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Since May 10th 2008

Initial P

Paeonia lactiflora
Panax ginseng
Plantago afra
Platycodon grandiflorum
Piper methysticum
Polygala senega
Prunus africana
Prunus armeniaca
Plantago ovata
Pimpinella anisum
Passiflora incarnata
Psidium guajava
Punica granatum



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Prunus africana (Hook. f.) Kalkman (Rosaceae)

Pygeum africanum Hook. f.

Local names
African plum tree, African prune, armaatet, bitter almond, Bitteramandel, chati, inkhokhokho, inyangazoma-elimnyama, kiburabura, lemalan migambo, mueri, muiru, murugutu, mutimailu, mweria, mwiritsa, nuwehout, ol-koijuk, oromoti, red stinkwood, rooistinhout, tenduet, tendwet, twendet, umdumizulu, umkakase, umkhakhazi, umlalume

An evergreen tree, usually 10–25m high, with straight, cylindrical trunk and dense, rounded crown. Leaves alternate, 8–12cm long, long-stalked, simple, elliptic, bluntly pointed at apex, with shallow crenate margins; leathery, deep green and glossy, with midrib sharply impressed or channelled on upper surface and strongly prominent on underside; smell of almonds when bruised. Leafstalks and young branchlets often reddish. Flowers small, white or cream, fragrant, in axillary racemes 3–8cm long; corolla lobes up to 2mm long. Fruits cherry-shaped, red to purplish-brown, 8–12mm in diameter; very bitter flesh and bony stone. Wood pale red, with strong cyanide smell when freshly cut,darkening to rich dark red or mahogany-brown on exposure to air; straightgrained and even textured, strong and elastic, very hard and very heavy

Plant material used
dried trunk bark

Chemical assays
Qualitative and quantitative analysis for the major constituents, docosanol and b-sitosterol, are performed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Quantitative analysis of docosyl (E)-ferulate is performed by highperformance liquid chromatography

Major chemical constituents
The purported active constituents of a lipophilic extract of Cortex Pruni Africanae include docosanol (0.6%) and β-sitosterol (15.7%). Other major constituents include alkanols (tetracosanol [0.5%] and trans-ferulic acid esters of docosanol and tetracosanol), fatty acids (62.3%, comprising myristic, palmitic, linoleic, oleic, stearic, arachidic, behenic and lignoceric acids); sterols (sitosterone [2.0%] and daucosterol) and triterpenes (ursolic acid [2.9%], friedelin [1.4%], 2-α-hydroxyursolic acid [0.5%], epimaslinic acid [0.8%] and maslinic acid)

Medicinal uses
Uses supported by clinical data
Treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) stages I and II, as defined by Alken (e.g. nocturia, polyuria and urinary retention), in cases where diagnosis of prostate cancer is negative.

Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well established documents

Uses described in traditional medicine
As a purgative, for the treatment of stomach and intercostal pain

Proven pharmacological activity
Animal studies
Increase prostate secretion, Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Inhibition of cell proliferation

Human studies
Benign prostatic hyperplasia

In acute and chronic toxicity studies in mice and rats, no adverse reactions or fatalities were observed after intragastric administration of a single dose of a lipophilic extract of the trunk bark (1–6g/kg body weight in mice and 1–8g/kg body weight in rats). No adverse reactions were observed in mice and rats after chronic intragastric administration of the extract (60 and 600mg/kg body weight, respectively, daily for 11 months)

Cortex Pruni Africanae is contraindicated in cases of known allergy to plants of the Rosaceae family. It is also contraindicated during pregnancy and lactation and in children under the age of 12 years because of its effects on androgen and estrogen metabolism.

Cortex Pruni Africanae relieves the symptoms associated with BPH, but does not have an effect on the size of the prostate. If symptoms worsen or do not improve, or if blood appears in the urine or acute urinary retention occurs, contact a physician.

Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
A lipophilic extract of Cortex Pruni Africanae had no effect on fertility in male rats and rabbits at doses up to 80mg/kg body weight daily. No mutagenic or clastogenic activity has been observed in vitro or in vivo.

Pregnancy: teratogenic effects
See Contraindications. There is no therapeutic rationale for the use of Cortex Pruni Africanae during pregnancy.

Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
See Contraindications. There is no therapeutic rationale for the use of Cortex Pruni Africanae during pregnancy.

Nursing mothers
See Contraindications. There is no therapeutic rationale for the use of Cortex Pruni Africanae during lactation.

Paediatric use
See Contraindications. There is no therapeutic rationale for the use of Cortex Pruni Africanae in children.

Other precautions
No information available on general precautions or precautions concerning drug interactions; or drug and laboratory test interactions.

Adverse reactions
Data from clinical studies show that a lipophilic extract of Cortex Pruni Africanae is well tolerated in humans. A few cases of minor transient gastro-intestinal side-effects, such as diarrhoea, gastric pain and nausea, were reported in two clinical trials, and single cases of constipation, dizziness and visual disturbance were also reported.

Dosage forms
Lipophilic extract of the crude drug. Store in a cool, dry place.

(Unless otherwise indicated)
Daily dosage: 75–200mg lipidosterolic extract of the crude drug, in divided doses. To minimize gastrointestinal disturbances, take with food or milk.


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