Saw palmetto is a small palm tree that grows in coastal areas of the American southeast, parts of Africa, and southern Europe. It has white flowers that bloom in the spring and summer and produces clusters of olive-sized fruits that turn dark blue when ripe. Once dried, the fruits are used medicinally.
In many western countries, saw palmetto is used to relieve the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. While unpleasant, BPH is a common ailment affecting the prostate of many aging men. BPH may exhibit a number of symptoms including trouble starting or maintaining urination, the need to urinate more often, urine leaks, or the need to urinate during the night.
Saw palmetto contains a number of compounds including plant sterols and fatty acids. Many studies have been carried out to test the effectiveness of saw palmetto for relieving BPH. Results have been positive; however, most studies were not well-controlled and all did not contain a statistically significant number of participants. Consequently, saw palmetto supplementation may provide different results for different individuals. It also important to know that while saw palmetto may to help relieve the symptoms of BPH, it did not reduce the actual size of the prostate.
Some herbalists purport that saw palmetto may also exhibit anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic, and sedative properties. Other reports, while unconfirmed, indicate that saw palmetto may be somewhat effective in stimulating hair growth.
Due to the hormone activity of saw palmetto, women have used saw palmetto to increase breast size. However, there is no clinical evidence to support its effectiveness for this use.Dosage and Administration
Saw palmetto supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and can also be purchased in liquid form. Oral saw palmetto products should be standardized to contain 80 or more of the active ingredients, which are fatty acids. Standardization by the manufacturer assures the same amount of active ingredient is in every batch of the commercial preparation.
Many times it can require up to a month and a half of saw palmetto dosages before any noticeable effect occurs. Usual doses of a standardized saw palmetto product range from 320mg to 1800mg daily.
Products that combine saw palmetto with other herbs is quite common. However, the FDA has warned against the use of some combination products because they can cause internal bleeding. You should consult with a doctor before using any saw palmetto product.