Single Or Double Dose?

Q: My husband has been taking an herbal extract called pygeum for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) twice a day, and he says it has relieved some of his symptoms. I'm wondering, would it be just as effective if he took it all in one dose?

A: How much to take of a particular herb or herb extract, and when, are important considerations. While some compounds need to be at a consistent level in the bloodstream throughout the day to achieve the intended effect, others do not.

Pygeum (Pygeum africanum), an herbal extract from the bark of the African plum tree, is indeed recommended for BPH. In studies, pygeum has compared favorably to the better-known saw palmetto (Serenoa repens).

With pygeum, a recent study showed that taking 100 mg of the standardized extract once a day proved to be equally as efficacious as 50 mg twice a day. So, in this case, the convenience of once-a-day dosing does not compromise efficacy.

However, this is not the case with all remedies (aspirin, for instance). Even the right medicine doesn't do any good if not taken as specified.

Dan Lukaczer, ND, is director of clinical services at the Functional Medicine Research Center, a division of HealthComm International Inc., in Gig Harbor, Washington.