum is more effective than nettle. Nettle and pygeum combined are more effective than pygeum alone.
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Other studies seem to confirm these effects: when pygeum was studied in relation to nettle root extracts, researchers found that they significantly blocked the action of 5 alpha reductase and aromatase, which caused a decrease in DHT. When nettle root and pygeum effects were compared against each other, pygeum extract was the one showing higher efficacy even in low doses, but the best results were seen when they were used together. (Ghorbanibirgani et al., 2013; Hartman et al., 1996)
Pygeum compared to Finasteride, saw palmetto and Tamosuosin
Pygeum: 43.3% improvement. Finasteride: 57% improvement. Saw palmetto: 42.7% improvement.
In another study (Hutchinson et al., 2007), 2559 patients suffering from BPH and following a various set of treatments were compared with patients that were simply supervised without following any treatment. The treatments followed by the first group included: finasteride, saw palmetto, tamosulosin, and pygeum. After a year, there was a significant improvement registered for the group that received treatment when compared to the untreated group but the results varied according to the type of treatment received. Those who were taking a treatment involving pygeum had 43.3% improvement, comparable to the results for finasteride (57% improvement). Also, the patients that were receiving pygeum africanum had a slightly better improvement rate when compared to those who were treated with saw palmetto (42.7 %).
These studies confirm that pygeum may have similar, if not better effects than saw palmetto. This, however, also depends on the dosage and each individuals, as some might respond better to one plant than the other.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Besides being a 5AR inhibitor, pygeum is also a good source of antioxidants which may help nourish hair and protect it from free radicals. Various studies (Oktay et al., 2003; Steenkamp et al., Feng et al., 1995) have shown that the extract of pygeum has excellent antioxidative properties.
Studies on animals have shown that pygeum has a significant anti-inflammatory activity by decreasing the production of leukotrienes, 5-lipoxygenase metabolites and inhibiting fibroblast production. (Boulbès et al., 2006)(Quiles et al.,2010) Other studies (Cristoni et al.,2000, Stewart,2003) have also confirmed these anti-inflammatory effects. Since people with hair loss usually present significant inflammation of the scalp, pygeum could also be used as an adjuvant in hair loss treatments. Furthermore, these beneficial effects make pygeum a superior treatment to saw palmetto since it also reduces inflammation.
As for dosages, in most studies, pygeum is taken in two 200mg doses per day as a maximum dosage but studies have shown that a single dosage of 100mg per day or two dosages of 50mg per day have shown significant effects and are safe even after a 12 months of continuous usage. (Chatelain et al., 1999) The extract can be found on its own or part of a supplement either for hair loss or prostate enlargement, in combination with other natural ingredients such as saw palmetto or nettle root.
The side effects when taking this extract have been shown by most studies to be minimal and mostly include a mild stomach upset.
Read nextWhats the best shampoo for hair loss?
Best Pygeum supplements for hair loss
Below are what I consider to be some of the best DHT blocker supplements that contain pygeum.
Advanced Technology DHT Blocker with Immune Support
$36 for 120 Capsules
This is a superb all round DHT blocker supplement. Not only does it contain a powerful blend of DHT blocker ingredients; it also contains probiotics, which help improve intestinal health and support an alkaline PH level, which may be beneficial for healthy DHT levels.It also contains the amino acid lysine, which studies show, increases hair growth. This is a top DHT blocker supplement.
- Contains saw palmetto, which has been shown to reduce DHT levels
- Contains green tea, rich in polyphenols, which has shown great promise in fighting hair loss
- Evidence suggests nettle extract helps block DHT
- Studies show grape seed extract is beneficial for hair growth
- Pygeum extract is thought to be a stong natural DHT blocker
- Pumpkin seed is a good source of alpha linoleic acid, which may help reduce DHT levels. It’s also thought to be an anti-inflammatory, which may help promote hair growth
- Zinc is a mineral which is essential for hair growth and has been shown to have several benefits on hair health
- Contains green tea extract, which studies show reduces DHT and also contains EGCG which inhibits PGD2 — a major cause of hair loss
- Zinc (as Zinc Oxide) 25mgs
- DHT Blocker Proprietary Blend 1390mgs
- Saw Palmetto Berry Extract (Standardized to contain 45% Fatty Acids) (Serenoa repens)
- Green Tea Leaf Extract (Standardized to Contain 90% Polyphenols 60% Catechins, and 45% EGCG)
- Stinging Nettle Root (Urtica dioicia)
- Grape Seed Extract (Standardized to Contain 95% Proanthocyanidins) (Vitis vinefera)
- Pygeum Bark (Pygeum africanum)
- Pumpkin Seed Extract (Curcubita maxima)
- Immune/Digestive Proprietary Blend 525mgs
- *Lactobacillus Acidophilus (15 Billion/CFU)
- Grapefruit Seed Extract (Citrus paradise)
- Chicory Root 4:1 Extract (Cichorium intybus)
Hairomega 3-in-1 DHT blocker $20 for 120 Tablets
Hairomega’s DHT blocker not only blocks DHT but increases blood flow to the scalp using various polyphenols, which aid in further hair growth once the hair follicles are restored. There are even other beneficial vitamins in the pill for your overall health, making this supplement a fantastic option for a DHT blocker!
- Contains vitamins and minerals that support hair growth
- Contains several potent ingredients that are strongly believed to reduce serum DHT
- Contains quercetin, green tea, raspberry and broccoli, which are high in antioxidants
- Contains mushrooms and herbs, which may benefit hair growth
- vitamin e
- vitamin b6
- saw palmetto extract
- pygeum africanum
- red raspberry
- green tea
- cat’s claw
- tomato powder
- stinging nettle
- maitake mushroom
- shiitake mushroom
- quercetin dihydrate
- juniper berry
- uba ursi
- buchu leaf
- glutamic acid
- pumpkin seed
- burdock root
- cayenne pepper
- gravel root
- marshmallow root
- parsley leaf
Folliform DHT Blocker for Men and Women
$29.99 for 60 Capsules
Folliform DHT Blocker uses saw palmetto, nettle root extract, green tea, pumpkin seed, pygeum extract, and zinc oxide to help with hair growth. These ingredients form a natural DHT blocker, meaning that not only will your hair grow longer, but you’ll also only be adding all-natural ingredients to your body. Many users have seen not only hair growth, but improvement in nail health as well (which is just an added bonus!)
- All the ingredients used in this supplement are strongly believed to reduce serum DHT
- Green tea contains antioxidants, which may also be beneficial for hair growth
- Saw Palmetto
- Nettle Root Extract
- Green Tea
- Pygeum Extract
- Pumpkin Seed Extract
- and Zinc Oxide
Pygeum is an endangered species
Whatever product you choose, make sure that the pygeum is extracted from a responsible source; since the pygeum plant is an endangered species.
Pygeum africanum could be a potential treatment for hair loss due to its DHT inhibiting effects but also due to the fact that it may also reduce inflammation in the scalp. Further research is needed to completely understand the substance’s potential and efficacy but its effects are similar to saw palmetto and even superior according to one study, which compared the both. Fortunately, the extract is safe to take as a supplement so those suffering from androgenic alopecia should try it on its own or in combination with other treatments they are taking. As a precaution, always ask your physician before taking any supplements, especially if you follow other treatments.
Most importantly, make absolute certain you tell your doctor that you’ve taken pygeum supplements before having your prostate examination — pygeum is likely to effect prostate size and therefore may influence the result of your prostate exam.
- Stewart KM. The African cherry (Prunus africana): can lessons be learned from an over-exploited medicinal tree? J Ethnopharmacol 89 (2003):
3–13. Shenouda N., Sakla M., Newton L., et al. Phytosterol Pygeum africanum regulates prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. Endocrine. 2007;31(1):72–81. doi: 10.1007/s12020-007-0014-y. [PubMed]
- Wilt T., Ishani A., Mac Donald R., Rutks I., Stark G. Pygeum africanum for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2002;1:CD001044. [PubMed]
- Hillmer, A. M., Hanneken, S., Ritzmann, S., Becker, T., Freudenberg, J., Brockschmidt, F. F., … Nöthen, M. M. (2005). Genetic Variation in the Human Androgen Receptor Gene Is the Major Determinant of Common Early-Onset Androgenetic Alopecia. American Journal of Human Genetics, 77(1), 140–148.
- Schleich S., Papaioannou M., Baniahmad A., Matusch R. Activity-guided isolation of an antiandrogenic compound of Pygeum africanum. Planta Medica. 2006;72(6):547–551. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-941472.
- Oh B.R., Kim S.J., Moon J.D., Kim H.N., Kwon D.D., Won Y.H. Association of benign prostatic hyperplasia with male pattern baldness. Urology. 1998;51:744–748. [PubMed]
- Amoretti A., Laydner H. & Bergfeld W. Androgenetic alopecia and risk of prostate cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 68, 937–943 (2013). [PubMed]
- Steenkamp V, Gouws MC, Gulumian M, Elgorashi EE, Van Staden J. Studies on antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of herbal remedies used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;103:71–75. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2005.07.007.
- Boulbès D, Soustelle L, Costa P, Haddoum M, Bali JP, et al. Pygeum africanum extract inhibits proliferation of human cultured prostatic fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. BJU Int. 2006;98:1106–13.
- Quiles MT, Arbos MA, Fraga A, de Torres IM, Reventos J, 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;70:1044–53. [PubMed]
- Cabeza, M., Sánchez-Márquez, A., Garrido, M., Silva, A., & Bratoeff, E. (2016). Recent Advances in Drug Design and Drug Discovery for Androgen-Dependent Diseases. Current Medicinal Chemistry, 23(8), 792–815. http://doi.org/10.2174/0929867323666160210125642
- Ghorbanibirgani, A., Khalili, A., & Zamani, L. (2013). The Efficacy of Stinging Nettle (Urtica Dioica) in Patients with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Randomized Double-Blind Study in 100 Patients. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, 15(1), 9–10. http://doi.org/10.5812/ircmj.2386
- Hartmann RW, Mark M, Soldati F. Inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase and aromatase by PHL-0081, a combination of PY102 (Pygeum africanum) and UR102 (Urtica dioica) extracts. Phytomedicine. 1996;3(2):121-8.
- Chatelain C., Autet W., Brackman F. (1999). Comparison of once and twice daily dosage forms ofPygeum africanum extract in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: a randomized, double-blind study, with long-term open label extension. Urology 54 473–478. 10.1016/S0090-4295(99)00147-8