Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens/Sabal serrulata) is a berry-producing palm-like plant. Native Americans in the southeastern United States used the berries as a staple food and medicine. Men used the berries to treat urinary tract problems and even to increase sperm production and libido in the early 1900s. Saw palmetto is now primarily used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. Researchers are unsure how saw palmetto works. However, it contains plant-based chemicals that may be beneficial for BPH. Researchers believe that saw palmetto may affect testosterone levels in the body, as well as the amount of an enzyme that promotes the growth of prostate cells. Saw palmetto appears to have

An anti-inflammatory effect on the prostate. At least one study found that when saw palmetto is combined with lycopene and selenium, it has even greater anti-inflammatory activity.

Prostatic hyperplasia that is benign (BPH)
There is conflicting evidence about whether saw palmetto works to treat BPH. Several studies suggest that the herb is effective for treating symptoms such as excessive urination, difficulty starting or maintaining urination, and the need to urinate at night. In men, the urethra, the tube that empties urine from the body, passes through the prostate gland. Men who have an enlarged prostate gland may have difficulty urinating.

According to some studies, saw palmetto is as effective as finasteride (Proscar) in treating symptoms while causing no side effects such as libido loss. Other research suggests that saw palmetto

may actually shrink the size of the prostate gland. Due to the short duration of these studies (usually less than 3 months), it is impossible to say whether saw palmetto is truly effective for preventing BPH complications. Two well-conducted studies, for example, found that saw palmetto was no better than placebo at alleviating BPH symptoms.

To rule out prostate cancer, it is critical to receive a proper diagnosis of BPH from your doctor.

Other applications
Animal studies show that saw palmetto inhibits tumour cell growth, implying that it may be useful in the treatment of prostate cancer. Other research suggests that saw palmetto can help with urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH. While these studies appear to be promising,

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