This fact sheet provides basic information about the herb saw palmetto -- common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. Saw palmetto grows in the southern United States.
Common Names--saw palmetto, American dwarf palm tree, cabbage palm
Prostate cancer rarely involves a single treatment. It may involve several therapies as well as many health care professionals from different specialties to decide the best treatment options, timing, and dosage. Also, the complications and side effects of prostate cancer may require attention from different experts.
The ripe fruit of saw palmetto is used in several forms, including ground and dried fruit or whole berries. It is available as a liquid extract, tablets, capsules, and as an infusion or a tea.
What the Science Says
While several small studies suggest that saw palmetto may be effective for treating BPH symptoms, most larger trials found little or no evidence that saw palmetto affects prostate disease. In 2006, a large study of 225 men with moderate-to-severe BPH found no improvement with 320 mg saw palmetto daily for 1 year versus placebo. NCCAM co-funded the study with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Saw palmetto does not appear to affect readings of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA is protein produced by cells in the prostate. The PSA test is used to screen for prostate cancer and to monitor patients who have had prostate cancer.
Side Effects and Cautions
Saw palmetto may cause mild side effects, including stomach discomfort.
Some men using saw palmetto have reported side effects such as tender breasts and a decline in sexual desire.
Tell your health care providers about any herb or dietary supplement you are using, including saw palmetto. This helps to ensure safe and coordinated care.