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Saw Palmetto Benefits

This pages focuses on saw palmetto benefits - What is saw palmetto? What are the health benefits of saw palmetto? Are there any saw palmetto side effects? Read on and find out.

What is Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto Benefits

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) belongs to the palm family.

It grows as a tree or shrub and has fanlike, fingery fronds, white flowers, and small yellow berries which turn bluish-black when ripe.

In the United States, saw palmetto grows naturally in the warm climates of the southeast coast, from South Carolina to throughout Florida.

The active ingredients of saw palmetto include fatty acids, plant sterols, and flavonoids. The berries also contain high molecular weight polysaccharides (sugars), which have anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthening properties.

Saw Palmetto Benefits

Saw Palmetto Benefits

One of the main saw palmetto benefits is its effect on the prostate gland, a gland in men that secretes much of the fluid in semen.

In particular, saw palmetto has been found to be effective in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which is a condition characterized by the enlargement of the prostate gland. Although doctors still do not know what causes BPH exactly, one prevailing theory is that it is caused by hormonal changes. Specifically, as men age, changes in the ratio of male hormone (testosterone), dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and female hormone (estrogen) levels stimulate the prostate to grow.

Saw palmetto contains a compound that inhibits the action of the enzyme (testosterone-5-alpha-reductase) that turns testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and is therefore effective in preventing and treating prostate enlargement.

It has been found that the standardized extract of saw palmetto acts as well as the synthetic drug finasteride (Proscar) in treating symptoms of BPH without side effects such as loss of libido.

Besides treating prostate enlargement, other saw palmetto benefits include:
  • Hair Growth: Anecdotal reports show that saw palmetto berry extract triggers hair growth.
  • Body Building: Due to the ability of saw palmetto to preserve testosterone, recently bodybuilders have been taking saw palmetto supplements to help them increase muscle mass.
  • Other Health Benefits: Saw palmetto seems to have numerous other health benefits, such as treating kidney problems, diarrhea, bronchitis, digestive difficulties, fluid retention, nasal congestion, and lack of appetite. For women, saw palmetto is said to be able to alleviate ovarian and uterine irritations and cystitis. Some people also claim that it can trigger breast growth and lactation although there are no clinical studies to support the claim.


Saw Palmetto Benefits - Dosage

Take a standardized extract of saw palmetto that contains 90 percent fatty acids and sterols. Recommended dosage for early stages of BPH is 160 mg twice a day. However, if you think you have BPH, do not self-treat using saw palmetto. Be sure to consult your doctor first to rule out other problems such as prostate cancer. It is also advisable to consult with a holistic practitioner for the possible use of saw palmetto to treat BPH.


Saw Palmetto Side Effects

Saw palmetto is generally safe when used as directed with few side effects, although mild stomach complaints and minor headaches may occur.

Saw palmetto may have effects similar to some hormones, so pregnant or nursing women, or women who have had or are at risk for hormone-related cancers should not use this herb.

Saw palmetto may interfere with the absorption of iron.


Duke, J.A., Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs, (Rodale Books, 2000).
University of Maryland Medical Center.

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