Pygeum and saw palmetto are supplements used for prostate health. As men age, the prostate gland can enlarge, constricting the urethra and blocking the flow of urine. Numerous studies have indicated that the berry-like fruit of the saw palmetto and the bark of the pygeum tree are effective in reducing swelling and inflammation in the prostate. Pygeum and saw palmetto act to alleviate the pressure on the urethra, allowing a more normal flow of urine.
Saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to the coastal regions of the southeast United States. The pulp of the fruit has been used as a tonic since the 19th century to strengthen the body and is primarily used today to benefit the prostate gland. It has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties, making it effective for the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
The effectiveness of saw palmetto supplements in reducing enlargement of the prostate has been demonstrated in clinical trials. Although it is prescribed for enlarged prostate in some countries, in others it is available as a supplement and sold over-the-counter. The exact method of its workings is not fully understood. Some research indicates that components in saw palmetto may reduce negative effects of hormones in the prostate. Its diuretic actions increase the flow of urine.
Native to Africa, the pygeum tree is a small evergreen. The bark of the tree is harvested and used primarily for alleviating the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. There is some concern that the tree may become endangered in the wild, and shortages have led to the development of commercial tree farming. Until this is fully established, some herbalists recommend using pygeum only after other herbs have been unsuccessfully tried.
Clinical trials have shown that the pygeum bark extract provides positive benefits for an enlarged prostate. It is prescribed for the condition in some countries while in others it is available as a dietary supplement. The bark extract appears to function by increasing the gland’s secretions, reducing cholesterol in the gland and by blocking the negative effects of testosterone on the prostate.
Taking pygeum and saw palmetto together along with other nutrients and herbs can help reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Additional supplements that are recommended are stinging nettle, horsetail and pumpkin seeds. Many herbs having diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties are also used. Nutrients found useful include zinc, selenium, omega-3 essential fatty acids and the red pigment in tomatoes and other fruits, which is called lycopene.
Prostate enlargement generally begins affecting men in their 40s. Symptoms include difficulty urinating, feeling pressure and frequent urges to urinate. Nighttime trips to the bathroom may also increase. Prostate enlargement not caused by cancer or inflammation due to infection is referred to as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Both pygeum and saw palmetto are recommended as preventative supplements as well as effective treatment alternatives.