An ancient herbal remedy for urinary problems, saw palmetto is now popular as a supplement for prostate health—and for good reason. Some studies have shown that shown that saw palmetto—extracted from the dark purple berries of the American saw palmetto plant—may help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the medical name for an enlarged prostate gland.
Saw palmetto is often the first course of therapy in men with mild to moderate prostate enlargements symptoms. The standard dosage of saw palmetto supplement of an 85%-95% extract for BPH is 320 mg per day, usually taken as 160 mg twice per day. It has been believed that saw palmetto dietary supplements provide mild to moderate improvement in symptoms of prostate enlargement: urinary flow, increased frequency and urgency of urination, and a fullness of the bladder after urination.
Other claims have seen saw palmetto treat baldness, low libido, bladder disorders, prostatitis and migraines.
Among the main constituents of saw palmetto berry extract are fatty acids and sterols, whose oily compounds are thought to have various hormonal and anti-inflammatory effects.
Saw palmetto is believed to inhibit the actions of testosterone on the prostate that cause prostate enlargement and interference with urinary problem flow. It shrinks the inner epithelium of the prostate, but not the prostate’s overall size.
While saw palmetto shows great promise for enhancing prostate health, there appears to be significant inconsistencies with the formulas available. To determine whether supplements possess the amounts of the key plant compounds suggested by their labels, an independent lab company tested products for potential contamination with lead, and tablets and caplets were tested for their ability to properly break apart in the digestive system.
Not So Pure
Two saw palmetto supplements failed to list the part of the saw palmetto plant used to produce their extracts. This information is a FDA labeling requirement. Those products that are unsafe for consumption are:
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