Saw Palmetto (Serenoa serrulata)
Saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to the West Indies and the Atlantic coast of America. Traditionally, this herb is used for male reproductive health.
This herb is stated to possess diuretic, urinary antiseptic, endocrinological and anabolic properties.
Part of the plant used: FRUIT.
Herb powder 0.5-1.0 g three times daily.
Saw palmetto has been used for chronic and acute cystitis, Inflammation of the membrane in the genito-urinary tract, diminution in size and function of the testis, for sex hormone disorders and prostate enlargement.
Sex Hormone Problems:
Saw palmetto extracts can inhibit the production of androgens (male sex hormones) (1). High levels of beta-sitosterol within saw palmetto gives this herb oestrogenic (female hormone) properties (1). This is useful for people with over secretion of male hormones.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy - Prostate Enlargement:
This is caused by a build up of the testosterone-derivative "dihydrotestosterone" in the prostate. Saw palmetto extracts can inhibit the formation and build-up of dihydrotestosterone thus helping to maintain normal prostate size and function (2,3). It has also been shown to alleviate BPH symptoms, such as difficult and frequent urination. Usually, signs of improvement take 4 to 6 weeks to appear. Saw palmetto has also been shown to shrink enlarged prostate (4,5). A number of controlled studies have proven saw palmetto to be effective for the treatment of prostate disease (6,7).
Frequent and Painful Urination:
Studies into prostatic hypertrophy have also found that saw palmetto statistically decreases both frequency of urine production and pain during urination (8,9).
Studies have shown that saw palmetto can reduce fluid retention caused by histamine release (allergic-type reactions) (10) and due to hostile chemicals.
Anti-inflammatory and immune-enhancing properties have also been noted for saw palmetto extracts (11,12).
SIDE-EFFECTS AND PRECAUTIONS
Saw palmetto is well tolerated. Human studies have shown that one man reported gastric side-effects when taking this herb.
Pregnant and lactating women should consult with a qualified medical health professional before taking saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto is not suitable for use by children.
N.B. Clinical research shows that the results of standard blood chemistry tests were normal following saw palmetto therapy.
INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS
Saw palmetto should not be taken by those on hormone therapy. Due to the anti-androgen and oestrogenic activities of saw palmetto it may interact with oral contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy.
1. "Herbal Medicines A Guide for Health-care Professionals", C A Newall, L A Anderson, J D Phillipson, The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.
2. Carilla E et al. Binding of permizon a new treatment for prostatic benign hyperplasia, to the cytosolic androgen receptor in the rat prostate. .J Steroid Biochem, 20:521-523, 1984.
3. Sultan C et al. Inhibition of androgen metabolism and binding by a liposterolic extract of "Serenoa repens B" in human foreskin fibroblasts.J Steroid Biochem 20:515-519, 1984.
4. Braeckman J. The extract of Serenoa repens in the treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A multicenter open study. Curr Ther Res 55: 776-785, 1994.
5. Romics I, Schmitz H, and Frang D. Experience in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy with Sabal serrulata for one year. Int Urol Nephrol 25: 565-569, 1993.
6. Plosker GL, et al. Serenoa repens (Permixon). A review of its pharmacology and therapeutic efficacy in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Drugs Aging 9(5): 379-395, 1996.
7. Carraro J, et al. Comparison of phytotherapy (Permixon) with finasteride in the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia: A randomized international study of 1,098 patients. Prostate 29(4): 231-240, 241-242, 1996.
8. Champault G, Patel JC & Bonnard AM. A double-blind trial of an extract of the plant Serenoa repens in Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.Br J Clin Pharmacol, 18:461-462, 1984.
9. Tasca A et al. Trattamento della sintomatologia ostruttiva da adenoma prostatico con estratto di Serenoa Repens. Minn Urol Nefrol, 37:87-91, 1985.
10. Stenger A et al. Pharmacology and biochemistry of hexane extract of Serenoa repens. Gazz Med Fr, 89:2041-2048, 1982.
11. Wagner H, Plachsbarth H. A new antiphlogistic principle from Sabal serrulata, I. Planta Med, 41:244-251, 1981.
12. Wagner H et al. A new antiphlogistic principle from Sabal serrulata, II. Planta Med, 41:252-258, 1981.