Saw Palmetto

Scientific Name/Common Name: Serenoa repens / Saw Palmetto

Part(s) Used: Berry

Constituents/Active Ingredients: free fatty acids and sterols; predominantly lauric acid followed by myristic and oleic acids. The berries also contain flavonoids, terpenoids, and polysaccharides.

Overview: Saw palmetto is a small shrubby palm of the sandy soils of southern USA. The berries have been used as food and medicines by First Nations dating back to pre-contact times with archaeological sites showing their importance to Florida’s pre-Columbian peoples. Indigenous people of the southern USA were using saw palmetto berries for treating testicular atrophy, erectile dysfunction, and prostate inflammation in the early 1700s. The newest edition of the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary list saw palmetto berries as an accepted botanical medicine. Over twenty successful human studies have been documented on the usefulness of saw palmetto berry extract for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. Reviews have found that saw palmetto improves urologic symptoms and flow measures. Saw palmetto berries were listed in the 19th edition of the US Dispensatory for treating chronic and subacute cystitis, chronic bronchitis, laryngitis, catarrh, and enlarged prostate, while the 23rd edition stressed their usefulness for treating, “the enlarged prostate of old men”. Many herbal preparations used for prostate conditions are also used for kidney, bladder, and urethral conditions that affect urination in men. The available data on saw palmetto document that the liposterolic extracts possess anti-androgenic activity and prove beneficial in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. In addition, the extracts possess anti-inflammatory and immunostimulant activity based on invitro and invivo studies.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Urinary system; to improve symptoms (weak urine flow, incomplete voiding, frequent daytime and nighttime urination) of benign prostatic hyperplasia; anti-inflammatory.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Mills S, Bone K. 2000. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Toronto (ON): Churchill Livingstone.

Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R. Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002;(3):CD001423.

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.