What is Saw Palmetto?
Alternate names: Sabal, Shrub palmetto, Sabal serrulata, Serenoa repens
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens or Sabal serrulata) is a dwarf palm plant native to North America. It grows to about two to four feet in height, with fan-shaped leaves and berries. The oil of saw palmetto is medicinally active.
Why Do People Use Saw Palmetto?
Saw palmetto is an anti-androgen used primarily as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Symptoms of BPH include frequent urination, difficulty starting urination, dribbling after urination, weak urinary stream, and waking up several times at night to urinate.
Since the 1960s, extensive clinical studies of saw palmetto have been done in Europe. A review of 24 European trials appeared in the November 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The trials involved nearly 3,000 men, some taking saw palmetto, others taking Proscar and a third group taking a placebo. The men taking saw palmetto had a 28% improvement in urinary tract symptoms, a 24% improvement in peak urine flow and 43% improvement in overall urine flow. The results were nearly comparable to the group taking Proscar and superior to the men taking a placebo.
Saw palmetto contains a high concentration of polysaccharides, which are used by the human body to enhance the immune system as well as work as an anti-inflammatory. One of the primary benefits of saw palmetto is its ability to hinder the transformation of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which is also known as DHT.
While the studies regarding saw palmetto and acne are limited, some studies have found that the oral consumption of saw palmetto may help reduce the severity of hormone-driven acne in women and men.
Although the scientific community has not released an official dosage of saw palmetto for the treatment of acne, the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests users consume 160 mg of saw palmetto two times per day. Make sure that the supplement is comprised of a minimum of 85 percent fatty acids and plant sterols.
The most common side effects associated with saw palmetto use are mild digestive distress, including stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or bad breath.
At least two case reports have linked saw palmetto with severe bleeding. People with bleeding disorders or who are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications ("blood-thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix) should avoid taking saw palmetto unless under medical supervision. It should also be avoided at least two weeks before or after surgery.
The safety of saw palmetto for pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease hasn't been established.
Edited by Green Gables, 06 October 2012 - 01:00 AM.