Saw Palmetto {Serenoa repens}

Also, Known As:

  • Palmetto
  • Sabal
  • Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto was a frequent ingredient in the conservative remedies during the first half of the 20th century and was generally used as a moderate diuretic and also as remedies for chronic cystitis. Saw palmetto herb was also believed to be an effective therapy for enlarged prostates. Since saw palmetto is believed to possess a very active substance called volatile oil, medical practitioners raised questions about its efficiency and in 1950, it was removed from The National Formulary’s official list of medicines. Having de-listed saw palmetto from the official list of medicines, in the 1960s researchers discovered that dried berries of saw palmetto contained high levels of liberated as well as hurdled sitosterols. They segregated many ingredients from plants and beta-sitosterols that brought to the fore estrogenic commotions when they were injected into young feminine rodents. While the action was learned to be relatively excessive when evaluated with the other similar estrogen extracts separated from plants, it was somewhat less in relation to the female sex hormones. For example, normally saw palmetto extract was found to be as much as 1/10,000 times effective as estradiol, but unadulterated beta-sitosterol was even 1/10 times less powerful.

Although saw palmetto has been dropped from the official medicine list, even to this day medications prepared with saw palmetto are still in use in many parts of Europe. While many still consider it to be an effective remedy for treating symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH (nonmalignant enlargement of the prostate gland), the health authorities in Germany have already endorsed the use of saw palmetto preparations in such cases. However, they maintained that remedial substance containing saw palmetto should also have lipophilic (fat-soluble) ingredients. This was done so that people could gain virtually no advantage from tea prepared with aromatic plants as they would have a healing dose of water-soluble energetic doctrines. On the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA has prohibited sales of all medicines for healing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) without valid prescriptions from registered medical practitioners. This has been made mandatory because the FDA is yet to find any proof that preparations made from saw palmetto are capable of curing the disease. In spite of such regulations, substances made from saw palmetto are extensively sold as foodstuff add-ons.

After several year of discredit saw palmetto surfaced again in 1998 when there were promotional campaigns endorsing that saw palmetto was an effective shot in the arm in re-growing hair in males. The primary reason behind this was because saw palmetto was found to be as effective as finasteride (Propecia) for healing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) as well as hair deficit. Surprisingly, still there was no proof to substantiate that saw palmetto was effectual in averting hair deficit or aiding in the growth of new hair. However, in France, Germany and Italy urologists recommend the use of saw palmetto to cure benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) although it is not right if the treatment is not monitored or is done by the patients themselves. In case anyone wants to use saw palmetto preparations as an add-on to their diets, they essentially need to consult their doctors before doing this.

Talking about the ingredients of saw palmetto berries, they essentially contain fatty acids and different plant sterol amalgams known as phytosterols or sitosterols. These are basically beta-sitosterol and or other compounds associated with these. Interestingly, most of these constituents seem to adjust the substances from receiving estrogens as well as obstruct the transformation of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is considered to be a more vigorous compound. Although there is no explanation available, berries also contain flavonoids as well as polysaccharides. In any normal situation, typical saw palmetto product contains 85% to 95% of sterols and fatty acids.

Plant Part Used:

Berries.

Beneficial Use:

Originally found in North America, saw palmetto first came to the notice of the scientists when they found that animals that consumed the plant benefited in many ways, including putting on fat to their bodies. They discovered that the plant’s actions on animals were similar to that of berries that became the animals’ staple diet after the food deficiency during summers. Significantly, the plant extracts had beneficial effects on humans, too. Humans, who were administered the saw palmetto extracts experienced better digestion, improvement in strength and vitality as well as seen putting on flesh and weight. As a result, medicines or tonics containing saw palmetto extracts were prescribed for people suffering from diseases that led to health deterioration. Tonics prepared from saw palmetto were specially found to be useful in the human reproductive system and was widely used to cure weakening of the testes, poor libido, sexual inability,prostate swelling as well as all irritations in the reproductive system.

Physicians have been prescribing saw palmetto as a reproductive stimulant to women for enhancing their sexual vitality, fertility, to normalize irregular menstrual cycles, alleviate them from anguished periods as well as increasing milk flow in new mothers. It is also a useful remedy for irritating conditions like salpingitis and soreness of the ovary. Apart from being beneficial for the reproductive system, saw palmetto has proved to be useful for the urinary system too. It can be administered to people suffering from urinary diseases, maintaining fluids in the urinary system and bed wetting. Among its many uses, saw palmetto also helps to calm the nervous system and relieve people from anxiety and tension. Additionally, saw palmetto is a good healer for any mucous-related problem throughout the human body and is a good remedy for colds, catarrh, and sinusitis. The herb is also used widely to cure bronchitis and asthma owing to its rich expectorant qualities.

Saw palmetto is unique in the sense that it is one of the widely used Western medicines that is anabolic in nature and helps to develop body tissues from simple molecules. Hence, it is an ideal tonic to enhance strength, vitality and weight. Saw palmetto’s fruit pulp is used to cure general weaknesses and inability to intake nourishment. Generally, saw palmetto is used to cure diseases in men, but keeping in view the plant’s potential estrogen functions, it can be administered to women, too. Interestingly, saw palmetto has also been dubbed as ‘plant catheter’ as it is beneficial for reinforcing the bladder neck as well as for curing swellings in the prostate glands. As mentioned earlier, this herb is applied as a diuretic to regularize urine gush and also as a urinary antiseptic to treat cystitis. While treating prostate infection, saw palmetto is generally combined with hydrangea and horsetail.

Other medical uses
  • Homeopathy
  • Herpes

Habitat:

Basically, a native of North America, saw palmetto grows well on sand dunes. The plant exists in great density along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts right from South Carolina to Texas. Saw palmetto normally germinates from seeds and requires an abundance of sunlight and well-drained soil to thrive well. While spring is the best part of the year for sowing saw palmetto seeds, the plant’s berries are harvested in autumn. After harvesting, the berries are de-seeded and dried in sunlight.

Research:

There have been several types of research on the benefits of saw palmetto and as many as seven controlled investigations have revealed that the extracts from the berries of the herb are far more effective in treating all indications of benign prostate hypertrophy, that include recurrent urination, limited urination, and nightly urination. Although medicines containing saw palmetto extracts have been dropped from the official medicine list, one of these studies have found that the herb was as efficient as the officially prescribed medicine Mini-press (prazosin) for treating such disorders. Again, another controlled research has established that extracts from saw palmetto work even better than Proscar (finasteride), another prescribed remedy for curing such ailments. Investigations with the help of ultrasound have also revealed that extracts from saw palmetto berries can effectively trim down swollen prostate tissues. Studies on animals have depicted that saw palmetto berry extracts also have the potential to alleviate hypersensitivity (allergy) and irritation in the body. Conventionally, saw palmetto has also been applied as a diuretic and has the possibility of kindling invulnerable reactions. Notwithstanding all these properties, researchers have been carried on saw palmetto for its potential to clinically treat the prostate tissues.

Components:

Saw palmetto contains essential oil, fixed oil, sterols, polysaccharides.

Recommended Use:

Here are a few guidelines on the dosage of saw palmetto berry extracts. In the initial stages of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), patients may be administered a dosage of 320 mg of the herb’s extract in the form of tablets or capsules daily. Tablets or capsules containing saw palmetto berry extracts have high levels of fatty acids, esters, and sterols. It may be noted that effects of saw palmetto remedies can be expected only after 4 to 6 weeks and the dosage may be sustained if there are positive results. Those who are not comfortable with tablets or capsules and do not desire to take the herbal extract, they may consume powder of the dried berries with tea. This is less strong compared to the extract and hence can be taken in quantities of 5 – 6 grams daily. And if anyone desires to consume the liquid extract of saw palmetto berries, he may take 5 – 6 ml daily of the same for efficient results.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

Although medicines containing saw palmetto berry extracts have been excluded from the list of official medicines, remedies prepared from the herb normally does not have any adverse actions on the body. This has been proved by the numerous scientific researches undertaken on the substance so far. As far as these studies are concerned, the herb is not known to hinder the action of precise gauging of prostate – specific antigen that is used to indicate the gravity of prostate cancer. It is essential to bear in mind that benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can be identified or analyzed by a registered medical practitioner and the dosage of saw palmetto extracts or berries should only be taken after consulting the physician.

How Saw Palmetto Works in the Body:

Since the early days, a man was surprised to discover the beneficial properties of saw palmetto. People soon came to understand the anabolic functions of saw palmetto and used it as a stimulant to develop the body as well as heal certain diseases. Saw palmetto not only helps to gain weight but also enhance vitality and strength. Hence, it is an ideal medicine for all those who are recuperating or feeble owing to or after suffering from some diseases and is useful for both men and women. Men may use the herb to increase their sexual ability as well as to do away with their infertility or impotence. Similarly, women may take the herb or medicines containing its extracts to heal their reproductive system. It can also be used to treat urinary disorders like regularizing urine flow and also strengthening the bladder. Most importantly, researchers as well as the usage of saw palmetto has been found to be extremely beneficial for men in healing prostate disorders and even controlling prostate cancer symptoms.