You probably know the old English proverb, “All good things must come to an end,” but in some cases, people work hard to prevent such occurrences. Take pygeum, for example.
Pygeum (Prunus africana) is a tree, found in some African countries, whose bark has been valued since ancient times by native populations as a remedy for bladder problems. Within the past half century, pygeum captured the attention of Europeans and Western populations as a way to manage symptoms of prostate disorders, such as prostatitis and an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH).
The good news about pygeum is that it has shown itself to be effective in relieving symptoms of both prostatitis and BPH. There is even some suggestion it may be helpful in the fight against prostate cancer.
The troubling news is that pygeum trees are disappearing. According to Peter Gachie, a scientist at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya, a country where pygeum trees are indigenous, the future of pygeum trees in their natural wild habitat is threatened by “unsustainable and unchecked exploitation.”
After extensive evaluation of the pygeum situation in Kenya, Gachie and his ICRAF team have recommended that “cultivating the tree on farms will assist in its regeneration, improve on its growth and regulate its harvesting.” He also stressed that educating people about the medicinal importance of the tree’s bark could spark interest and demand for its cultivation.
Besides Gachie and his ICRAF team, the pygeum tree also has another ally: CITES, which stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. CITES is an “international agreement between governments with the goal of ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.”
Pygeum trees are on the CITES list of endangered species, and any pygeum products with a CITES certification contain pygeum that has been grown on sustainable plantations by certified suppliers who must prove they practice sustainable methods.
That means consumers also can be allies to pygeum: choose a sustainable source and purchase pygeum with a CITES certification. The designation will appear on the label and is your guarantee you are not contributing to the exploitation of a valuable natural resource.
Mboya T. Threatened medicinal tree ‘should be domesticated.’ Science and Development Network: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/traditional-medicine/news/threatened-medicinal-tree-should-be-domesticated–1.html