SAW PALMETTO Overview Information
Saw palmetto is a plant. Its ripe fruit is used to make medicine.
Saw palmetto is most commonly used for decreasing symptoms of an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy, BPH), but some scientific evidence shows that it does not work. Saw palmetto is also commonly used to prevent complications from prostate surgery and for treating certain types of prostate conditions, such as long-term prostate inflammation and pelvic pain that is not caused by an infection (chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome).
How does it work?
Saw palmetto doesn't shrink the overall size of the prostate, but it seems to shrink the inner lining that puts pressure on the tubes that carry urine. Saw palmetto also might prevent testosterone from being converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is thought that some types of hair loss are caused by increased sensitivity of hair follicles to DHT. Reduced levels of DHT may help prevent these types of hair loss.
Possibly Effective for:
- Prostate surgery (transurethral resection of the prostate; TURP). Research shows that taking 320 mg of saw palmetto daily for 2 months before prostate surgery can reduce the time spent in surgery, blood loss, the development of problems during surgery, and the total time spent in the hospital. However, one small study found that taking 160 mg of saw palmetto per day for 5 weeks before surgery does not lower the risk of problems during surgery.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia; BPH). There is conflicting and contradictory research about the benefits of saw palmetto for prostate symptoms. Some research has shown that saw palmetto may modestly improve symptoms such as going to the bathroom at night or painful urination in men with BPH. However, higher quality and more reliable research seems to indicate that saw palmetto has little or no benefit for reducing these symptoms. Any benefit is modest at best. Also, saw palmetto does not seem to work as quickly or enhance the effects of drugs known as alpha blockers, which can be used to treat BPH.
- Male and female pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). The effects of saw palmetto in people with male and female pattern baldness are conflicting. Some research shows that taking saw palmetto and beta-sitosterol by mouth improves the amount and quality of hair in men with male pattern baldness. However, taking saw palmetto by mouth does not appear to improve hair growth as well as the drug finasteride. Early research suggests that applying saw palmetto to the scalp may increase hair density in men and women who are balding. However, higher quality research is needed to confirm these results.
- Underactive bladder (hypotonic bladder). Underactive bladder is a condition in which the bladder can hold unusually large amounts of urine but does not empty completely upon urination. Early research suggests that taking 90-120 drops of a combination of echinacea and saw palmetto for 77 days improves the amount of urine the bladder can hold and the amount left in the bladder after urination in women with underactive bladder.
- Prostate cancer. Taking saw palmetto doesn't seem to be linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
- Prostate swelling and chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Some early research shows that saw palmetto can improve symptoms in men with prostate swelling not caused by an infection. Other early research suggests that taking saw palmetto along with the drug prulifloxacin reduces pain and urinary symptoms better than taking prulifloxacin alone in men with prostate swelling caused by an infection. However, taking the combination doesn't appear to treat the infection or improve sexual function. Taking saw palmetto doesn't seem to improve prostate swelling and long-term pelvic pain syndrome better than the drug finasteride in people with prostate swelling but no infection. Some studies have researched saw palmetto in combination with other ingredients. Early research suggests that taking saw palmetto, selenium, and lycopene can improve symptoms of prostate swelling and chronic pelvic pain syndrome. However, taking saw palmetto alone doesn't seem to work. Other research suggests that taking certain herbal combinations containing saw palmetto and other ingredients can enhance the effects of sparfloxacin or prulifloxacin in treating prostate swelling symptoms caused by infection. However, it's not clear if the effects of these combinations are due to saw palmetto or other ingredients.
- Chronic bronchitis.
- Colds and coughs.
- Increasing breast size.
- Migraine headache.
- Reducing bleeding after prostate surgery.
- Sore throat.
- Other conditions.
SAW PALMETTO Side Effects & Safety
Saw palmetto is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to three years. Side effects are usually mild. Some people have reported dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. Some people have reported that saw palmetto causes impotence. However, these side effects do not seem to occur any more often with saw palmetto than with a sugar pill.
There is some concern that saw palmetto might cause liver or pancreas problems in some people. There have been two reports of liver damage and one report of pancreas damage in people who took saw palmetto. However, there is not enough information to know if saw palmetto was the actual cause of these side effects.
Saw palmetto is POSSIBLY SAFE when administered into the rectum appropriately for up to 30 days. It is not known if it is safe to use for longer periods of time.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Saw palmetto is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It acts like a hormone, and this could be dangerous to the pregnancy. Don't use during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
Surgery: Saw palmetto might slow blood clotting. There is some concern that it might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using saw palmetto at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs) interacts with SAW PALMETTO
Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Saw palmetto might decrease the effects of estrogen in the body. Taking saw palmetto along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with saw palmetto, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.
Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
- Estrogens interacts with SAW PALMETTO
Saw palmetto seems to decrease estrogen levels in the body. Taking saw palmetto along with estrogen pills might decrease the effectiveness of estrogen pills.
Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.
- Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with SAW PALMETTO
Saw palmetto might slow blood clotting. Taking saw palmetto along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
SAW PALMETTO Dosing
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- Prostate surgery (transurethral resection of the prostate, TURP): 320 mg of saw palmetto extract daily for 2 months before surgery.