Saw Palmetto has been known as “the old man’s friend” in reference to its effect on the prostate. However, often overlooked is the fact that saw palmetto is also useful for certain conditions suffered by women.
Saw Palmetto has a distinguished history in the treatment of many male disorders. Recently we are seeing a massive resurgence in the use of this herb to treat disorders such as enlargement of the prostate (BPH), poor libido, impotence and hair loss.
Saw Palmetto is a popular treatment throughout Europe and its use is increasing in the United States.
Commom Names: Saw palmetto, American dwarf palm tree
Latin Names: Serenoa repens
Saw palmetto is an evergeen fan palm which grows to a height of 2 to 3.5 m (6 – 12 feet). Its natural habitat is pinelands, coastal dunelands and sand hills, and it is native to the south eastern United States.
The plant has blue-green to yellow-green leaves, with small, fragrant flowers. The blue-black, olive shaped berries are the component typically used for medicinal purposes.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (Enlarged Prostate)
Treatment for enlarged prostate is probably the most well-known medical use of saw palmetto.
The prostate is a small gland located at the base of the bladder in men, where it wraps around the urethra. When the prostate becomes enlarged (very common in older men), it can compress the urethra making urination difficult. This leads to other complications and symptoms, such as a weak urinary flow, an incomplete emptying of the bladder and urinary frequency
Clinical studies have shown saw palmetto extract to be effective in the prevention and treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In fact, saw palmetto has been compared favorably to treatment with drugs such as finasteride in several studies.
You can read more about treating benign prostatic hyperplasia naturally here.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
There is some indication that saw palmetto may be effective in the treatment of male pattern hair loss.
Uses of Saw Palmetto in Women
In women, saw palmetto has traditionally been used to stimulate breast enlargement and lactation. It is also believed to support ovarian and uterine health, and has been used to treat reduced libido and frigidity.
There is also evidence that saw palmetto may be useful in treating other disorders relating to hormone imbalance, such as acne and PMS (pre-menstrual stress).
Saw palmetto berries contain fatty acids (free fatty acids and their glycerides), and steroids, flavonoids, resin, pigment, tannin, and volatile oil.
Whilst multiple mechanisms of action have been suggested, the herb appears to inhibit the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the compound that drives the multiplication of prostate cells causing prostatic enlargement.
In women, saw palmetto has been associated with estrogenic and other hormonal effects. It has also been observed to have an inhibitory effect on the androgen receptors.
Standardized Extract: 320 milligrams daily, in one dose or two divided doses
Whole berries: 1 to 2 grams of dried, ground berries daily
Tincture: 1 to 3 ml (0.03 – 0.09 oz) of tincture three times daily;
Fluid: 1 to 2 milliliters fluid extract of berry pulp three times daily;
Tea: Add 2 teaspoons dried berry to 24 ounces water and simmer slowly until the volume is reduced by half. Drink approximately 4 ounces three times daily.
Precautions and Side-Effects of Saw Palmetto
The scientific literature notes very few severe side effects associated with saw palmetto. Most common are complaints relating to the stomach and intestines, such as stomach pain, nausea, constipation or diarrhea. These effects may be minimized by taking saw palmetto with food.
There have been two reports associating the use of saw palmetto with severe bleeding. For this reason, those who have bleeding disorders, or who are scheduled to undertake surgery, are advised to exercise caution.
There have been a small number of complaints from men involving testicular discomfort, breast tenderness or enlargement, and changes in libido.
Where to Buy Saw Palmetto
Saw Palmetto capsules are readily available from most pharmacies. A variety of FDA approved products can also be purchased from Amazon at a reasonable price.
If you simply want more information, take a look at the books listed below.
If you have any questions on saw palmetto, or have any experience of using this herb that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.