Saw Palmetto: Snapshot


Saw Palmetto is a herb that acts to tone and strengthen the male reproductive system. It may be used with safety where a boost to the male sex hormones is required. It is a specific in cases of difficult urination due to enlarged prostate glands.

Combinations:

  • For debility associated with the reproductive system, it will combine well with Damiana.
  • For the treatment of enlarged prostate glands, it may be used with Pygeum and Nettle Root.
  • For assistance with problematic urination, it combines well with Crataeva and Nettle Root.

Botanical Name

Serenoa repens

Part Used

Berries

Common Names

sabal, American dwarf palm tree, cabbage palm, fan palm

Brief History

Folk medicine has used saw palmetto for inflammation of the urinary tract, bladder, testicles, and mammary glands. It has also been used for bed-wetting, persistent cough, eczema, and improvement of the libido. Homeopathy remedies are used for urination problems and inflammation of the urinary tract. American physicians recognised the usefulness of saw palmetto in hormonal regulation as early as 1856. Doctors prescribed teas of whole dried palmetto berries for breast enlargement, muscle building, and prostate problems.

Cultivation

Serenoa repensRequires a warm sunny position in a moist but well-drained soil. Plants can succeed in quite dry soils so long as their roots can penetrate to underground water. Growing mainly in coastal areas in its native range, this species is likely to be very tolerant of maritime exposure, though not of cold winds. This species is one of the hardiest of palms and succeeds outdoors in warm temperate zones. It is only likely to be marginally hardy, even in the mildest areas of Britain, and probably tolerates temperatures down to between 14 and 23°F.

Constituents

Lipids (fatty acids), Flavonoids, Polysaccharides.

Therapeutic Properties

Anti-inflammatory, male tonic, antiprostatic, spasmolytic, possibly antiandrogenic

Vitalist Properties

Temperature: Warm

Moisture: Drying

Therapeutic Indications

Cystitis, chronic or sub-acute. Prostatic enlargement. Catarrh of the genito-urinary tract. Testicular atrophy. Sex hormone disorders.

Primary Uses

Difficult urination; BPH.

Bladder & ProstateAlthough there has been little research into the herb as a whole, extensive clinical research, mostly in Europe, has shown that a fatty acid extract of saw palmetto is effective in reversing enlargement of the prostate gland. In the process, the extract reduces urinary retention and eases urine flow.

Saw palmetto has been nicknamed the “plant catheter.” This is because it can strengthen the neck of the bladder. It is used chiefly as a diuretic to improve urine flow and as a urinary antiseptic in cystitis.

Clinical Research

Except when specified, all of the clinical studies listed here used 320 mg/day of LESP (Liposterol/Fatty Acid Extract), which is equivalent to an average daily dose of 3 g of saw palmetto berries.

  • A systematic review of randomised clinical trials found that LESP improved urologic symptoms and flow measures compared with placebo. LESP produced a similar improvement in urinary symptoms and flow compared with finasteride and is associated with fewer adverse reactions. The following trials were covered in this review.
  • Several randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials demonstrated that treatment with LESP for 28 to 90 days significantly reduced symptoms and nocturnal frequency and increased peak urinary flow rates and postvoid residual (PVR) in patients with BPH. One randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that although LESP treatment improved BPH symptoms, an equal improvement was observed in the placebo group.
  • One hundred and seventy-six (176) nonresponders to placebo were selected for a double·blind, placebo·controlled, multicenter study investigating BPH (30 days). LESP treatment significantly improved dysuria significantly increased peak urinary flow rate and decreased daytime and nocturnal urinary frequency compared with a placebo.
  • Some double·blind. comparative studies involving LESP have been completed. No Significant differences were observed between LESP and finasteride (5 mg/day) for improving quality of life and IPSS, but finasteride did significantly increase peak flow rate over LESP in a large-scale, randomised trial. This trial was 26 weeks in duration and finasteride can show increasing efficacy up to 1 year after initiation of therapy. Mean PVR and peak urinary flow outcomes were not significantly different between LESP and alfuzosin (7.5 mg/day), but the Boyarsky and obstructive scores were significantly better for alfuzosin in a 3-week trial. (Alfuzosin is a fast-acting drug.) LESP compared favourably with mepartricin (100,000 international units/day) (or nocturnal frequency, dysuria and PVR and with prazosin (4 mg/day for 12 weeks) for urinary frequency, mean urinary flow rate, and PVR.
  • Results from several uncontrolled clinical trials demonstrated significant therapeutic effects for LESP in patients with BPH over the long term (3 years in one study), with good to excellent tolerability.
  • Double-blind, controlled trials of combination therapy with LESP and other phytotherapeutic agents have been undertaken. Urinary flow, micturition time, residual urine. frequency of micturition and a subjective assessment of the effect of treatment were all significantly improved over placebo for LESP and pumpkin seed extract (480 mg/day of extract) combination therapy. When LESP was combined with nettle root (equivalent to 2.4 g/day of root) and compared with placebo over 24 weeks, significant improvements were seen in IPSS and peak flow but not PVR. When the LESP-nettle root combination was compared with finasteride (5 mg/day) over 48 weeks, both treatments significantly improved urinary flow and IPSS, and no significant differences were observed between the two treatments. The herbal combination had better tolerability than finasteride. A subsequent analysis of a subgroup of patients from this trial indicated that efficacy was unrelated to prostate volume. A randomised, placebo-controlled trial published in 2000 indicated that a blend of LESP, nettle root, pumpkin seed oil, and lemon flavonoid extract improved clinical parameters in symptomatic BPH slightly more than placebo. The blend was associated with significant epithelial contraction, especially in the transition zone, indicating a possible mechanism of action for the clinical effects. This blend also induced suppression of prostatic tissue DHT levels in a randomised clinical trial involving patients with BPH.
  • In Germany, the Commission E supports using saw palmetto to treat urination problems in BPH stages I & II.

Dosage (Divided Daily)

• Dried Berry: 3,000 – 12,000mg

Dried Powder: 1,500 – 3,500mg

• Active Ingredient: 320 – 640mg (45% Fatty Acids)

• Tincture: 2 – 4.5mL (1:2)

Contraindications

Owing to its effects on androgen and oestrogen metabolism, the use of Fructus Serenoae Repentis during pregnancy or lactation and in children under the age of 12 years is contraindicated.

Side effects

Most side effects are minor gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, which are usually resolved when the herb is taken with meals.

Interactions with other drugs

None known


Buy Saw Palmetto Loose Powder or Capsules
Dried Saw Palmetto Berry Powder

 Bibliography
  1. Balch, P. A., & Bell, S. J. (2012). Prescription for herbal healing (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Avery.
  2. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.
  3. British Herbal Medicine Association. Scientific Committee. (1983). British herbal pharmacopoeia (Consolidated ed.). West Yorkshire: British Herbal Medicine Association.
  4. Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine (2nd American ed.). New York: DK Pub.
  5. Herbalpedia (2013)
  6. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism : the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.
  7. World Health Organization., & Ebrary. (1999). WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants (pp. electronic text.). Retrieved from https://virtual.anu.edu.au/login/?url=http://site.ebrary.com/lib/anuau/Top?id=10040306

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