Saw palmetto is a type of palm tree whose berries have the ability to ease urinary and reproductive problems, as well as other ailments. It is most commonly used for reducing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Although some scientific evidence suggests that it does not work for BPH, saw palmetto is believed to help inhibit complications associated with prostate surgery. It also treats certain types of prostate conditions.
While saw palmetto may not shrink the entire prostate size, it may shrink the inner lining that exerts pressure on the tubes that transport urine. In addition, it stops testosterone from being converted to a stronger form of testosterone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a type of hormone which may cause hair loss.
Saw palmetto extract is available in tea, liquid, as well as tablet forms.
The Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto
Let’s take a look at seven things saw palmetto can do for you.
Prevents Testosterone from Being Broken Down
Saw palmetto has a significant effect on testosterone levels. When testosterone levels are on the low, it can lead to a range of health conditions, which can be taken care of by stabilizing the levels of this hormone.
It is believed that saw palmetto stops testosterone from being converted or broken down. This is because the levels of testosterone in the body rise when the hormone cannot break down naturally.
Manages Enlarged Prostate
The prostate is actually a small gland in the male reproductive system. As a man grows older and his testosterone levels reduce, the prostate gland may begin to increase in size. The consequence of this is that the prostate can exert some pressure on the urethra, resulting in discomfort and other symptoms such as frequent urination, difficulty in starting or maintaining urination, and the urge to get up in the night to urinate.
Thankfully, saw palmetto can be used to manage a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Like it was mentioned earlier, this is a health condition that some men may experience when the prostate becomes larger than it should.
Since saw palmetto is thought to improve testosterone levels, it is commonly used to treat BPH as it may shrink the prostate and alleviate urinary symptoms. According to some studies, supplements that contain saw palmetto have the ability to increase testosterone levels. However, these studies show that further research is needed to determine how saw palmetto regulates testosterone levels.
Testosterone is a hormone that is needed for the sex drive of both men and women. In fact, the hormone has been linked to fertility as it plays a significant role in the production of both eggs and sperm.
This is why some people use saw palmetto to boost their testosterone levels, increasing their desire for sex or libido.
Effective as Treatment for Prostate Cancer
With claims that saw palmetto may have a significant effect on male hormone levels, it may also be helpful in reducing the growth of cancerous cells in the prostate. In fact, in addition to conventional treatments, some men who suffer from prostate cancer take saw palmetto supplements.
However, it is advisable to speak to a doctor and seek proper diagnosis before taking saw palmetto as an alternative remedy for prostate cancer.
Slows Down the Hair Loss Process
As they age, it is natural for most men to lose some of their hair. This natural occurrence is often due to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the result of the breakdown of testosterone. However, men who experience hair loss may make use of saw palmetto to regulate their testosterone levels and slow down the process of hair loss.
May Inhibit Cancerous Cells
It is believed that saw palmetto might help treat prostate cancer, especially because it may slow down the growth of cells affected by the condition. Some studies have, however, indicated that taking saw palmetto may not reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, more research is needed before saw palmetto can be considered an effective treatment for prostate cancer.
Treats Minor Ailments
Saw palmetto also helps to treat for a range of other ailments, including colds, sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, headaches, and insomnia. Traditionally, saw palmetto has been used for years to treat these conditions, but studies show that only little is known about the active components of the herb or their effectiveness.
The herb may have been used based on anecdotal evidence, but it would be helpful to know the science that supports the potency and safety of saw palmetto.
Dosage and Interactions
When taking saw palmetto supplements, like other herbal remedies, it is important to first check the recommended dosage on the product. In addition, it is advisable to consult with a medical doctor if you are considering taking saw palmetto. This way, the safety of using saw palmetto with other medicines can be ascertained.
In addition, saw palmetto has the ability to slow blood clotting. Therefore, people who are on antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs, such as aspirin, should not take it.
Saw palmetto may also interact with other hormones, so women who are on birth control pills should avoid taking it.
Side Effects and Precautions
Saw palmetto has certain mild side effects, including headaches, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation. It is also important to keep in mind that saw palmetto functions as a hormone, and so it is not advisable for pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers to take it. Any woman considering using herbal supplements during pregnancy should check first with a medical doctor.
The Bottom Line
Although there is some evidence that saw palmetto might, in fact, have a positive effect on a person’s health, its potential risks have not been well-studied.
As a matter of fact, there are indications that more research is needed to establish the safety and effectiveness of saw palmetto as a treatment for prostate-related conditions.
Over the years, there have been claims by many people that saw palmetto is, in fact, helpful for them. If used correctly, the herb may be worth considering as a complementary treatment.