Botanical: Serenoa repens (also known as Serenoa serrulata and Sabal serrulata)
Family: Palmae/Arecaceae (fan palm)
Other common names: Pan Palm, Dwarf Palmetto, American Dwarf Palm Tree, Cabbage Palm, Sabal, Serenoa, Palmetto Berry
For a healthy prostate, many men have been enjoying the benefits of Saw Palmetto. The herb is said to be helpful in treating many prostate disorders, including prostate enlargement and the discomforts of frequent urination. As an overall herbal tonic for good health, Saw Palmetto is helpful for those who are convalescing or who suffer from wasting diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, and it is an expectorant that helps clear chest congestion and an old-time remedy for bronchitis and asthma. Many herbalists consider Saw Palmetto to be an aphrodisiac for both men and women.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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Saw Palmetto is a low-growing palm tree native to the West Indies and the southern Atlantic coast of the United States, and Serenoa repens is the sole species currently classified in this botanical genus, Serenoa, which is named after the nineteenth-century botanist, Serano Watson. It has also been known by a number of synonyms, including Serenoa serrulata, under which name it may still be found in alternative medicine. The plant grows from six to ten feet with a high crown of leaves forming a circular fan-shaped outline, and the berries are used for medicinal purposes. Its flowers are yellowish-white, produced in dense compound panicles, and the fruit is a large reddish-black drupe that is not only an important herbal medicine, but it is also an important food source for wildlife (including butterflies). Its trunk is sprawling, and it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pinewoods or in hardwood forests above marshlands, especially in the southeastern United States and most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. Saw Palmetto is extremely slow growing, but long lived, with some plants, especially in Florida, living for over seven hundred years. American Indians used Saw Palmetto fruit for food as a treatment for genitourinary tract disturbances, a remedy for reproductive system problems, a tonic to support the body nutritionally and as a love potion. European colonists soon learned of the use of Saw Palmetto, and it was used as a crude extract for at least two hundred years for various conditions including asthenia (weakness), recovery from major illness and urogenital problems. Saw Palmetto was at one time included in the National Formulary, and in 1898, King's American Dispensatory claimed that Saw Palmetto "is also an expectorant and controls irritation of mucous tissues. It has proved useful in irritative cough, chronic bronchial coughs, whooping-cough, laryngitis, acute and chronic, acute catarrh, asthma, tubercular laryngitis and in the cough of phthisis pulmonalis. Upon the digestive organs it acts kindly, improving the appetite, digestion and assimilation. However, its most pronounced effects appear to be those exerted upon the urino-genital tracts of both male and female, and upon all the organs concerned in reproduction. It is said to enlarge wasted organs, as the breasts, ovaries and testicles, while the paradoxical claim is also made that it reduces hypertrophy of the prostate. Possibly this may be explained by claiming that it tends toward the production of a normal condition, reducing parts when unhealthily enlarged, and increasing them when atrophied." The fruits of the Saw Palmetto are highly enriched with saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (oleic, capric, caprylic, lauric, cis-linoleic, myristic, palmitic and stearic acid), essential oils, steroids (including beta-sitosterol, campesterol, cycloartenol, lupeol, lupenone and stigmasterol), polyprenic compounds (arabinose, flavonoids, galactose, glucose and uronic acid), tannins, carotenes, phytosterols, polysaccharides and lipase. The lipid soluble compounds are thought to be its major pharmacological components.
Benign Prostate Enlargement is also called Benign Prostate Hyperplasia and is caused by the accumulation of testosterone in the prostate where it is converted into a compound (DHT) that stimulates cells to multiply excessively, thus causing the prostate to enlarge. Studies have shown that a liposterolic extract of the berries reduced the uptake by tissue specimens of both testosterone and DHT (dihydrotestosterone) by more than forty percent. This mechanism is confirmed by the observation that Saw Palmetto extract does not induce changes in the level of testosterone or other hormones in the plasma itself, but it appears to inhibit the conversion of less active intraprostatic testosterone to the more active dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by restraining the enzyme steroid, 5-alpha-reductase. Other studies claim it may also act by interfering with DHT binding to the androgen receptor or by relaxing smooth muscle tissue similarly to alpha antagonist drugs, and possibly by acting as a phytoestrogen. (Over 100 open, controlled and comparative trials have been conducted on Saw Palmetto.) Although it is a condition that does not decrease sexual function, BPH does cause swelling, pain and excessive urination in men. In Germany, Saw Palmetto is sold as an over-the-counter treatment for enlarged prostate, and modern researchers are now rethinking about Saw Palmetto's age-old treatment for prostate disorders. Many studies, although inconclusive, are shedding new light on the subject of Saw Palmetto's efficacy as a viable treatment.
Saw Palmetto has been used to treat impotence and other diseases of the prostate gland. It is administered to men to increase the function of the testicles and relieve irritation in mucous membranes, particularly in the urinary tract and prostate. Saw Palmetto is used primarily for symptoms related to prostatic conditions and is thought to have anti-androgenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Results from early clinical studies suggested that Saw Palmetto can improve urinary flow rate and reduce nocturia in patients with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
Administered to women, Saw Palmetto is said to support mammary gland health. It may also help women with polycystic ovarian disease, cystitis and help to decrease androgen (a hormone that stimulates male characteristics in women).
Saw Palmetto is regarded as an herbal diuretic and a urinary antiseptic.
As a fine expectorant, Saw Palmetto clears the chest of congestion. It has been useful in treating bronchial complaints (coughs due to colds, asthma and bronchitis), and it is especially beneficial when there is an excessive discharge of mucus from the sinuses and nose.
Saw Palmetto is an overall herbal tonic that builds strength during convalescence from an illness and has been helpful for those who suffer from wasting diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. Long ago, an American medicinal botanist, John Lloyd, noted that animals fed Saw Palmetto berries grew sleek and fat. In human diets, Saw Palmetto is said to stimulate the appetite and have a beneficial effect on body weight.
Saw Palmetto is said to regulate hormones and is considered to be beneficial to the reproductive organs of both sexes. It is also considered an aphrodisiac.
Saw Palmetto is recommended as a tonic promoting good general health. As a mild sedative and tranquilizer, it is said to improve the disposition.
Men taking the prescription drugs Propecia® and Proscar® should inform their doctors if they are also taking Saw Palmetto Herbal Supplement. Saw Palmetto may counter the efficacy of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and birth control pills. Pregnant women should not use Saw Palmetto. Saw Palmetto may have additive anticoagulant effect and prolong bleeding time. Thus, it is not wise to take with blood-thinning medication (aspirin, warfarin/Coumadin®, etc.) without first speaking with a physician.