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Saw Palmetto

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Enlarged Prostate - This is the use that we suggest as there are research studies to support its benefit. Most clinical studies show significant benefits. As the herb is rated safe it does not put a person in danger if he decides to use it. It has a class 1 safety rating from the American Herbal Products Association. However, a recently completed well-designed study showed that it was no better than taking a placebo (sugar pill).

Start with a dosage of around 160 mg daily or twice daily. Take it for 3 months and see if it benefits you in reducing the discomfort and symptoms of enlarged prostate.

Acne - A lot of interest can be found in using this to treat and cure acne problems in both men and women. It may not work for everyone (and neither does prescription drugs!) but if it does, it will make a world of a difference for those suffering for acne problems. The history of this herb allows us to confidently recommend it for treating acne.

Male Pattern Baldness - Evidence is building that this herb may be helpful in treating hair loss in men suffering from male pattern baldness. Initial finding is very promising.

You may need to use this herb for up to three months before you can see a benefit. Use the same dose as for treating enlarged prostate.

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Table of Contents

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Evidence of Benefits (Leaf Rating System)

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Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH or enlarged prostate)

Extensive clinical studies in the past show that saw palmetto is effective at reducing the symptoms such as frequent and painful urination, urgency and hesitancy.

Clinical studies show that this herb is as effective as the prescription drug Proscar (finasteride) and Flomax (tamsulosin).

However, recent well-designed studies showed that this supplement may be no better than taking a placebo (sugar pill).

leaf logo plant natural remedies herb herbal Hair Loss in Males / Baldness / Hair Growth or Regrowth

Expert believes that this supplement may help with hair loss and thinning hair by blocking the effects of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), much like what the prescription drug Propecia does.

One double-blinded placebo-controlled study done in 2002 showed that it was helpful in male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia).

Find out all the natural remedies for hair loss that can be used.

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Erectile Dysfunction (Impotence)

In one study involving 120 patients suffering from mild to moderate enlarged prostate, this herb was able to significantly reduce erection difficulties (as measured by the International Index of Erectile Function).

See Saw Palmetto for ED for a discussion on this benefit.

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Aphrodisiac / Sex Drive / Erection Disorder

One study show that men suffering from an enlarged prostate gland benefited in using saw palmetto for improve sexual functions.

This article specifically talks about the research studies on using this herb for low libido.

See Herbs for Sex Drive to get a list of remedies to boost libido.

Helpful Prostate Cancer

Data from population studies did not show that taking this reduces prostate cancer. There are no clinical studies to support this claim.

However, since prostate enlargement may be a warning sign of the possibility of prostate cancer in the future, this herb may be useful in keeping the inflammation under control.
Helpful Acne

There is no clinical study to support this claim. Significant amounts of anecdotal evidence are appearing that seem to show that this supplement can clear up acne conditions.

Breast Enlargement or Reduction

There are no clinical studies to support this claim. There is no evidence that taking this supplement affects the breasts.

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Facts about Saw Palmetto

Millions of men use saw palmetto to treat symptoms of enlarged prostate (BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia). It is often suggested as a suitable alternative to prescription drugs like Proscar (finasteride) and scientific evidence does support its use.

What is Saw Palmetto?

Saw palmetto is a palm type tree that can be found in southeastern USA. The fruit is used for its medicinal benefits. In Europe, it is used extensively to treat enlarged prostate. It is also approved by the German Commission E.

Saw palmetto contains many active ingredients such as fatty acids, flavonoids and plant sterols. It is believed that the active ingredients are the oils found in the fruit. It is suggested that the active ingredients (one or more) blocks the conversion of the male hormone testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and thus, reduce prostate enlargement. However, experts are not exactly sure of the exact action it has on the prostate glands. It also seems to help treat male pattern baldness as one clinical trials showed.

This supplement also seems to have anti-inflammatory benefits. However, taking this herb does not seem to lower serum PSA (prostate-specific antigen), a marker of prostate cancer.

Can women use this herb?

There is very little good scientific information on using this herb in women. In theory, it is useable in women (who are not pregnant or nursing).

I've heard that this herb can cure my acne condition. Is that true?

One growing use of this supplement to help clear up acne conditions in both men and women.

Too much testosterone and DHT (dihydrotestosterone) can create acne problems. And don't forget that women also make testosterone (although in a smaller quantity than in men).

Clinical studies will need to be done to verify this claim although there are many anecdotal reports for using it to treat acne conditions.

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Suggested Benefits and Traditional Uses

  • acne
  • aphrodisiac / libido enhancer
  • asthma
  • bladder infection (cystitis)
  • breast enlargement
  • breast reduction
  • colds
  • cough
  • enhance sexual performance
  • enhance sperm production
  • enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia / BPH)
  • erectile dysfunction (impotence)
  • excessive hair growth (hirsutism)
  • hair loss in males (androgenetic alopecia)
  • inflammation of the bladder
  • migraine headache
  • muscle spasm
  • ovarian cysts
  • performance enhancement
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • prostate cancer
  • prostatitis
  • sedative
  • vaginal or uterine disorder
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Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

Side effects that have been seen in research studies include:
  • stomach upset
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • bad breath
  • dizziness
  • headaches
There have been some reports by men taking saw palmetto that it can cause mild erectile dysfunction, breast tenderness or enlargement and changes in sex drive.

Safety - Saw palmetto has been used extensively in human research studies and there appears to be no safety concerns.

Pregnancy and Lactation - Probably not safe as this herb have hormone-like effects that could affect pregnancy or the unborn child. Do not use this if you are pregnant.

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Common Drug & Health Condition Interactions

Blood Thinners / Anti-coagulants - caution

Experts believe that saw palmetto might increase the risk of bleeding, especially when used with blood-thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix (clopidogrel), NSAIDS such as Advil (ibuprofen), Voltaren (diclofenac), Naprosyn/Aleve (naproxen) or Aspirin (ASA). Let your doctor know if you are taking this supplement, especially if you are going for surgery.

Proscar / Propecia / Birth Control Pills - theoretical

As this supplement has hormonal activities, it might interfere with Proscar/Propecia (finasteride), Euflex/Eulexin (flutamide) or birth control pills. Use these combinations with caution and let your doctor know if you decide to take this herb.

Liver Problems - not likely

This herb does not affect any liver enzymes or liver function in healthy adults.
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Dosage & How to Take It

Capsules or tablets dosage format

The usual dosage is 320 mg taken daily or 160 mg taken twice daily. Start with 160 mg once daily first as it may be as effective. This is standardized to 80% to 90% of the liposterolic content.

Take this supplement with food will help reduce any stomach upset.

Dried, ground or whole berries

Take 1 to 2 grams daily of the berries.

Tea formulation / Decoction / Extracts

Take 2 teaspoons (10 grams) of dried berries and simmer in 720 mL (24 ounces) of water until the volume is reduced in half. Drink 120 mL (4 ounces) three times daily.

Some experts believe that the active ingredients may not dissolve in water and so this formulation may not be as effective.

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Related Topics and Resources

Natural Remedies for Enlarged Prostate

What Natural Remedies Can You Use for Hair Loss?

Return to Natural Remedies List

Selected References
Revised: November 18, 2011

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