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Saw Palmetto

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD

Scientific Name:

Serenoa repens

Other Common Name:

Sabal palm, Dwarf palm, Palma Sabal.

Parts of the plant used:

The dried berries.

How is it used?

Different repartitions ranging from extracts, capsules or tablets include Saw Palmetto alone or in combination with other herbs such as pumpkin seeds or pygeum (Prunus africana), which are also employed in the treatment of prostatitis or inflammation of the male prostate gland.

What is it used for?

Extracts of the dwarf American palm, have been available in Europe for several years for the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).This is a non-cancerous inflammation of the male prostate gland. This condition can be common in men over 50 years of age and causes various types of pain and discomfort, including the inability to urinate adequately. In some countries of Western Europe, especially France and Germany, herbal supplements containing Saw palmetto and other herbs, such as Prunus africana and pumpkin seeds, for example, have become one of the leading methods for treatment of early stages of BPH. Successful treatment of BPH is a continuing process, which may also include special diets and moderate exercise. Patients with BPH usually take one or a combination of these herbs indefinitely. Any nutritional support for BPH should be done after consulting a health professional. In men with BPH, oral administration of Saw palmetto twice daily for 1 to 3 months has been generally superior to placebo in improving subjective and objective symptoms of BPH. The drug appears to have similar efficacy to finasteride (a conventional medication used to treat BPH), as evidenced by data from clinical trials. Saw palmetto does not impair libido (sex drive) or exert an estrogenic (feminizing) effect in men’s bodies. Saw palmetto’s effects on women are not known at this time.


Safety / Precautions


  • This herb is usually regarded as safe when taken as directed.
  • A few non-serious side effects may occur in susceptible people, such as nausea and mild abdominal pain.
  • In case you have any problem with your prostate gland, it is very important to contact a medical specialist (urologist) in order to undertake clinical (laboratory) studies. These studies are important because they can tell you if the inflammation is transitory (not serious) or due to cancer or other diseases.
  • Do not waste time with self-diagnosis or self-medication, without truly knowing what your condition is. In case prostate cancer is present, it is possible that a timely operation to remove the cancerous tissue or the application of other options under professional care may save your life.
  • Since this herb’s effects upon women are unknown at this time, avoid in pregnancy, lactation and in small children.

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-diagnosis and self-medication: Always be on the safe side!