Saw Palmetto

Common name: Sabal

Saw palmetto  (sometimes referred to as sabal in Europe) is a native of North America. The berries of the plant are used.

In the early part of this century, saw palmetto berry tea was commonly recommended for benign enlargement of the prostate. It was also used to treat chronic urinary tract infections. Some believed that the berry increased sperm production and sex drive in men.

Active constituents in Saw Palmetto

The liposterolic (fat-soluble) extract of saw palmetto provides fatty acids, sterols, and esters. The extract is thought to reduce the amount of dihydrotesterone (an active form of testosterone) locally in the prostate. Saw palmetto does not appear to inhibit production of this form of testosterone elsewhere in the body. Saw palmetto also inhibits the actions of inflammatory substances that may contribute to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Contrary to some opinions, saw palmetto does not exert an estrogenic effect in men’s bodies.

In Europe, herbal supplements have become one of the leading methods for managing early stages of BPH. Successful treatment of BPH is an ongoing process. Men with BPH will probably need to take one or a combination of these herbs indefinitely. Any nutritional support for BPH should be done after consulting a doctor.

Over the last decade, numerous clinical studies have proven that 320 mg per day of the liposterolic extract of saw palmetto berries is a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of BPH. A recent review of studies completed by Harvard researchers concluded that saw palmetto extract was as effective as Proscar in the treatment of BPH.3 Although some uncontrolled clinical studies have shown success over a three-month period,   recent studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of saw palmetto in studies lasting six months to three years.

A three-year study in Germany found that taking  160 mg of saw palmetto extract twice daily reduced nighttime urination in 73% of patients and improved urinary flow rates significantly. In a multicenter study at various sites in Europe, 160 mg of saw palmetto extract taken twice daily was found to treat BPH as effectively as Proscar without side effects such as loss of libido. A one-year study found that taking 320 mg once daily was as effective as 160 mg taken twice daily in the treatment of BPH.

Saw palmetto extract has also been combined with a nettle root extract to successfully treat BPH. One study using a combination of saw palmetto extract (320 mg per day) and nettle root extract (240 mg per day) showed positive actions on symptoms of BPH over a one-year treatment period. Another study compared the same combination to Proscar for one year with positive results.

How much Saw Palmetto is usually taken?

For early-stage benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), 320 mg per day of the liposterolic saw palmetto herbal extract—which is rich in fatty acids, sterols, and esters—can be taken. It may take four to six weeks to see results with BPH; if improvement is noted, the saw palmetto should be used continuously. Although it has not been tested for efficacy, saw palmetto can also be used by making a tea with 5–6 grams of the powdered dried fruit. Liquid extracts of whole herb at 5–6 ml per day may also be used, but has not been specifically tested.

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by a licensed physician. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication.