Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)
Main Facts about Saw Palmetto
Saw Palmetto is a clumping evergreen palm, 6 to 12 feet tall with fan-shaped, sharply toothed leaves. It has tiny, fragrant flowers in dense clusters followed by small, blue-black fruits. Saw Palmetto flowers in spring. Parts used – fruit.
This small palm tree is the only species in its genus. It is native to Florida and the Gulf Coast. Its natural habitat includes pinelands, coastal dunes, and sand hills. Centuries ago, Native Americans discovered that its fruit has diuretic action and began using it to treat urinary problems.
Saw Palmetto was named in honor of Sereno Watson, the American botanist who undertook many collection expeditions while a curator of the herbarium at Harvard University.
Today, Saw Palmetto is the primary herbal treatment for benign prostate enlargement.
Using Saw Palmetto
With prostate problems affecting about half of all men aged 50 and over, Saw Palmetto is one of the world’s most popular herbs for male health. Many studies have shown that Saw Palmetto shrinks enlarged prostates and relieves the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): the need to urinate immediately, difficulty getting started, decreased flow, difficulty finishing, and perhaps most annoying, the need to get up at night to urinate. It has been compared with several of the key pharmaceutical treatments for the same condition and shown to have a similar level of efficacy, but with fewer side effects. Research also suggests that, unlike some pharmaceutical medications, Saw Palmetto does not interfere with the measurement of a marker called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), the levels of which are used by doctors to predict the presence of prostate cancer.
Neither Saw Palmetto nor pharmaceutical treatments cure BPH. They reduce prostate size and relieve symptoms. Continued enlargement may get better of either herbal or pharmaceutical treatment, and surgery may become necessary. Chinese physicians prescribe an herbal formula with Saw Palmetto as a main ingredient for prostate cancer. Early research doesn’t give enough information on how effective is Saw Palmetto prostate cancer treatment.
The symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer can be very similar, so it’s important to see your doctor for a diagnosis before commencing self-treatment. Only mild cases of BPH are suitable for self-treatment. All men over 50 years of age should consider regular screening for prostate cancer, which can easily go undetected without testing.
To use Saw Palmetto, look for a standardized extract and take 320 mg a day, as either one or two doses.
How to grow Saw PalmettoSaw Palmetto thrives in well-drained, sandy soil in full sun or light shade. It does best with a minimum temperature of 50-55F, but it can survive temperatures as low as 0F. If given adequate light, Saw Palmetto can be grown as a houseplant.