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Does Saw Palmetto Treat Enlarged Prostate?

Study Shows Saw Palmetto Is No Better Than Placebo in Treating Symptoms of BPH

Second Opinion

Elizabeth Kavaler, MD, a urologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says that there is no real downside to trying saw palmetto.

Saw palmetto may not help, but it also can't hurt, at least not directly, she says.

"If the saw palmetto doesn't work, you could end up in the emergency room for your symptoms," she says. Another issue is that supplements are not regulated in the same way as prescription medications are, so you can't always be sure what you are getting, Kavaler says.

"Saw palmetto still has a place in supporting some men," says Duffy MacKay, ND. He is vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group representing the dietary supplement industry.

Both groups of men did see an improvement, he says.

Saw palmetto and other botanicals do not produce an "immediate and dramatic" effect, MacKay says. "People need to manage their expectations and things like saw palmetto should be combined with weight loss, exercise, and some therapies targeted at inflammation when treating BPH."

Inflammation may play a role in causing an enlarged prostate gland, he says.

Saw palmetto may be worth a try, MacKay says. "If you are not getting the results that you want, take the next step, which is likely a stronger prescription medication that will have a faster effect, but it is not without risk."

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