5 Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto scientifically known as Serenoa repens or Sabal serrulate, is a plant used in herbal medicine. Saw palmetto supplements usually contain extracts of the fruit of the plant. Often used to fight hair loss in men, saw palmetto is also commonly used for conditions affecting the prostate health and balances hormone levels. It’s also associated with other benefits, including decreased inflammation and improved urinary function.
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Table of contents
- What is saw palmetto
- Health benefits saw palmetto
- Supplements and dosage of saw palmetto
- Side effects of saw palmetto
What is saw palmetto?Saw palmetto, is a palm tree that is dwarf in nature native to the southeast regions of North America. Dark berries are obtained from saw palmetto tree which contain large seed. The saw palmetto fruit has long been used by Native Americans for its nutritional, diuretic, sedative, aphrodisiac, and cough-reducing properties. Nowadays, the berries are eaten whole or dried and used to make tea. Saw palmetto is dried and ground that can be purchased in capsule or tablet form. It’s widely available, including online, the most common form on the market is oily extracts of the fatty portions of the dried berries. These supplements contain 75–90% fats depending on the extraction method. They usually provide higher amounts of beneficial plant compounds like vitamin E and other antioxidants compared to the raw fruit.
Health benefits saw palmetto
- May support prostate health
The prostate is a small gland located between the bladder and the penis in men, which is responsible for maintaining sperm health. Some studies suggest that saw palmetto could support prostate health and may aid in preventing issues like BPH and prostate cancer. Saw palmetto may help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) — a medical condition characterized by a slow, noncancerous yet abnormal enlargement of the prostate. BPH is common in older men, affecting up to 75% of men in their 70s. If left untreated, the prostate can enlarge to the point of interfering with the ability to properly empty the bladder. However, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
- Improves urinary tract function
Urinary tract symptoms are common among older men and can include issues like incontinence and difficulty urinating. Saw palmetto may improve urinary symptoms associated with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) — a condition that causes an enlargement of the prostate gland and results in decreased urine flow. A study found that treatment with 160 mg of saw palmetto twice daily reduced lower urinary tract symptoms, increased urine flow, and improved overall quality of life after 6 months. Still, more studies are needed to determine whether saw palmetto may also improve urinary tract function in the general population, including those without prostate issues.
- May reduce male pattern baldness
Saw palmetto may help prevent hair loss in men and women known as male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness, it is also known as androgenic alopecia. It works by blocking the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen-type hormone believed to cause this form of hair loss. Higher levels of androgen hormones like DHT are thought to shorten the hair growth cycle and lead to the growth of shorter and thinner strands of hair. While the studies on saw palmetto’s effect on hair loss is limited. However more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.
- May decrease inflammation
Saw palmetto contains the antioxidants epicatechin and methyl gallate — compounds that prevent damage to cells, decrease inflammation, and protect against chronic disease. Various studies show that saw palmetto may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could be beneficial in treating certain conditions. However, these results are promising, additional studies are needed to determine how saw palmetto may impact inflammation in humans.
- May help regulate testosterone levels
Saw palmetto is regularly used by men looking to boost testosterone levels naturally. Regulating testosterone levels can influence several aspects of health, including body composition, sex drive, mood, and cognition. Testosterone levels decline with age, and some research shows that low levels of testosterone could contribute to conditions like heart disease. Saw palmetto supplement decreases the activity of 5α-R — an enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), another sex hormone, to help preserve testosterone levels in the body.
Supplements and Dosage of Saw palmetto
Saw palmetto is generally available in supplement form, making it incredibly easy to add to your daily routine. It is available in capsule, softgel, and tablet form and is often combined with other ingredients that help enhance prostate health, such as pumpkin seed extract. You can purchase dietary supplements containing saw palmetto in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in herbal products. Saw palmetto is also widely available for purchase online. If you are interested to buy saw palmetto supplement or any other supplement, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that you look for a Supplement Facts label on the product that you buy. Supplement Facts label will contain important information including the amount of active ingredients per serving, and other added ingredients (like fillers, binders, and flavorings). There are different formulation and dosage forms of Saw palmetto like tablets, capsules, powders, liquids, etc (Natures velvet Saw palmetto is one of the examples).
Most studies are conducted using saw palmetto in dosages of 320 mg per day, often divided into two doses. Some recommend taking supplements with food, which can help minimize digestive issues and prevent adverse side effects. The proper dose of supplements may depend on various factors including your age, gender, and medical history. Talk to your healthcare practitioner to get personalized advice.
Side effects of Saw palmetto
Saw palmetto is normally considered safe and has been associated with very few side effects. Some of the most commonly reported side effects of saw palmetto in research studies include bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, stomach, vomiting. Additionally, some men taking saw palmetto have reported erectile dysfunction, breast tenderness or enlargement, and changes in sexual desire. However, it hasn't been well-demonstrated in humans, saw palmetto may influence levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Therefore, people with hormone-sensitive conditions (including breast cancer and prostate cancer) should consult their physician prior to using saw palmetto. Kindly note that saw palmetto is not recommended for everyone. Particularly, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking saw palmetto, as it may impact hormone levels, as it may alter hormone levels, saw palmetto may not be suitable for those taking hormone replacement therapy or hormonal contraceptives either. More research is needed to evaluate its potential effects. Saw palmetto may also interfere with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin or Coumadin, which can increase bleeding risk. If you have any underlying health conditions, are taking certain medications, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before supplementing with saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto is a type of palm used to produce a supplement that’s packed with health benefits. Several studies show that saw palmetto may help increase testosterone levels, improve prostate health, reduce inflammation, prevent hair loss, and enhance urinary tract function. Anyhow, some studies have turned up mixed results on its effectiveness. Another large-scale human research is needed to understand how saw palmetto can impact health. Saw palmetto may cause fewer side effects and should not be taken by those on certain medications or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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- Rakesh Gupta