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Saw Palmetto

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Information about Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is a popular herbal medication and extract derived from the fruit of the low growing, small palm, Serenoa repens, which has fan shaped leaves and is native to Florida and the Southeast United States. 

Clinical use of Saw Palmetto

Currently, saw palmetto is used mostly for symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy. 

Liver safety of Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto has been implicated in rare cases of clinically apparent liver injury, but its specific role in causing liver injury remains uncertain.  

Mechanism of action of Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is a widely used herbal derived from the fruit of the low growing bushy palm of the same name (Serenoa repens).  Native Americans used saw palmetto fruit both as a food as well as an herbal remedy with multiple uses, including as a sedative, diuretic, sleeping aid, expectorant and cough suppressant, aid to lactation, infertility, indigestion and urinary problems.  Currently, saw palmetto is one of the most widely used herbal medications and is used largely for symptomatic benign prostatic hypertrophy.  Saw palmetto is available in multiple formulations including liquid extracts, tablets, capsules, and as an herbal tea.  The active components of palmetto extracts are believed to be the volatile oils and free fatty acids which have activity in inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase and the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotesterone, which has been demonstrated in vitro, but not in human studies.  In short term clinical trials, saw palmetto appeared to be beneficial in improving symptoms of prostatic hypertrophy, but it had no effects on prostate size or serum prostatic specific antigen (PSA) levels.  In longer term studies, the benefit of saw palmetto in improving urinary symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy was less clear. 

Dosage and administration for Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is available in multiple over-the-counter preparations often in combination with other herbals or dietary supplements, and most commonly for symptoms of urinary hesitancy, urgency or burning. 

Side effects of Saw Palmetto

Side effects of saw palmetto are uncommon and mild and may include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea.  In most randomized controlled clinical trials, side effects were no more frequent with saw palmetto than with placebo therapy.

Herbal and dietary supplements

Chinese and Other Asian Herbal Medicines

Multi-Ingredient Nutritional Supplements

See also Nutritional supplements
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Medication resources

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