Learn More About Saw Palmetto
What is saw palmetto?
“Repugnant” is the description usually givento the taste of the saw palmetto berry. And yet before the white man came to America’s shores, saw palmetto was used as a medicine and tonic by both Seminole Indians and Mayans. The saw palmetto berry come from a sort of palm tree, known to botanists and other scientists as Serenoa repens, the sole species of the genus Serenoa. The saw palmetto tree grows primarily in warm climates with sandy soil, such as Florida (often referred to as “the Palmetto State”).
What are the traditional uses of saw palmetto?
“By the time you know where your liver is,” a hard-drinking wit once remarked, “it is too late.” The same could almost be said of the prostate, the walnut-sized gland possessed by the male half of the human race, and the function of which is to store and help secret seminal fluid. After age forty the prostate begins to enlarge in response to exposure to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, a derivative of the male hormone testosterone.
This condition, known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH, often causes incomplete emptying of the bladder, which in turn can lead to multiple trips to the bathroom each night. As well as being very annoying and affecting quality of life, this interruption of sleep can have a serious long term impact on health, given the importance of proper rest. Severe cases of BPH can even necessitate invasive surgical procedures. These operations can sometimes result in impotence and incontinence.
This brings us to saw palmetto, a very concentrated source of fatty acids and sterols that appear, based on a number of clinical studies, to inhibit product of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that can produce excessive amounts of DHT, the hormone that causes the prostate to grow too big. Studies published in the Lancet, the British Journal of Urology, the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry, and many other places, generally seem to point to the conclusion that sufferers of BPH can reduce the number of nocturnal bathroom trips very significantly by taking saw palmetto, usually in the form of an extract carefully standardized to contain enough fatty acids and sterols to exert a proper effect.
Although research regarding saw palmetto has centered almost exclusively on saw palmetto’s apparent benefits for the prostate, traditional uses and anecdotal reports exist on that herb’s benefits for such conditions in men as chronic pelvic pain, bladder disorders, decreased sex drive, even hair loss, as well as infertility in both males and females. Interestingly, James Duke, a renowned ethnobotanist who compiled the main herbal databases used by the US Department of Agriculture, believes that there may be some validity to claims that saw palmetto might increase bust size in women, although to date this use remains extremely speculative.
It should be noted that evidence suggests that other nutrients such as zinc, vitamins B-6 and D, pygeum, and pumpkin seed extract aid in preserving the health of the prostate. Many prostate formulas exist that contain these substances in combination with saw palmetto.
How much saw palmetto is usually taken?
Typically, saw palmetto is ingested in the form of capsules or softgels standardized to contain 85-95% fatty acids and sterols. Three hundred and twenty milligrams of saw palmetto extract per day taken with meals is the amount most often recommended by herbalists and nutritionally oriented doctors.
Are side affects of using saw palmetto?
Nothing in the literature appears to suggest that saw palmetto presents a hazard. But any men who notice a sudden change in urinary frequency or other difficulties associated with the prostate should see a doctor rather than attempt to treat themselves.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.