The saw palmetto, also known as serenoa repens, is an herbal supplement that is grown primarily in the southeastern parts of the United States. It is a fan-shaped palm that is approximately three to six feet in height. About 50 years ago, medical researchers discovered the effects of the berries that these plants produce. The berries from this plant are used in the capsules of saw palmetto that individuals consume. The saw palmetto berries have been beneficial mainly in relieving the symptoms of prostate problems in men.
There have been studies showing that the saw palmetto berries are effective in men who have been diagnosed with various prostate problems. Saw palmetto berries relieve only the symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate; they do not reduce the enlargement. They also help with any urinary problems that are associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Saw palmetto can also help to reduce any male-pattern hair loss; it has similar effects to the drug Proscar, also known as Finasteride. Saw palmetto can be purchased as capsules, dried berries, in liquid form and as tablets.
How It Works
It is unclear how saw palmetto works to ease the urinary symptoms of BPH. The fatty acids that are found in the fat portion of the saw palmetto berries are the active ingredients. They do not reduce the enlargement of the prostate gland; they only slow the growth of new prostate cells and reduce any inflammation. The saw palmetto berry tea may not provide the same benefits because the ingredients in the berries do not dissolve well in water.
As with any medication, individuals may experience side effects. People who are using the herb may experience constipation, diarrhea or stomachaches. Some other effects may be cramping, change in sex drive, headaches and nausea. Individuals taking saw palmetto should seek medical attention immediately if any of these side effects occur: dark urine, difficulty breathing, hives, rash, swelling and tightness in the chest.
This product has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as being effective and safe for any medical condition. Individuals who are interested in taking this herb should consult with their doctor first. It is advised that all doctor and laboratory appointments be kept while taking saw palmetto. This product is not recommended for use in children or women who may be pregnant or breastfeeding. Individuals who are allergic to any saw palmetto ingredients should not take this herb, nor should those who have a history of breast cancer.
How to Take It
People using saw palmetto should use it as instructed by their doctor or per package instructions. It is best to take this herb with food or milk. It may take up to 30 days for the saw palmetto to take effect. As with any medication, see a health-care provider about any questions or concerns.