Herbal Profile: Saw Palmetto |
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Herbal Profile: Saw Palmetto

Sarena-Rae Santos March 10, 2023

By Sarena-Rae Santos, Natural Health Blogger

What is Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto, sometimes called American Dwarf Palm Tree, Baies du Palmier Scie, Cabbage Palm, Chou Palmiste, Ju-Zhong, Palma Enana Americana, Palmier Nain, Palmier Scie, Sabal, Serenoa, and many other names. Its scientific name is Serenoa repens, and it’s native to the southeastern United States (1). Saw palmetto, commonly found in Florida, is a slow-growing, clumping, multi-trunked palm that typically grows 5 to 10 feet tall and spreads 4 to 10 feet wide. Saw palmetto typically has green leaves but can vary from silver to blue-silver (2).

Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto

Historically, saw palmetto has helped manage various conditions, including disorders of the male and female reproductive organs and coughs due to various diseases; let’s take a closer look.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Saw palmetto is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation has been linked with many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (3). In animal studies, saw palmetto extract decreased swelling and several markers of inflammation, including interleukin 6 (IL-6) in mice with enlarged prostates (4). In another animal study, saw palmetto decreased inflammation and improved the antioxidant status of rats with benign prostatic hyperplasia (5). 

May Support Prostate Health

The prostate’s primary function is to produce the fluid that nourishes and transports sperm (6). Saw palmetto’s anti-inflammatory properties are responsible for its ability to support prostate health. As discussed earlier, some research suggests that saw palmetto can help prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and even prostate cancer (7). A 15-year study concluded that taking 320 mg of saw palmetto extract daily may help prevent the progression of BPH (8). 

Additionally, human studies have found that saw palmetto significantly improves peak urinary flow, International Prostate Symptom Score, scores of storage symptoms and voiding symptoms, quality of life score, four-item male sexual function questionnaire score, and International Index of Erectile Function score (9). Another study discovered after 12 weeks of saw palmetto intervention standard deviation maximum urinary flow rate was significantly higher in the treatment group than in the control group, while relative urinary resistance was significantly lower in the treatment group than in the control group (10).

Prostate health complications can put pressure on your urinary tract and cause complications of the bladder and overall urinary tract health (11) Read about the consumer reports on Prostadine for this supplement also has a main ingredient such as saw palmetto that can support a healthy prostate.

May Improve Urinary Tract Health

Urinary tract health is responsible for removing wastes as well as producing and controlling urine and any disorders or problems that might occur within the tract (12). Thankfully saw palmetto may help. A small 12-week study of men who took 1,000 mg daily of saw palmetto oil enriched with beta-sitosterol noted significant improvements in BPH symptoms compared with those who took unenriched saw palmetto oil (13). Similarly, taking 320 mg of saw palmetto decreased symptoms of BPH and improved urinary flow, quality of life, and sexual function compared to a placebo (14).

May Regulate Testosterone Levels

Testosterone is vital to men’s health and regulates sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm (15)

Additionally, testosterone levels affect several aspects of health, including body composition, sex drive, mood, and brain function (16). When testosterone levels decline with age, it can contribute to health conditions such as heart disease (17). Thankfully, saw palmetto can decrease the activity of 5-alpha reductase — an enzyme responsible for converting testosterone to DHT — to help preserve testosterone levels (18).

In animal studies, palmetto increased testosterone synthesis, muscle endurance, and sperm count by altering hormone regulation in rats (19). In a 14-day human study,  taking 1,200 mg per day of Resettin (a supplement made with saw palmetto and astaxanthin, a type of antioxidant found in algae) increased serum testosterone levels by 38% compared to a placebo (20).

Reduces the Risk of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men (21), but thankfully, saw palmetto may help. A systematic review of 11 studies identified saw palmetto supplements as one of the five commonly used forms of alternative medicine by men with prostate cancer (22). Additionally, studies have also found that saw palmetto inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells and may destroy dangerous cells (23). 

May Prevent Hair Loss

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is made from testosterone by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, found in the skin, hair follicles, and prostate (24). DHT’s actions and the hair follicles’ sensitivity to DHT cause hair loss (25). According to one review, saw palmetto may help block the uptake of DHT and decrease its ability to bind to androgen receptors by nearly 50% (26). By reducing the uptake of DHT in your hair follicles, which decreases DHT’s ability to bind to specific hormone receptors, saw palmetto may help regulate testosterone levels and prevent hair loss (27). 

Safety Concerns

With that said, the largest concern comes from mainstream sources, claiming that saw palmetto might slow blood clotting; they recommend stopping using it at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery (28). I looked deeper into this claim, and there wasn’t much evidence, but I found one case report of coagulopathy induced by saw palmetto (29).

Additionally, it has been postulated that saw palmetto directly stimulates estrogenic receptors and inhibits progesterone receptors (30). With that said, and the fact that saw palmetto is predominantly used by men, there is no indication that it has been safely used by pregnant women (31). 

How to Use Saw Palmetto

You can find saw palmetto in dried bulk, teas, capsules, powders, extracts, and even herbal tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas are also an option. 

Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:

  • Earthley’s Nourish Him Naturally was curated with a man’s specific needs in mind! Earthley combined herbs to support heart health, prostate health, and energy levels to make this vitamin powerhouse. You could see improvement in overall health and wellness through this natural and organic herbal supplement!

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.

If you have saw palmetto in your natural medicine cabinet, how do you use it?

This is the writings of:

Sarena-Rae Santos is the founder of The Holistic Hipppie blog, dedicated to natural health and plant-based eating. Her journey to natural health began in 2019 when she swayed away from allopathic medicine after becoming wheelchair-bound due to the side effects of 20+ medications. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and dizziness due to nystagmus were the sources of her many health complications. Sarena's symptoms diminished after adopting a healthier lifestyle surrounding whole foods and herbs, leaving her a fantastic quality of life and a passion for educating people.
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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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