Saw palmetto is also known as Serenoa repens, Sernoa serrulata, dwarf palm tree, palmetto, scrub palm and cabbage palm. Florida, particularly southern Florida, is the largest producer of saw palmetto. However, it can also be found on the coast of South Carolina, southeastern Georgia and southern Mississippi.
Saw palmetto is typically used to treat urinary symptoms that are associated with an enlarged prostate gland. This condition is often referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia. Saw palmetto is also used to treat chronic pelvis pain, bladder disorders, low libido, hair loss and hormonal imbalances.
You should consult a doctor before you take saw palmetto, especially if you are taking any medications, or if you are allergic to any medications, prescriptions or supplements. Pregnant women and nursing women should also contact a doctor before adding saw palmetto into the diet. Other health risks that should be discussed with a physician before you take the supplement include high blood pressure, heart disease or blood vessel disease.
People taking warfarin or Coumadin should not take saw palmetto, because of possible drug interactions.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the use of saw palmetto has been reported to have some side effects. These include stomach discomfort, nausea, abdominal pain, breathing problems, tightness in the throat or chest, chest pain, skin hives, rashes, itchy swollen skin, dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, tiredness and tender breasts, as well as a decrease in sexual desire.
Remember to consult a physician before taking any supplemental medication, and if any side effects do occur, discontinue use immediately.
Saw palmetto is available at many health food stores, as well as grocery stores. In the drug section of the grocery store it can be found in liquid extracts, tablets, capsules, and infused with teas.
Some health food stores also sell ground fruit, dried fruit and whole saw palmetto berries.
Standardized saw palmetto extract is the best choice for supplementation. This is because the standardized extracts contain 85 to 95 percent sterols and lipids. The standardized extracts are very similarly regulated to pharmaceutical drugs. This guarantees the user will benefit from the specific amounts of the extract, while using nonstandardized extracts leaves the user uncertain of how much extract will actually be consumed.
In an article entitled "Saw Palmetto for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BHP)," on Mendosa.com, Dr. Andrew Weil, author of "Natural Medicine," is quoted as suggesting that saw palmetto should be taken as a standard extract of 160 mg a day for people who are suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia. .
- Photo Credit (c) Sallicio/ Wikimedia Commons
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