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Saw Palmetto

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Saw Palmetto

The medicinal herb Saw Palmetto as an alternative herbal remedy - Saw palmetto grows in the southern United States.Common Names--saw palmetto, American dwarf palm tree, cabbage palm

Latin Names--Serenoa repens, Sabal serrulata

  • Saw palmetto (Sabal serrulata) has long been utilized by the Seminole Indians as a tonic to promote strength. The main constituents include glycerides, steroids, flavonoids, and volatile oil.

What Saw Palmetto Is Used For

  • Saw palmetto is used mainly for urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate gland (also called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH). *Saw palmetto is also used for other conditions, including chronic pelvic pain, bladder disorders, decreased sex drive, hair loss, and hormone imbalances.

Herbal Remedy Products with Saw Palmetto as part of the ingredients

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  • Thanda Passion Booster™ - Herbal remedy to naturally increase libido, sexual pleasure & orgasmic strength in women
    • Increases libido, sex drive and desire
    • Enhances female sexual pleasure
    • Increases orgasmic strength
    • Achieves optimal sexual health and vitality
    • Supports circulation and hormonal balance

How Saw Palmetto Is Used

  • 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 about Saw Palmetto

  • Several small studies suggest that saw palmetto may be effective for treating BPH symptoms.
  • 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 cofunded the study with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  • There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of saw palmetto for reducing the size of an enlarged prostate or for any other conditions.
  • 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.
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Side Effects and Cautions of Saw Palmetto

  • 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.

News About Saw Palmetto

3 of the Best Natural Supplements For Men Over 50

(Reader's Digest: Best Remedies)

These natural supplements are a man's best friend when it comes to fighting everything from baldness to bone loss.

1. Saw Palmetto

What is it?

The saw palmetto, a small palm tree that grows wild from Texas to South Carolina in the U.S., gets its name from the spiny saw-toothed stems that lie at the base of each leaf. Its medicinal properties are derived from its blue-black berries. Native Americans regularly consumed saw palmetto as food and used it as a tonic. Long a favourite in Europe, saw palmetto is now one of the 10 best-selling supplements in the U.S. as well.

What does it do?

Saw palmetto has a long history of folk use, was historically used to treat urinary tract disorders, and was given to frail individuals as a general tonic. Over the years, it has also been employed to relieve persistent coughs and improve digestion. Today, saw palmetto’s main claim to fame is its ability to relieve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland—a use verified by many reputable scientific studies.

What are the major benefits?

Doctors routinely prescribe saw palmetto for the benign enlargement of the prostate gland known medically as BPH: “benign prostatic hyperplasia” or “benign prostatic hypertrophy.” When the walnut-sized prostate gland becomes enlarged (a condition that affects men over 50 years of age), it can press on the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder through the prostate and out the penis. Resulting symptoms include frequent and painful urination, weak urine flow, and difficulty emptying the bladder completely.

Researchers believe that saw palmetto relieves the symptoms of BPH in various ways. It also appears to alter levels of various hormones that cause prostate cells to multiply, and may curb inflammation and reduce tissue swelling. Studies have also found that saw palmetto produces fewer side effects (such as impotence) and quicker results than the conventional prostate drugs. However, its long-term safety and effectiveness are not yet known.

What are the additional benefits?

Saw palmetto may help ease the symptoms of chronic prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) and chronic pelvic pain, although research has produced mixed findings. It may help around half of men with alopecia. Traditionally, it is used to treat impotence and infertility in men and is thought to be an aphrodisiac.

In an international study of 1,000 men with moderate BPH, two-thirds benefited from taking either a prescription prostate drug or saw palmetto for six months. Those using the herb had fewer problems with side effects. However, the conventional medication significantly reduced the size of the prostate whereas the effect of saw palmetto was much less dramatic, particularly in men who had very large prostates. The study authors concluded that the herb may be most appropriate when the gland is only slightly or moderately enlarged.

A study of 811 men with BPH compared the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor tamsulosin with saw palmetto. The researchers found the conventional drug and the herb equally effective, with the drug more likely to cause ejaculation disorders. Additionally, a small three-month study comparing saw palmetto with the alpha-agonist prazosin found both reduced symptoms, although prazosin was slightly more effective.

How do I take it?

Choose saw palmetto supplements made from extracts standardized to contain 85 to 95 per cent fatty acids and sterols—the active ingredients in the berries that are responsible for the herb’s therapeutic effects. Be careful if you’re thinking about taking higher amounts. Scientific studies have not examined the effects of high doses.

If you’re using the dried berry, aim for 2 to 4 grams a day. If you’re using a liquid extract (1:2) go for 2 to 4.5 millilitres a day. For liposterolic extract take 320 milligrams a day divided into two doses. For other preparations follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your health-care practitioner.

It may be one to two months before you see the benefits of saw palmetto. Because saw palmetto has a bitter taste, those using liquid forms may want to dilute the extract in a small amount of water. The herb can be taken with or without food, although taking it with breakfast or dinner will minimize the risk of stomach upset.

Although some health-care practitioners recommend sipping a tea made from saw palmetto, such a brew may not contain therapeutic amounts of the active ingredients and may not provide any real benefits for the treatment of BPH.

Read the label carefully when buying a “men’s formula.” Although most contain saw palmetto, they usually also include a number of other herbs or nutrients and some of these may not be right for you. In addition, the amount of saw palmetto in these products may be too small to be of any use.

2. Pygeum

What is it?

The Pygeum africanum extract tree is a tall evergreen of the family Rosaceae found in central and southern Africa. Its bark has been used medicinally for thousands of years and was used to relieve urinary disorders. The African plum tree has become endangered because of the demand for its bark to process P. africanum extract.

Pygeum has been used in Africa for many generations to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), a condition often affecting older men where the prostate enlarges and interferes with urination. Only recently have medical and other health-care practitioners in the West caught up to their African counterparts. Healers in Africa have been using the bark of P. africanum for many generations to treat bladder and urination disorders consistent with an enlarged prostate (BPH).

The Zulu have used the bark of P. africanum extract to treat a variety of health conditions, including inflammation, kidney disease, urinary problems, malaria, stomachache, fever, difficulty urinating and inflammation. It is also used as an aphrodisiac. Since the 1960s, P. africanum extract has been used in Western clinical practice.

What does it do?

Pygeum has been observed to improve urinary symptoms associated with enlargement of the prostate gland or prostate inflammation. It is thought that the pentacyclic triterpenoids present in pygeum help rid the body of substances that bind to prostate walls and thereby maintain sound prostate and reproductive system health.

What are the major benefits?

A lipophilic extract of the bark of Pygeum africanum is used in the treatment of a mildly to moderately enlarged prostate (BPH). Numerous studies have suggested the effectiveness of P. africanum extract in improving symptoms of BPH, including an overall symptom rating called the International Prostate Symptom Score, quality of life, residual urine volume, urine flow rate, urinary hesitancy or frequency, pain associated with urination and frequency of nocturia (nighttime urination) in men with mild to moderate symptoms. The majority of trials conducted since the 1970s show improvement in BPH symptoms, including frequency of nocturia, urine flow rate and residual urine volume, with the administration of P. africanum extract.

Although pygeum improves bothersome symptoms associated with prostate enlargement or irritation, it does not seem to reverse the condition or prevent the prostate from getting larger over time. It’s unclear whether pygeum is more effective or better tolerated than other common medical therapies, including surgery. Scientists are conducting ongoing clinical trials comparing the effects of pygeum with conventional medical therapies for BPH.

What are the additional benefits?

Although effectiveness is unproven, pygeum is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac and as an aid to sexual performance. It has also been used to treat fever, impotence, inflammation, kidney disease, malaria, male baldness, psychosis and stomach upset, although effectiveness in these areas is also unproven. Small, flawed trials suggest it may help with infections of the prostate (prostatitis) or seminal vesicles and with sexual dysfunction.

How do I take it?

There are no standard or well-studied doses of pygeum and many different doses are used traditionally, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your health-care practitioner. Safety of use beyond 12 months has not been studied.

Pygeum caused few problems in studies and is generally well tolerated in doses of 100 to 200 milligrams a day. Some people may experience stomach discomfort, including diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain or nausea. Stomach upset is usually mild and does not typically cause people to stop using pygeum.

People with known allergies to pygeum should avoid this herb. Signs of allergy include rash, redness, itching, swelling, wheeze, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Always have symptoms of prostate problems checked by a doctor.

Always have urinary problems or symptoms of prostate problems checked by a doctor before beginning treatment with pygeum. If your symptoms are getting worse or if new symptoms appear, see your doctor again.

Taking pygeum with other drugs commonly used to treat symptoms of prostate enlargement, such as terazosin or finasteride, may increase its beneficial effects. Pygeum be most helpful for prostate problems if used with the herbs saw palmetto or stinging nettle.What is it?

The Pygeum africanum extract tree is a tall evergreen of the family Rosaceae found in central and southern Africa. Its bark has been used medicinally for thousands of years and was used to relieve urinary disorders. The African plum tree has become endangered because of the demand for its bark to process P. africanum extract.

Pygeum has been used in Africa for many generations to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia or benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), a condition often affecting older men where the prostate enlarges and interferes with urination. Only recently have medical and other health-care practitioners in the West caught up to their African counterparts. Healers in Africa have been using the bark of P. africanum for many generations to treat bladder and urination disorders consistent with an enlarged prostate (BPH).

The Zulu have used the bark of P. africanum extract to treat a variety of health conditions, including inflammation, kidney disease, urinary problems, malaria, stomachache, fever, difficulty urinating and inflammation. It is also used as an aphrodisiac. Since the 1960s, P. africanum extract has been used in Western clinical practice.

What does it do?

Pygeum has been observed to improve urinary symptoms associated with enlargement of the prostate gland or prostate inflammation. It is thought that the pentacyclic triterpenoids present in pygeum help rid the body of substances that bind to prostate walls and thereby maintain sound prostate and reproductive system health.

What are the major benefits?

A lipophilic extract of the bark of Pygeum africanum is used in the treatment of a mildly to moderately enlarged prostate (BPH). Numerous studies have suggested the effectiveness of P. africanum extract in improving symptoms of BPH, including an overall symptom rating called the International Prostate Symptom Score, quality of life, residual urine volume, urine flow rate, urinary hesitancy or frequency, pain associated with urination and frequency of nocturia (nighttime urination) in men with mild to moderate symptoms. The majority of trials conducted since the 1970s show improvement in BPH symptoms, including frequency of nocturia, urine flow rate and residual urine volume, with the administration of P. africanum extract.

Although pygeum improves bothersome symptoms associated with prostate enlargement or irritation, it does not seem to reverse the condition or prevent the prostate from getting larger over time. It’s unclear whether pygeum is more effective or better tolerated than other common medical therapies, including surgery. Scientists are conducting ongoing clinical trials comparing the effects of pygeum with conventional medical therapies for BPH.

What are the additional benefits?

Although effectiveness is unproven, pygeum is sometimes used as an aphrodisiac and as an aid to sexual performance. It has also been used to treat fever, impotence, inflammation, kidney disease, malaria, male baldness, psychosis and stomach upset, although effectiveness in these areas is also unproven. Small, flawed trials suggest it may help with infections of the prostate (prostatitis) or seminal vesicles and with sexual dysfunction.

How do I take it?

There are no standard or well-studied doses of pygeum and many different doses are used traditionally, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions or consult your health-care practitioner. Safety of use beyond 12 months has not been studied.

Pygeum caused few problems in studies and is generally well tolerated in doses of 100 to 200 milligrams a day. Some people may experience stomach discomfort, including diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain or nausea. Stomach upset is usually mild and does not typically cause people to stop using pygeum.

People with known allergies to pygeum should avoid this herb. Signs of allergy include rash, redness, itching, swelling, wheeze, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Always have symptoms of prostate problems checked by a doctor.

Always have urinary problems or symptoms of prostate problems checked by a doctor before beginning treatment with pygeum. If your symptoms are getting worse or if new symptoms appear, see your doctor again.

Taking pygeum with other drugs commonly used to treat symptoms of prostate enlargement, such as terazosin or finasteride, may increase its beneficial effects. Pygeum be most helpful for prostate problems if used with the herbs saw palmetto or stinging nettle.

3. Red Clover

What is it?

Red clover thrives in a wide range of different climates and can be found growing wild in grassy areas of many continents; its flowers are used medicinally.

What does it do?

The flowers and leaves of red clover contain phytoestrogens, natural plant chemicals that mimic the effects of the human hormone oestrogen. The most useful phytoestrogens are the isoflavones, such as genistein, and red clover is rich in these compounds. Red clover extracts can be standardized to contain 15 percent isoflavones.

Animal studies reveal that red clover isoflavones help protect DNA from damage, prevent cell proliferation and stop new blood vessels (potentially supplying tumours with nutrients) from forming, all activities that may have cancer-fighting effects. They also help cells form particular chemicals that may reduce the risk of cancerous changes. Red clover has been used for centuries to treat skin ulcers of all kinds and other skin diseases and nagging coughs.

A United Kingdom study showed red clover prevented bone loss. However, more work needs to be done to determine if it is an effective preventive for osteoporosis (where the bones are weakened by calcium loss and fractures occur easily), a common problem for older men. Several small studies have looked at whether red clover can prevent or treat osteoporosis. One found that bone density did improve; another found no improvements but did find that there was no further loss during the year-long trial. Consequently, there is not enough information to draw firm conclusions.

What are the major benefits?

Small studies have shown that red clover isoflavones did have beneficial effects on the stiffness of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the body and on the function of the endothelium, which lines the arteries. One study showed it reduced blood pressure while another found no effect. Red clover may reduce cholesterol levels but, again, researchers have produced conflicting results.

What are the additional benefits?

Phytoestrogens such as red clover may reduce the risk of cancer, including prostate cancer. Despite promising laboratory results, small human studies have not shown clinical benefits. It is used to treat benign enlargement of the prostate (called benign prostatic hyperplasia or hypertrophy, or BPH). Traditional uses include as a mild antispasmodic for the relief of gastrointestinal symptoms, as an expectorant and treatment for chronic skin conditions, particularly eczema and psoriasis (often in combination with the herb yellow dock). Fresh red clover flowers can be chopped or mashed and applied directly to skin wounds such as insect bites. In animal studies, topical red clover preparations protected the skin against sun damage.

How do I take it?

For a liquid extract (1:1) in 25 percent alcohol: take 1.5 to 3.0 millilitres a day. Infusion or red clover extract: take 4 grams of red clover a day made into an infusion (tea) or as an extract in capsules or tablets. For concentrated isoflavone extract: take enough extract to provide 40 to 90 milligrams of isoflavones a day. Only mild side effects have been reported, including headache, muscle aches, nausea and rash.

If you have a hormone-dependent condition (such as prostate cancer), consult your doctor before taking red clover. Potentially, red clover may increase the effects of blood thinners such as warfarin and antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin; caution is advised. Before surgery, consult your surgeon about whether it is safe to continue taking red clover.


Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss: Myth or Miracle?

By Mary Ellen Ellis (Medically Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson PhD MSN RN IBCLC AHN-BC CHT)
Androgenetic alopecia: Male and female hair loss

Hair loss in both men and women is called androgenetic alopecia, and it’s common as everyone ages. It’s caused by the hormone testosterone, and its conversion into a molecule called DHT. This alteration causes hair follicles to shrink, resulting in hair loss. Men have more testosterone than women do, so balding is more common in men.

Men typically experience an M-shaped pattern of thinning hair, known as male pattern baldness. Thinning usually occurs all over the scalp in women and rarely results in complete baldness. Because hair loss is so common, it’s no wonder people turn to herbal remedies. Saw palmetto is one of the most popular that people use to try to slow down hair loss or to regrow hair.

Saw palmetto and hair loss

There are many treatments for hair loss. In recent years, hair pieces and hair extensions have gained popularity. Topical medications and oral drugs are other popular methods people use to treat thinning hair. Surgical procedures such hair plugs also work well. But medications can have side effects and surgery can be expensive.

Saw palmetto is an alternative remedy used to treat hair loss. It’s a plant with small berries that has been used by Native Americans as medicine and food for hundreds of years. There’s evidence that this herbal remedy may treat an enlarged prostate. It also has been used to treat:

• hair loss
• bladder infections
• prostate cancer
• decreased sex drive

Research on whether saw palmetto works to treat hair loss is limited but promising. An extract of saw palmetto berries may block 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. DHT is the molecule responsible for hair loss and also is involved in the enlargement of the prostate.

One study showed promise in saw palmetto’s ability to treat an enlarged prostate. Researchers hope it can slow or stop hair loss too. In fact, the components of saw palmetto that block the enzyme work in a similar way as synthetic ingredients in prescription medication for hair loss.

But research is limited on saw palmetto’s efficacy in treating hair loss. Still, one study showed positive results for men treated with topical saw palmetto and 10 percent trichogen veg complex. Nearly half of the 25 participants increased their hair count by 11.9 percent after four months of treatment.

The different forms of saw palmetto

Saw palmetto comes in several different forms, including:

• whole dried berries
• tablets
• liquid extracts
• powdered capsules

Tablets and capsules are the easiest to find and are the only forms that have been examined by researchers. Tea made from the dried berries of saw palmetto is unlikely to be effective because the active compounds aren’t water soluble.

Before taking any new supplement, it’s important to consult your doctor about safe dosage amounts. Experts recommend 160 milligrams, twice daily, for treating an enlarged prostate.

Side effects and interactions

Saw palmetto generally is considered to be safe, but it’s not recommended for children, or pregnant and breastfeeding women. Rare side effects include mild headaches and stomach pains. Stomach irritation can be avoided by taking the extract with food.

Saw palmetto may thin your blood and can cause excessive bleeding during surgery. Always tell your doctor all of the supplements you’re taking before beginning any new type of treatment and before surgery.

Interactions may occur between saw palmetto and some other medications. Because it’s been shown to thin blood, saw palmetto should never be taken simultaneously with other blood thinners. In particular, it shouldn’t be taken with aspirin and prescriptions such as warfarin.

Saw palmetto works in a similar manner as the medication finasteride, which is used to treat hair loss and an enlarged prostate. You should not take them together, unless directed by your doctor. Saw palmetto may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives because it interacts with hormones.

Outlook

Despite limited research, saw palmetto has been used for years to cure many things, including hair loss. It works in a similar way to some hair loss prevention medications. As with all supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor first before taking any. Also, stop taking them if you notice any severe side effects.


Saw Palmetto Can Improve Symptoms For Men With Urinary Problems

(University Of Chicago Medical Center)

A six-month-long carefully controlled study by physicians at the University of Chicago, published in the December issue of the journal Urology, shows that the herbal remedy saw palmetto can improve symptoms for men with lower urinary tract problems, but that it has no significant impact on urinary flow rates, quality of life, or sexual function.

Although several smaller, briefer and uncontrolled trials of saw palmetto (serona repens) have implied benefits from this herb, many physicians have remained skeptical.

Men with urinary symptoms -- such as an enlarged prostate, which can interfere with their efforts to empty their bladders -- have not shared these doubts. They spend more than $140 million a year on herbal preparations containing saw palmetto, making it one of the 10 best-selling herbal remedies.

"Our study provides the best evidence to date that saw palmetto can have a beneficial effect," said Glenn Gerber, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago and director of the study.

Gerber and colleagues at the University of Chicago and at the Dekalb Clinic, in Dekalb, Illinois, enrolled 94 men who complained of urinary retention in the trial. During the first month of the study all participants received a placebo capsule twice a day. After the first month, nine men who reported considerable improvement were removed from the trial.

The remaining 85 men were randomly selected to receive two capsules a day of either saw palmetto (provided by Nutraceutical Corp., Ogden, Utah) or a placebo.

After the one-month placebo "run-in period,' the study subjects filled out a standardized questionnaire about their urinary symptoms, a second questionnaire about sexual function, and a third questionnaire about quality of life. They also had their urinary flow rates measured. The tests were repeated two, four and six months into the trial.

After six months on the mediction, the men who received saw palmetto had a 4.4-point decrease (improvement) in their urinary symptom score, from an average of 16.7 down to 12.3. Men who received only the placebo also had a reduction but of only half the size, 2.2 points, from 15.8 down to 13.6.

There were no significant differences between the two groups in the other measurements. Peak urinary flow rates improved slightly in both groups. Self-assessed quality of life improved slightly in both groups. There was no change in sexual function.

This may not provide the final word on saw palmetto, which has not yet been compared with standard medications for an enlarged prostate, but it does "tell doctors how to talk to patients about this supplement," said Gerber. "Saw palmetto clearly offers symptomatic benefit as compared with placebo controls."

"We can tell patients that this appears to be a safe, well-tolerated substance that can produce short-term improvement of urinary symptoms," said Gerber. "But we also need to point out that we don't know why it works, and that the dose can vary widely and unpredictably in over-the-counter preparations, which may also include other untested herbal supplements."



7 Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto

(Andy, The Luxury Spot)

7 Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto: it’s more than just a hair-friendly remedy.

Most men dread hair loss, even though it’s a part of life, but one that most of us would rather avoid! Losing hair and going bald is something few of us can stop, though we haven’t stopped trying. With remedies like saw palmetto, many say they’ve found a way to turn back the clock and slow down hair loss.

Saw palmetto is said to help reduce the production of DHT, an androgen that is linked to hair loss. This would make saw palmetto one of the most effective natural remedies to reduce hair loss, and it has become hugely popular in the last few years as a result of this stream of thought in the natural sciences community.

But there’s more to it than just a way to prevent or slow hair loss! There are many more proposed health benefits of saw palmetto you need to know about:

1. Boost testosterone levels — Saw palmetto stops your body from producing 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that turns testosterone into DHT. When your body is NOT using testosterone to produce androgen, it means there is more testosterone available. Higher testosterone levels can lead to improve body functions, increased muscle mass, and many other benefits.
2. Improve prostate health — Saw palmetto has been linked to an improvement in prostate health. It has been proven effective at combatting BPH and a number of prostate health problems, particularly sexual dysfunction caused by reduced prostate function.
3. Increase urinary tract function –– Men with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH–a prostate health condition) have a hard time urinating. But saw palmetto has been proven to support healthy urinary tract function among men suffering from BPH. There are special receptors in the urinary tract that control urinary function, and saw palmetto helps to regulate the function and keep the urine flowing. Saw palmetto may also help to reduce urinary tract function in cases of Overactive Bladder.
4. Reduce hair loss –– We all know that saw palmetto is supposed to be effective as a treatment against hair loss, but do you know why? Simple: it stops your body from producing 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that turns testosterone into DHT. DHT is an androgen that leads to hair loss, so reducing DHT production is the key to slowing hair loss. While it won’t stop your hair from falling out completely, it will slow it down enough that it will take a lot longer for your hairline to recede and baldness to set in fully.
5. Increase libido –– Saw palmetto has been proven to boost testosterone levels in the human body, which means that it’s an excellent supplement to take to boost the libido of men. However, it can also increase sex drive in women as well. While women’s bodies don’t respond to testosterone the same way men’s bodies do, saw palmetto has been proven to be an effective stimulant for the female libido.
6. Increase muscle mass –– Thanks to the boost in testosterone caused by taking saw palmetto, you will be able to increase your muscle mass. Testosterone is the hormone that signals to your body that you need more muscle, so it will help you to build muscle via your workouts. To increase muscle building efforts significantly, you need more testosterone. Thanks to saw palmetto, you will have it!
7. Maximize kidney health — Your kidneys play a large role in your urinary tract function, but they may begin to work more slowly as you age. Saw palmetto has been proven to be an effective remedy to increase kidney function and boost the health of these important detoxifying organs. It may even help to treat and reduce your risk of kidney stones.



Popular herbal supplement used to treat prostate pain 'does not work', say experts

By Jenny Hope (Daily Mail)

A popular herbal supplement bought by men to relieve discomfort caused by an enlarged prostate does not work, say researchers.

Thousands of men take the remedy saw palmetto, which comes from the fruit of a type of palm tree, to improve urinary problems caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

But a new study found even taking three times the standard dose of the supplement produced no benefit.

Many older men take saw palmetto capsules bought from health food shops or on the internet as a first option when they are diagnosed, before drugs to make the prostate shrink or surgery.

It is the most popular supplement for BPH, and part of a growing £396 million a year market in health supplements.

The latest US research involved more than 300 men aged 45 and older who had moderate symptoms of a swollen prostate, including frequent urination and difficulty emptying their bladders.

They were randomly selected to receive a daily saw palmetto supplement or a ‘dummy’ placebo capsule that smelled and tasted the same.

After 24 weeks the saw palmetto dosage was increased from 320 milligrams to 640 milligrams. This was raised again to 960 milligrams 24 weeks later.

At the end of nearly 17 months, men taking the supplement and the placebo were still suffering identical symptoms.

Neither group of men knew who was taking the herbal remedy until the study was completed, according to results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study leader Professor Gerald Andriole, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, said ‘Now we know that even very high doses of saw palmetto make absolutely no difference.

‘Men should not spend their money on this herbal supplement as a way to reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate because it clearly does not work any better than a sugar pill.’

Prof Andriole said there was no benefit to taking the supplement compared with the dummy treatment, and it had no greater effect on symptoms.

Earlier studies have produced conflicting results, although Professor Edzard Ernst, Britain’s first professor of complementary medicine, recently said there was evidence to support its use.

Saw palmetto, which uses berries from a US palm in capsules, tablets, liquids and teas, has been registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a traditional herbal remedy to help relieve symptoms from an enlarged prostate.

However, registration is based on traditional use rather than the results of clinical studies.


12 Natural Remedies that Boost Hair Growth

By Michelle Schoffro Cook

Hair loss affects both men and women. While genetics plays a role, there are other factors, including: hormonal imbalances, an underactive thyroid gland, nutrient deficiencies and insufficient scalp circulation. Here are 12 natural remedies that can help boost hair growth:

Cut back on meat: Hormonal imbalances are a primary culprit in hair loss. Japanese researchers also link excessive sebum production in the scalp to high levels of 5-alpha reductase. Their research indicated that animal fat intake may increase sebum production.

Add the herb saw palmetto: A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported that saw palmetto (serenoa repens) may increase hair growth in men. Hair growth improved in men taking 400 mg of a standardized extract of saw palmetto and 100 mg of beta-sitosterol (from saw palmetto) daily. Historically, saw palmetto has been used by herbalists for hair loss in both men and women.

Address a possible underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) which can cause thinning hair: Add sea vegetables like kelp, nori, dulse, kombu and wakame, all of which are rich in iodine may be helpful to balance this condition. Avoid drinking tap water since it typically contains fluorine and chlorine, two chemicals that inhibit iodine absorption. You may also want to supplement with 100 mg or 1 mL of the herb bladderwrack (focus vesiculosus) daily. Work with a qualified holistic health care professional if you suspect a sluggish thyroid gland.

Get enough essential fatty acids: Essential fatty acids from walnuts, flaxseeds, fish and avocado are also important for healthy hair.

Boost bioton: Biotin encourages hair and scalp health. Dietary sources of biotin include: nuts, brown rice and oats.

Boost keratin production with MSM: Methylsulfonylmethane aids in the production of keratin (a protein in the hair) while doing double-duty to strengthen hair follicles. In one study 100 percent of people who supplemented with MSM showed reduced hair loss and increased growth in only six weeks.

Rejuvenate hair follicles with B-complex vitamins: 100 mg daily of a B-complex supplement that includes biotin and vitamin B6 can reduce hair thinning by increasing scalp circulation and rejuvenating hair follicles.

Rev up collagen production with vitamin C: Collagen surrounds the hair strands, but as we age collagen breaks down, causing hair to be more vulnerable to breaking. The best way to boost collagen is not through some expensive medical procedure, it’s by getting more vitamin C. Foods high in vitamin C include: citrus fruits, strawberries and red peppers. Supplementing with 250 mg daily can help boost collagen production which has the added bonus of reduced wrinkles.

Prevent breakage with vitamin E: Vitamin E is required to nourish damaged hair and to prevent breakage. It aids the body’s ability to manufacture keratin within hair strands to reduce breakage. Supplementing with 400 IU of vitamin E can be helpful to restore locks.

Eat foods rich in iron: Iron is also essential for hair growth and can be found in blackstrap molasses, green leafy vegetables, leeks, cashews, dried fruits, figs and berries. To help your body absorb iron, you’ll need enough vitamin C.

Give your hair a mineral boost: The minerals silica and zinc are also critical for hair growth. Take 500 mg of silica two times daily and 30 mg of zinc once daily.

Boost scalp circulation with rosemary essential oil: Rosemary essential oil has been traditionally used to increase circulation to the scalp. Add a few drops per dollop of shampoo or, better yet, add a few drops of rosemary to coconut oil and massage your scalp regularly.


Saw palmetto can improve men's symptoms

By Dónal O' Mathúna

RECENT ATTENTION to men's health issues, and prostate cancer in particular, is to be welcomed. The prostate gland can become enlarged in ways that are not cancerous.

This occurs in a few per cent of men in their late 40s, but about one-quarter of men in their 80s have the condition. Because the prostate is wrapped around the urethra at the base of the bladder, prostate problems cause difficulties with urination.

The symptoms range from embarrassing and irritating, to very painful conditions that can lead to serious problems.

A number of herbal remedies have reputations in promoting prostatic health. The most popular is saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

This condition can be difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are similar to those arising from other problems with the prostate, bladder or urinary tract. The most common symptoms are a frequent desire to urinate, especially during the night, but then having difficulty urinating.

Saw palmetto is also called the American dwarf palm tree and is native to US southeastern coastlands and the West Indies. Its scientific name is Serenoa repens, but it has other scientific and common names. The most widely used herbal remedy is a fat-soluble extract of its blue-black berries.

Evidence from studies

A Cochrane review of the evidence for saw palmetto found 11 studies of its use for BPH. Cochrane reviews are independent evaluations of a wide range of healthcare interventions. They are available free from any internet connection in Ireland thanks to funding from the Health Research Board (www.TheCochraneLibrary.org).

The 2002 review found that men taking saw palmetto had mild to moderate improvements in urinary symptoms.

Studies comparing saw palmetto with pharmaceutical treatments found similar subjective improvements with saw palmetto having fewer side effects, but the prostate size was reduced only by pharmaceutical drugs.

Few studies have compared saw palmetto with a placebo, with is an important limitation. BPH and other urinary tract conditions are strongly influenced by the placebo effect because measurements of urinary symptoms and "performance" are very subjective. Thus, two recent, relatively large studies that lasted one year found saw palmetto no better than placebo in objective and subjective measurements of BPH symptoms.

Problematic aspects

The adverse effects of saw palmetto are generally mild and less problematic than pharmaceutical medications. The most common side effects of saw palmetto are dizziness, headache and complaints such as nausea, vomiting or constipation.

There is no evidence that saw palmetto is beneficial for women, and it should not be taken by women of child-bearing age because it contains plant hormones that could interfere with pregnancy.

Self-medication with a herbal remedy can become problematic if it distracts someone from pursuing well-established health strategies.

While BPH is not believed to lead to prostate cancer, men with prostate cancer often have BPH as well. There is no evidence that saw palmetto treats pancreatic cancer. Large population studies have found that men taking saw palmetto do not have a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.

Anyone at high risk of prostate cancer should not rely on saw palmetto to prevent cancer and should seek medical advice.

Recommendations

A group of pharmaceuticals called alpha blockers effectively relieve the subjective symptoms of BPH and reduce enlarged glands. These should be viewed as the first line of treatment. Men who experience adverse effects from these medicines could consider a trial of saw palmetto, but only after discussions with healthcare professionals. Given that saw palmetto has few side effects, it may provide relief for some men with BPH.


Is Saw Palmetto Nature’s Cure For An Enlarged Prostate?

By Dr. David Samadi (Contributor)

An enlarged prostate also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), has been treated in various ways with one of them being the use of the dietary supplement saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is one of the most commonly used supplements by men with prostate cancer and BPH. In 2011, over $18 million of saw palmetto was sold in the United States, ranking it third among herbal dietary supplements.

Saw palmetto is a palm-like plant that grows like a tree or shrub in warm climates and can reach heights of up to 10 feet with clusters of leaves spreading out to 2 feet or more. Once a staple food of Native Americans living along coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, saw palmetto has been used as early as the 1900s by men to treat urinary tract issues and to increase sperm production and sex drive.

Whether saw palmetto is truly an effective use for treating BPH or not is still up for debate. More long-term studies are needed to say for sure if this alternative supplement is a viable option for BPH.

All men with an enlarged prostate should thoroughly discuss with their doctor first before using saw palmetto to treat BPH. It is generally thought of as safe when used under the guidance of a physician and may be a suitable alternative method of treatment for BPH.

Composition of saw palmetto

Saw palmetto has white flowers that produce yellow berries that turn brownish black when ripe and then are dried for medicinal use.

The active ingredients that make up the composition of saw palmetto are fatty acids, plant sterols, and flavonoids. There is also a saw palmetto extract which is an extract of the berry that is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols.

How does saw palmetto possibly help BPH?

Saw palmetto like many herbs, contains plant-chemicals that may be effective for BPH. What is not known is how saw palmetto works to do this. Research suggests that saw palmetto has an effect on the level of testosterone in the body and may possibly reduce the amount of an enzyme that promotes the growth of prostate cells.

It also appears saw palmetto has anti-inflammatory properties having a positive influence on the prostate gland. One study has showed that combining saw palmetto with the phytochemical lycopene and the mineral selenium produces an even greater anti-inflammatory effect.

Studies using animals have shown that saw palmetto inhibits the growth of tumor cells. This may demonstrate its possible usefulness in treating prostate cancer. Studies have also shown saw palmetto’s ability to improve urinary tract symptoms related to BPH but more research is necessary to definitively confirm this.

Here are some of the possible ways studies have shown on how saw palmetto may be effective for BPH:

· May reduce urinary frequency particularly during the night

· May reduce a man having trouble starting or maintaining urination

· May reduce the loss of libido

· May shrink the size of the prostate gland

The studies showing these results were short-term lasting no more than 3 months making it more difficult to say for certain if saw palmetto actually is effective for preventing BPH complications.

In what form does saw palmetto come in?

The supplement comes in a variety of forms and can be bought as dried berries, powdered capsules, tablets, liquid tinctures, and as an extract. Make sure the product label states that the contents contain 85-95% fatty acids and sterols. Purchase saw palmetto only from reputable companies.

Precautions

· Saw palmetto should not be given to children

· It may take up to 8 weeks to see any effects

· Saw palmetto is generally seen as safe but pay attention to any side effects it may produce – headache, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness

· A man should always seek his doctor’s advice first on appropriate treatment methods before self-treating with saw palmetto

· Pregnant or nursing women should not use saw palmetto as it may have similar effects to some hormones

· It may interfere with the absorption of iron

· It may have interactions with certain medications – always inform your doctor if using saw palmetto. Medications it may interfere with are Proscar, Warfarin, Plavix, Aspirin, oral contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy.


How to Transplant a Palmetto Tree

By Eric Kopp

OKEECHOBEE — As Brian Kelley watched the two stocky young men pour the saw palmetto berries into a plastic bin, he said it took him about six hours over a period of three days to pick the 610 pounds of berries.

“You can’t do it all in one day — it’ll kill you,” said the Okeechobee native, who added that he picked the berries from an area about 4 to 5 acres in size.

The acreage belongs to an older friend of his and, because of that, Mr. Kelley was going to give all of the money to his friend. The friend, he added, had helped him in the past and now it was his turn to give back.

And at the current rate of $1.60 per pound, Mr. Kelley gave a lot to his friend. Saw palmetto berries have been around for centuries and used for a number of herbal remedies.

The Mayans crushed the berries and drank them as a tonic; the Seminoles used them as an antiseptic; and, some people in the Far East believe the berries are a powerful aphrodisiac.

Saw palmetto berries, which grow wild in the Southeast — primarily, Florida and Georgia — have been picked and used to promote prostate health since the late 1800s by strengthening the bladder.

For these reasons, saw palmetto berries are a big business. And, unlike Mr. Kelley, many people are willing to break the law to harvest the herb.

The berries may have medicinal benefits, but those who pick them are the sources of major headaches for area law enforcement when they violate trespass laws to harvest the berries.

Deputies from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) has received numerous complaints in the last week dealing with people trespassing on private property.

In one case, Deputy Brant Harden responded to a call on U.S. 441 North regarding an estimated 20 men on a woman’s property.

“She has advised them to leave, but they won’t,” state OCSO dispatcher notes of the Aug. 13 incident.

In another case, Deputy DeMarcus Dixon responded to an Aug. 12 complaint on N.E. 84th Avenue where he actually found a young woman picking berries.

“I told her she was trespassed from the property and could face criminal charges if she returned to the property,” stated the deputy’s report.

There were two more similar complaints handled by other deputies that same day. Both of those incidents occurred in the northeastern portion of the county.

OCSO deputies also worked two similar trespass complaints Wednesday, Aug. 19. In one of those complaints Deputy William Jolly documented how a man returned to his N.E. 26th Ave. home to find “… fresh, muddy tire tracks coming off his driveway.”

As he looked about his property he also found footprints within 20 feet of his home. Then he found more footprints leading to a wooded pasture where someone had crossed a gate.

Upon further inspection he found palmetto berry stems, berries, two water bottles and a shirt.

“I am concerned whoever had the nerve to enter my property without my permission might come back,” said the property owner to the deputy.

Every day, the sheriff’s office receives these types of complaints throughout the month of August and into September.

And even though berry picking may sound easy, it’s anything but. Besides the scorching heat, palmetto berry pickers have to deal with wasps, mosquitoes and rattlesnakes — all, of which, like to call the dense plant home.

Lalo and Frankie Vargas know full well what pickers have to go through to harvest saw palmetto berries — they used to battle the blazing sun and unfriendly insects. But, now, they work in the shade of a tarp where they weigh the berries picked by others.

Once the two Fort Myers brothers have weighed the herbs, they hoist the containers onto a flatbed trailer and dump the contents into plastic containers that hold up to 1,000 pounds of berries.

Frankie was quick to point out they use industrial scales that are calibrated by the state and pointed to the green inspection tag stuck on the scale.

Lalo, 20, and Frankie, 17, work for their father Frank Vargas.

Wednesday, the Vargas brothers were paying $1.60 per pound for the berries. But, both said the market price fluctuates almost daily.

“I’ve seen it as high as $3,” said Frankie of the per-pound rate.

Every night the brothers fasten down the containers and take them to Fort Myers, where they are then sold to the highest bidder. Sometimes their load is light. Then, sometimes, all 10 containers on the trailer are filled to the brim with berries.

Lalo said the berry-picking season starts in early August and continues into September.

“It lasts a good month,” he added.

According to the Swanson Health Products web page 80 percent of world’s saw palmetto berry supply comes from Florida. It’s also noted on that page that Valensa Intl., of Eustis, is the only worldwide supplier of certified organic saw palmetto berries.


How to Transplant a Palmetto Tree

(San Francisco Gate)

If you live anywhere in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 8 through 10, the palmetto tree (Sabal palmetto) is a common sight; its large spreading fronds provide ample shade on a sunny day. Growing as tall as 50 feet, these palms prefer full sunlight and withstand heavy winds at coastal locations. Some gardeners have the palms in their gardens but may want to relocate them when installing a new garden fountain or pool. Transplanting the palmetto tree when it is at a medium height, such as 10 or 15 feet, is possible for the home gardener.

1. Create a hole in the soil for the palmetto tree's final location using a fuel-powered tree spade. The hole should be twice the trunk's diameter and able to hold the entire root system.

2. Cut around the base of the palmetto tree at an approximate 18-inch distance from the trunk itself with the tree spade. Remove the soil and place aside in a neat pile. You will need to use some of this soil for the final location.

3. Continue to dig the palmetto tree out from the ground. Slide a damp piece of burlap under the root system when it has loosened from the ground. Ask a friend to help you pull the palmetto tree from the ground. Lay it carefully on its side.

4. Prune the dead fronds from the palmetto tree's crown using pruning shears. Secure the remaining healthy fronds together with twine, much like creating a hairstyle ponytail.

5. Cut any long roots from the root system with the pruning shears. You should have a neat root ball after pruning; it should not extend more than 16 inches from the trunk's edges.

6. Continue to dampen the burlap while the palmetto tree is still lying on the ground. The stress of transplanting will be reduced with adequate water supplies to the roots.

7. Scoop the original soil carefully from the pile into the final planting location using the tree spade. Do not fill it too full; the root system will still need to reside just under the topsoil for proper transplantation.

8. Maneuver the tree carefully into the hole by holding the burlap and supporting the trunk structure. Slide the burlap out from under the root ball.

9. Fill the hole completely with the original soil using the tree spade. Gently tap the topsoil surface down to create a slope toward the trunk body. 10. Water the tree's base so that the slope holds the water without it streaming away from the plant.

11. Spread mulch around the base to a 3-inch depth. Do not let the mulch touch the trunk base. Keep a bare 3-inch distance between the mulch and the trunk to prevent any disease or rot from occurring to the new transplant.

Things You Will Need
• Fuel-powered tree spade
• Burlap material
• Pruning shears
• Twine
• Mulch

◘ Tip

If your palmetto tree is not in a sheltered position away from winds, you will need to brace it with angled wood. Two pieces placed 180 degrees from one another should lean against a constructed square wood block that surrounds the trunk for the best support.

◘ Warning

Do not attempt to transplant an adult palmetto tree yourself. Trees that are over 15 feet high should be moved by a professional tree company for your overall safety.




Saw Palmetto

(Life Extension)

As men grow older, many experience declining prostate health that significantly affects their lifestyle and well-being. One of the most common conditions threatening the prostate gland is benign prostatic hypertrophy. This swelling of the prostate gland can lead to myriad symptoms such as increased urinary frequency, weak urinary stream, and difficulty initiating urination.

For more than a century, saw palmetto (Sabal serrulata) has been recognized for its ability to relieve swelling of the prostate gland. In fact, saw palmetto is one of the most popular plant-derived remedies for benign prostatic hypertrophy. Doctors in Germany, Austria, and Italy use saw palmetto, along with other plant extracts like pygeum and nettle root, as a first-line treatment for enlargement of the prostate gland.

By helping to prevent the conversion of testosterone to its potent metabolite dihydrotestosterone (DHT), saw palmetto may have important implications for preventing hormone-related cancers in men, such as prostate cancer. Saw palmetto’s ability to modulate hormonal balance also makes it a promising candidate for preventing and treating hair loss, with initial studies demonstrating positive effects.

Benefits for Prostate Health

Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is a common condition that becomes increasingly prevalent in aging men. BPH affects 8% of all men at the age of 40, 60% of men in their seventies, and 90% of men in their eighties. One fourth of these men will develop moderate-to-severe lower urinary tract symptoms that will greatly affect their quality of life.

The prostate gland’s sole function is to secrete fluid containing substances needed for reproduction. This process requires an extremely high concentration of androgen hormones in the prostatic tissues. BPH seems to be related to the prostate’s long-term exposure to the strong androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT), as well as to estrogens. The enzyme necessary to convert testosterone into DHT is called 5-alpha-reductase.

Research has shown that saw palmetto is an effective inhibitor of 5-alpha-reductase activity in prostate gland tissue. In patients with BPH, saw palmetto relieved urinary symptoms as effectively as the pharmaceutical 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, finasteride (Proscar®). In addition to inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase activity, saw palmetto exerts anti-inflammatory effects that also may have complementary effects on prostate health.

Extensive research supports saw palmetto’s benefits for prostate health. An analysis of 2,939 men with symptomatic BPH found that those taking saw palmetto extract reported greater improvement of urinary tract symptoms and urinary flow measures compared to control subjects. Furthermore, the experimental group saw a decrease in episodes of nocturia (nighttime urination) and an improvement in peak urinary flow.

In one trial, researchers assessed the efficacy of 160 mg of saw palmetto given twice daily for two years. The study enrolled men with clinically diagnosed BPH and complaints of prostate symptoms. The patients were evaluated at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. At each subsequent evaluation, the patients’ quality of life and maximum urinary flow had improved, and both prostate size and symptoms had decreased. The study participants reported that sexual function remained stable for the first year of treatment and significantly improved during the second year. Another study examined men aged 45 or older with moderate-to-severe symptoms of BPH. After receiving placebo for one month, the men were randomly assigned to receive either saw palmetto or placebo for an additional six months. The men were evaluated using the International Prostate Symptom Score and measurement of urinary flow rate. The saw palmetto group experienced a significant decrease in its prostate symptom scores. Moreover, its quality-of-life scores increased to a greater degree than in those taking a placebo. The researchers concluded that saw palmetto significantly improved urinary symptoms compared to placebo. Potent Hormone-Modulating Effects

Growing numbers of aging adults are turning to a novel therapy called hormone restoration to fight the signs of aging and regain their youthful vitality. Proper hormone restorative therapy involves balancing and maintaining youthful levels of the body’s key hormones. For optimal health, pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), progesterone, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, and DHT all need to be in proper balance.

More and more men are using testosterone therapy to regain their youthful vigor. Testosterone not only can transform itself into DHT via the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, but also can convert to estradiol via the aromatase enzyme. These are undesirable effects, since elevated DHT may lead to enlargement of the prostate and possibly to loss of scalp hair. Furthermore, elevated estradiol in men has been linked to gynecomastia (breast enlargement in men), decreased sexual function, and weight gain.

Fortunately, such side effects of testosterone therapy can be avoided by taking some simple steps. Studies show that an extract of saw palmetto can block the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Research has also shown that zinc may block testosterone’s conversion (aromatization) to estradiol. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers examined the effects of zinc deficiency on androgen metabolism and aromatization. The formation of estradiol from testosterone was significantly greater in rats fed a zinc-deficient diet than in freely fed rats. The researchers concluded that zinc deficiency reduces circulating testosterone concentrations, alters hepatic steroid metabolism, and may increase circulating estradiol concentrations. Ensuring adequate zinc status may thus help prevent the undesirable conversion of testosterone to estradiol.

Preventing and Managing Hair Loss

Intriguing research suggests that supplementation with saw palmetto may prove useful in preventing and managing hair loss. It has been estimated that there are between 100,000 and 150,000 hairs on the human scalp. On average, between 50 and 150 hairs may be lost each day. Baldness occurs when this hair loss occurs at an abnormally high rate or when hair replacement occurs at an abnormally slow rate. About 95% of all cases of hair loss are the result of androgenic alopecia, or male pattern hair loss.

Biochemically, one contributing factor to this disorder is the conversion of testosterone to DHT via the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. Accordingly, agents that block the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme are attracting attention as treatments for androgenic alopecia.

Finasteride, marketed under the brand names Propecia® and Proscar®, is an FDA-approved treatment for men with androgenic alopecia. Clinical studies in balding men have demonstrated that finasteride reduces scalp DHT levels and improves hair growth, confirming DHT’s role in the pathophysiology of androgenic alopecia.17 Studies have shown that both finasteride and saw palmetto are effective inhibitors of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. However, researchers have also discovered that finasteride is associated with a greater risk of erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory disorders, and decreased libido.18 Thus, many men are seeking effective solutions for hair loss that are free of these side effects.

One study sought to examine saw palmetto’s effects in treating androgenic alopecia. The study followed 19 healthy men, aged 23-64, with mild-to-moderate androgenic alopecia. The men were given either 200 mg of saw palmetto and 50 mg of beta-sitosterol twice a day or a matching placebo for an average of 4.6 months. Overall hair assessment was determined using a standardized scale. The patients were asked to evaluate any changes with respect to their current satisfaction with their hair. Assessments were performed at baseline and at the study’s completion. Sixty percent of the study subjects were rated as improved at the final visit. Larger, gender-specific clinical trials are needed to further elucidate these promising initial findings.

Summary

For over 200 years, saw palmetto has been used to prevent and improve the symptoms associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy in men. Growing evidence indicates that supplementing with saw palmetto may also positively modulate the complex system of hormone metabolism in men and women alike. Saw palmetto’s effects on hormone metabolism may have important implications for hormone restoration programs as well as for supporting healthy hair growth and preventing hair loss.

Saw palmetto has no known drug interactions, and reported side effects are minor and rare. However, some health care practitioners have noted that high doses of saw palmetto may lead to a loss of libido in both men and women. Life Extension suggests a daily dose of 160 mg of saw palmetto for women and 160-320 mg for men.


Information on Saw Palmetto Plants

By Drue Tibbits

The most common palm tree in the United States is the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). They are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 10, growing in habitats as diverse as seaside sand dunes and swampy wetlands. Saw palmetto is not only an attractive landscape plant; it also does not require any maintenance and can live hundreds of years.

Features

Saw palmetto develops numerous leaves from thick stems. The stems may remain underground, lie on the soil surface or stand erect. When growing from underground stems, a single saw palmetto grows to 7 feet tall and 7 feet wide. It can spread to 20 feet wide when the stems grow on the soil surface in a clump form. When they grow into an erect form, the thick stems resemble trunks and the trees can reach as tall as 25 feet. Saw palmetto’s leaves are fan blades that grow to 3 feet wide. The plant earns its name from the petioles, or leaf stalks, edged with sharp spines. The tiny spines are sharp enough to easily cut skin or rip fabric. This is a slow-growing palm tree, with the trunk growing only a fraction of an inch each year. The fan blades, however, grow quickly and can reach their full size in a matter of weeks. Saw palmetto blooms from April to July, producing white flowers on stalked panicles that grow from the leaf axils. Fruit develops from fertilized flowers. The 1-inch ovoid fruit ripens from September to October and resembles blue-black grapes.

Growing Requirements

Saw palmetto spreads by rhizomes and seeds; it does not transplant well. It grows best in dry, well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. Most plants are started from nursery plants or rhizome cuttings, as seeds can take several years to germinate and become established. Plants or cuttings should be planted on 3- to 5-foot centers. This hardy palm will only need watering when it is first planted; once it shows new growth, it is virtually maintenance free and can be left alone. It does not need fertilizing or pruning, although removing dead leaves will improve its appearance. Saw palmetto has a very long life span; according the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, some specimens may be 700 years old.

Food Source

The apical meristem, or heart, of saw palmetto is edible. It provided food for pre-Columbian populations and early American Indian tribes. During the 16th century, the saw palmetto heart was a food source for Spanish settlers. Today, it provides food for wild animals such as black bears and feral pigs. The grapelike fruit is an important forage food as well. Many animals, including birds, foxes, whitetail deer and gopher tortoises, eat the fruit. Bees use the flower nectar to make palmetto honey.

Ecological Value

Saw palmetto provides cover for a wide variety of wildlife including sand skinks, burrowing owls and the threatened Florida scrub jay. Its low-clumping form is used as a hidden nesting place for species such as wild turkeys and whitetail deer. In addition, saw palmetto is resistant to fire and is one of the first plants to resume growing after forest fires. Although the fan leaves are flammable, the trunk rarely sustains permanent damage. Even when the plant burns to the ground, fan leaves will begin to grow again in just a few weeks.



How to Plant Saw Palmetto Bushes

(San Francisco Gate)

A type of fan palm, the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) produces bluish-green palmate fronds in a bush-like habit. Individual fronds can reach a width of 2 to 3 feet. The saw palmetto grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10 where it requires full sunlight and fast-draining, fertile soils. Planting this palm specimen proves most successful in the spring or early summer, once soil temperatures reach at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

1. Clear the planting site of rocks, weeds, plant material and other debris. Dig a hole in the site that is twice as wide and equal in depth to the saw palmetto's root ball. Space the hole 20 to 30 feet away from plants, buildings or other stationary objects in an area that contains 25 feet of unobstructed vertical space.

2. Slide the saw palmetto from its container or any wrappings around the root ball. Prune off any broken, dead, discolored or mushy roots with a pair of pruning shears. Place the plant in the center of the hole. Add or remove soil as needed from the hole to position the top of the root ball level with the surrounding ground.

3. Backfill the bottom one-half of the hole with soil, tamping it down firmly around the roots. Fill the hole with water from a garden hose. Wait for the water to drain through the soil and settle the soil.

4. Fill the remaining space in the hole with soil, tamping it down as before. Do not bury the root ball deeper than it was previously growing.

5. Build up a 3- to 6-inch-tall ring of soil around the perimeter of the buried root ball. Fill the resulting bowl with water. Wait for the water to drain into the soil. Add soil to any depressions formed from the water. Do not tamp the additional soil down while the ground is wet to avoid excessive soil compaction.

6. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of bark mulch over the planting site with a rake. Do not spread the mulch within 4 inches of the saw palmetto's trunk to prevent it from rotting.

7. Water the saw palmetto when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil become dry. Apply 1 inch of water for every 6 to 8 inches of root ball depth to provide a deep watering. Keep the soil evenly moist but never soggy.

8. Fertilize the saw palmetto three months after planting with a 12-4-12 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium slow-release granular fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer at a rate of 1 heaping tablespoon per square foot of soil. Spread the fertilizer in a 12-inch wide band around the saw palmetto, keeping it 6 to 12 inches away from the plant's trunk. Rake the granules into the top 3 inches of soil. Water the area immediately. Reapply the fertilizer every three months during the saw palmetto's active growing season. Things You Will Need

• Shovel
• Pruning shears
• Garden hose
• Bark mulch
• Rake
• 12-4-12 (n-p-k) slow-release granular fertilizer

◘ Warning

Plant saw palmettos away from walkways, driveways or children's play areas to prevent their sharply toothed fronds from causing injury.



The Growth Cycle of Saw Palmetto Palms

(San Francisco Gate)

Saw palmettos (Serenoa repens), native to the coastal plain from South Carolina to Louisiana, grow fan-shaped clumps of green or bluish-green leaves with sharp spines on their edges. They like sun and will tolerate moist soils and drought. You can grow them in your garden or as a slow-spreading groundcover in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10.

Seed Growth

Bees and insects pollinate fragrant white saw palmetto flowers that grow on stalked clusters. The flowers bloom from early spring through early summer, yielding 1-inch-wide, oblong bluish-black or black fruits that ripen in early fall. A saw palmetto will yield between 100 to 500 berries in mid to late June, after which the yield declines rapidly until the middle of October. Animals eat the fruit and spread the seeds through their feces. The covering on the seeds blocks oxygen, so germination is difficult, requiring up to six months. It is possible that the seeds naturally depend on the digestive tracts of animals to prepare them for germination.

Root Growth

Palmetto palm stems typically lie partly or completely underground, spreading from 10 to 15 feet wide. When a stem deteriorates at one end, new growth starts from the opposite end. Roots grow from the bottom of the stem near the growing tip. These roots usually grow about 12 inches down but may extend several feet in well-drained, sandy soils. Saw palmetto stems grow slowly, from 1/25 of an inch to 1 inch a year. Some plants have been estimated to be from 500 to 700 years old.

Leaf Growth

Light blue-green saw palmetto leaves grow near the tip of the growing stem. The spines on the edges are what give the plant its name. You should not plant a saw palmetto by a sidewalk or area where children play because the spines can cut. A plant will grow from three to seven leaves a year, each of which lasts about two years. When a leaf dies, it remains on the plant and is extremely flammable. Cultivars with silver leaves are especially attractive decorative plants.

Growth After Fire

In its natural habit, the growth of saw palmettos is encouraged by fires during the growing season. Fire destroys competition by woody plants including gallberry (Ilex glabra), staggerbrush (Lyonia ferruginea), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and runner oaks (Quercus spp.), plus lop-sided indiangrass (Sorghastrum), bluestem species (Andropogon spp.), wire grass (Aristida beyrichiana) and other herbaceous plants.


5 natural remedies to fight against hair loss or alopecia

By Anuradha Varanasi

Worried about hair thinning and male or female pattern baldness? You could try these five herbal remedies to fight against hair loss.

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women and is most commonly known as male or female pattern baldness. These are the different types of hair loss you should know about. Dealing with alopecia can be stressful because of how expensive anti hair loss treatments can be. Instead of that, you could try out these five herbal remedies to stop hair loss and stimulate hair re-growth to an extent. Did you know,your hairstyle can make you bald?

Pumpkin Seed oil

Researchers have found that consuming 400 mg or four capsules of pumpkin seed oil per day for 24 weeks was effective in not only fighting against hair loss, but also stimulating hair growth . Around 76 men participated in the study and after 24 weeks, a 40% increase in hair growth was observed. Here are 10 reasons to eat pumpkin seeds.

Grape seed extract

Japanese researchers have found that grape seed extract can be effective in fighting against hair loss and stimulating hair growth as it contains vitamin E, flavonoids, linoleic acid and other compounds . However, the doses of grape seed capsules vary from 200 mg to 450 mg and has reported side effects like nausea, dizziness , headaches and high blood pressure. Consult your doctor before consuming grape seed capsules. These are the 9 health benefits of grapes.

Green tea

Korean researchers claim that green tea can help in the prevention and treatment of androgenetic alopecia as it contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) because it was found effective in stimulating hair growth. You can reap the benefits by consuming green tea or massaging it into your scalp after washing your hair. Read about the 6 amazing beauty benefits of green tea.

Panax ginseng

This herb has been found to prevent hair loss and hair damage in mice following a study conducted by Korean researchers. It is known to stimulate blood supply to the scalp and hence also promote hair growth . The extracts are available in powdered or capsule forms and the recommended dose is 100-200 mg per day. However, consult your doctor as it acts as a blood thinner and is known to have certain side-effects like diarrhea, vomiting, headaches and other conditions.

Saw palmetto

Studies have found that saw palmetto is effective in fighting against androgenetic alopecia and can help in stimulating hair growth in the vertex region of the scalp. In this study, 100 males with mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia participated and researchers concluded that 320 mg of saw palmetto each day for 24 months could help in fighting against alopecia .

Saw palmetto is a natural herb that is commonly grown in North America and has the ability to block an enzyme, 5-alpha-reductase, that leads to androgenetic alopecia. You can consume saw palmetto orally in the form of a capsule or apply the oil to the scalp regularly to see some results. This herbal remedy is also effective for female pattern baldness.


Saw Palmetto for Hair Loss: Myth or Miracle?

By Mary Ellen Ellis (Medically Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson PhD MSN RN IBCLC AHN-BC CHT)
Androgenetic alopecia: Male and female hair loss

Hair loss in both men and women is called androgenetic alopecia, and it’s common as everyone ages. It’s caused by the hormone testosterone, and its conversion into a molecule called DHT. This alteration causes hair follicles to shrink, resulting in hair loss. Men have more testosterone than women do, so balding is more common in men.

Men typically experience an M-shaped pattern of thinning hair, known as male pattern baldness. Thinning usually occurs all over the scalp in women and rarely results in complete baldness. Because hair loss is so common, it’s no wonder people turn to herbal remedies. Saw palmetto is one of the most popular that people use to try to slow down hair loss or to regrow hair.

Saw palmetto and hair loss

There are many treatments for hair loss. In recent years, hair pieces and hair extensions have gained popularity. Topical medications and oral drugs are other popular methods people use to treat thinning hair. Surgical procedures such hair plugs also work well. But medications can have side effects and surgery can be expensive.

Saw palmetto is an alternative remedy used to treat hair loss. It’s a plant with small berries that has been used by Native Americans as medicine and food for hundreds of years. There’s evidence that this herbal remedy may treat an enlarged prostate. It also has been used to treat:

• hair loss
• bladder infections
• prostate cancer
• decreased sex drive

Research on whether saw palmetto works to treat hair loss is limited but promising. An extract of saw palmetto berries may block 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. DHT is the molecule responsible for hair loss and also is involved in the enlargement of the prostate.

One study showed promise in saw palmetto’s ability to treat an enlarged prostate. Researchers hope it can slow or stop hair loss too. In fact, the components of saw palmetto that block the enzyme work in a similar way as synthetic ingredients in prescription medication for hair loss.

But research is limited on saw palmetto’s efficacy in treating hair loss. Still, one study showed positive results for men treated with topical saw palmetto and 10 percent trichogen veg complex. Nearly half of the 25 participants increased their hair count by 11.9 percent after four months of treatment.

Side effects and interactions

Saw palmetto generally is considered to be safe, but it’s not recommended for children, or pregnant and breastfeeding women. Rare side effects include mild headaches and stomach pains. Stomach irritation can be avoided by taking the extract with food.

Saw palmetto may thin your blood and can cause excessive bleeding during surgery. Always tell your doctor all of the supplements you’re taking before beginning any new type of treatment and before surgery.

Interactions may occur between saw palmetto and some other medications. Because it’s been shown to thin blood, saw palmetto should never be taken simultaneously with other blood thinners. In particular, it shouldn’t be taken with aspirin and prescriptions such as warfarin.

Saw palmetto works in a similar manner as the medication finasteride, which is used to treat hair loss and an enlarged prostate. You should not take them together, unless directed by your doctor. Saw palmetto may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives because it interacts with hormones.

Outlook

Despite limited research, saw palmetto has been used for years to cure many things, including hair loss. It works in a similar way to some hair loss prevention medications. As with all supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor first before taking any. Also, stop taking them if you notice any severe side effects.


Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

(Sasha, Vox Nature)

Saw palmetto extract comes from the flower of the fan palm. It is the extract of this flower that is used to treat ailments such as a lackluster sexual appetite and kidney stones. Saw Palmetto Benefits

Below are some of the ways in which saw palmetto can be used. 1. Sexual Health

Saw palmetto extract has been used for years to address impotence in men. While research isn’t clear about why it works, it is obvious that it does indeed work to boost sexual performance. It not only works for men, saw palmetto is also an effective aphrodisiac for women. 2. Kidney Health

Saw palmetto can help address urinary incontinence by strengthening the bladder and urinary tract, which will also help keep the kidneys functioning properly. If you are suffering from or at increased risk for kidney stones, try incorporating saw palmetto into your diet. 3. Prostate Health

Prostate cancer is often related to prostate enlargement, and saw palmetto helps to reduce prostate enlargement that occurs naturally over time. Saw palmetto, therefore, helps keep the prostate healthy and reduces your chance of becoming a victim of prostate cancer. 4. Muscle Mass

Saw palmetto has increasingly been used as a workout supplement to help weightlifters put on more weight and increase definition. While more research needs to be done, a positive link has been shown between saw palmetto intake and an increase in testosterone production, which makes it very likely that the supplement could help one increase muscle mass as well. 5. Healthy Hair

Saw palmetto is also used to increase hair growth, another side effect of its effect on testosterone production. If you are male and balding, saw palmetto may be a good option for you to increase hair growth. Studies support the belief that consuming saw palmetto supplement can slow or reverse male-pattern baldness.

If you are female, however, beware, as the increase in testosterone may also cause hair to grow where you don’t want it (e.g. the face). 6. Boosts Immune System

Serenoa repens provides general support to the immune system, helping strengthen it against minor colds, coughs, and flu viruses. Some that suffer from migraines or regular headaches also claim that saw palmetto has helped with their symptoms. How to Use Saw Palmetto

Many natives consume saw palmetto berries as they are found in nature, and some prefer to use it in a brewed tea.

To make saw palmetto tea, gather 1/4 cup of the fresh berries and put them into a small pan that is not aluminum. If using dried saw palmetto berries, use 2 teaspoons. To the pan add 2 cups of boiling water and stir well. Cover the pan and let it sit for 15 minutes. Add in 1 tablespoon of honey and 1/4 teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract. To add a little sweetness, add a pinch of stevia. This will make the tea a bit more palatable. Pour the tea through a strainer. Transfer the tea into a cup and then consume it. The berries can be reserved and reused or a second batch.

You can also find the extract in the form of a capsule, tincture or powder. Caution

While saw palmetto does have many positive health benefits, it can also cause some negative side effects. If you are on blood thinners or any prostate medication, it is imperative that you discuss the possible side effects with your doctor or herbalist before incorporating saw palmetto into your regimen.

Some side effects of consuming saw palmetto include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and dizziness. If you experience any of these side effects, stop using saw palmetto right away and consult your physician.



5 Proven Uses For Saw Palmetto Supplements

By Marc Seward

Despite its relatively recent mainstream popularity, saw palmetto has been used medicinally for centuries by certain cultures, notably Native Americans. By the early 20th century, saw palmetto had already developed a reputation for being able to treat infections of the urinary tract ant to increase the production of sperm.

More recently, it has been widely used and marketed for its ability to treat a variety of prostate issues although some of the results of many earlier studies have come under scrutiny following some recent research reviews.

What is saw palmetto?

Saw palmetto or Serenoa repens is a palm species which grows up to ten feet in height and is native to warm climates of the West Indies and the USA. The extract which is used medicinally is derived from the purple berries which grow on the saw palmetto palm in warm climates.

The plant has long been used medicinally because of its therapeutic compounds which include plant sterols, fatty acids and flavonoids. The plant is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties which can stave off bodily inflammation and prevent many diseases.

Traditionally it has been used for a wide range of conditions including coughs, sore throat, asthma, bronchitis, headaches and migraine but it is its purported ability to treat prostate issues which has made it such a popular supplement in recent times.

According to reports, saw palmetto was the third highest selling herbal supplement in 2011 with sales in excess of 18 million dollars much of which can be attributed to its ability to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia and its popularity among men suffering from prostate cancer.

Saw Palmetto and Hormones

The reason that saw palmetto is so popular in those with prostate conditions is that it can slow down the production of an enzyme called 5 alpha reductase an enzyme which converts testosterone into a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone).

Although DHT performs important functions in men, it can also contribute towards a number of male health issues including enlarged prostate, hair loss and poor libido which are especially apparent in older males. Supplementing with saw palmetto keeps the production of DHT in check and helps you avoid these issues.

The Role of the Prostate

The prostate is responsible for creating part of the liquid which protects sperm cells and increasing the liquidity of the semen. The prostate gland is unique to males and is located beneath the bladder. As we age, so the size of the prostate increases from walnut size to something far larger in the middle age and late life. DHT is the hormone most responsible for the excessive growth of the prostate. Complications can occur when your prostate becomes too large including BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia and certain issues with the urinary tract.

Main Therapeutic Benefits

1. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

BPH is a common cause of enlarged prostate; as men age, the prostate gland tends to get inflamed and enlarged. As a result, the urethra is compressed by the prostate which leads to several complications such as difficulty urinating, bladder infections or bladder stones.

Estimates suggest that half the male population will have BPH by the time they reach 60 and a quarter of those with BPH end up with urinary tract problems. Early research demonstrated that saw palmetto was able to inhibit testosterone from stimulating the prostate cells which prevented enlargement of the prostate gland.

Saw palmetto was also considered to be a much safer, natural alternative to pharmaceutical BPH treatments which can cause sexual dysfunction.

One Swiss study published in 2012 analyzed the effects of saw palmetto supplements on 82 men over the course of 2 months. Patients were given 320 mgs of saw palmetto daily and by the conclusion of the trial they found significant improvements as well as confirming that the extract was well-tolerated.

Despite many positive findings in earlier pieces of research, 2 recent reviews have poured some cold water on the earlier findings and definitely proved damaging to the claims that saw palmetto could help with BPH. One review conducted by The University of Minnesota stated in its conclusion that the effects of saw palmetto were no better in treating BPH than a placebo effect.

There is certainly some controversy regarding these reviews and the methodologies used to come to the conclusions and I would recommend that you read the full reviews and make up your own minds.

2. Prostate Cancer

Saw palmetto is among the most common supplements taken by patients with prostate cancer. Because it may prevent the production of DHT responsible for prostate enlargement, it may also prevent some cases of prostate cancer which are linked to the enlargement of the gland. The jury is still out regarding the effects of saw palmetto but research has found that men taking 5 alpha reductase inhibitors such as Proscar and Avodart were less at risk from developing prostate cancer.

While these prescription drugs are linked to certain complications like the loss of libido, saw palmetto inhibited DHT naturally and is well-tolerated with few known side effects. There is also some scientific evidence that saw palmetto could hinder the growth of prostate cancer cells and might even destroy harmful cells.

3. Hair Loss

To date, there is a very limited amount of credible evidence that saw palmetto can help treat hair loss but what evidence we have seems to be promising. The mechanism by which it might work is the same inhibitory action that saw palmetto has on 5-alpha reductose.

This helps keep the production of DHT in check and DHT is responsible for the unfortunate loss of hair men experience as we age. Because earlier studies had demonstrated that saw palmetto could treat prostate enlargement, researchers believed that it could also slow down the progress of hair loss.

Saw palmetto is believed to block those enzymes responsible for you losing your hair in similar manner to the chemical ingredients in commercially available hair loss prescription medications.

A small scale study published in 2006 showed that 6 of the 10 participants involved experienced positive results from taking saw palmetto supplements twice daily for 2 months. (4) The researcher concluded by stating that the results justified further larger scale trials.

Another study involving 62 male and female participants found that saw palmetto topically applied when mixed with shampoo improved hair density in 35% of the participants.

4. Urological system

According to various pieces of research, taking saw palmetto supplements helped ease urinary tract complications in men suffering from BPH. BPH is one of the cause of urinary tract complications in men. It has also been recommended for elderly people of both sexes who may be experiencing a weakening of their urinary organs as well as being recommended to treat kidney stones and bladder infections.

A comprehensive review of 18 trials including nearly 3000 patients published in 1998 concluded that saw palmetto was effective in treating urological complaints and improving urine flow. (5)

5. Other potential benefits

Because saw palmetto supplements can help control healthy testosterone levels, it may be able to aid weight loss and improve muscle mass. It is also said to be effective in increasing sex drive and to improve pain response. Low levels of testosterone are linked to chronic fatigue, reduced libido and a general feeling of malaise.

Dosing

Saw palmetto is available in several different forms including whole dried berry form, capsules, tablets and liquid extract. The generally recommended dose is 160 mgs taken twice a day for prostate conditions though the participants in the hair loss experiment took 200 mgs twice a day.

Safety
• Saw palmetto is generally considered safe but infrequent side effects are possible. Reported side effects include stomach pains and mild headaches.
• Saw palmetto is not a recommended supplement for children.
• It may act as a blood thinner and should not be taken if you are due to have surgery.
• Because it might thin the blood, interactions with blood thinning medications like aspirin or warfarin are possible.
• If in doubt, always consult your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.

Saw Palmetto

(Life Script)

Saw palmetto is a native plant of North America, and it is still primarily grown in the United States.

The saw palmetto tree grows only about 2 to 4 feet high, with fan-shaped serrated leaves and abundant berries. Native Americans used these berries for the treatment of various urinary problems in men, as well as for women with breast disorders. European and American physicians took up saw palmetto as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In the 1960s, French researchers discovered that by concentrating the oils of saw palmetto berry they could maximize the herb's effectiveness.

Saw palmetto contains many biologically active chemicals. Unfortunately, we don't know which ones are the most important. We also don't really know how saw palmetto works; it appears to interact with various sex hormones, but it also has many other complex actions that could affect the prostate.

What Is Saw Palmetto Used for Today?

Saw palmetto oil is an accepted medical treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in New Zealand and in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and other European countries.

Typical symptoms of BPH include difficulty starting urination, weak urinary stream, frequent urination, dribbling after urination, and waking up several times at night to urinate. Most, thought not all, research suggests that saw palmetto can markedly improve all these symptoms. Benefits require approximately 4 to 6 weeks of treatment to develop. It appears that about two-thirds of men respond reasonably well.

Furthermore, while the prostate tends to continue to grow when left untreated, 1 saw palmetto causes a small but definite shrinkage. In other words, it isn't just relieving symptoms, but may actually be delaying prostate enlargement. The drug Proscar does this too (and to a greater extent than saw palmetto) but other standard medications for BPH have no effect on prostate size.

Some studies suggest that saw palmetto is equally effective for reducing BPH symptoms as Proscar, and it has one meaningful advantage: It leaves PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels unchanged. Cancer raises PSA levels, and lab tests that measure PSA are used to screen for prostate cancer. Proscar lowers PSA measurements, and therefore, its use may have the unintended effect of masking prostate cancer. Saw palmetto won't do this. On the other hand, Proscar has been shown to reduce the need for surgery, unlike saw palmetto or any of the other drugs used for BPH.

Saw palmetto may also be equally as effective as another class of standard drugs known as alpha blockers, but may cause fewer side effects.

Note : Before self-treating with saw palmetto, be sure to get a proper medical evaluation to rule out prostate cancer.

Saw palmetto is also widely used to treat chronic prostatitis . An open trial that compared saw palmetto to the drug Proscar for the treatment of chronic nonbacterial prostatitis found that while the drug was effective, the herb was not. However, these results do not mean that saw palmetto is ineffective for prostatitis. Because this was an open study, researchers and participants knew who was getting saw palmetto and who was getting the drug. If there was any expectation that the drug would be more powerful than the herb, this in itself would be sufficient to skew the results toward that outcome.

Saw palmetto is sometimes recommended as a treatment for hair loss, but there is no evidence at all that it is effective for this purpose.

What Is the Scientific Evidence for Saw Palmetto?

-BPH

The scientific evidence for the effectiveness of saw palmetto in treating prostate enlargement is inconsistent.

At least 10 double-blind studies involving a total of about 900 people have compared the benefits of saw palmetto against placebo over periods of 1 to 12 months. In all but three of these studies, the herb improved urinary flow rate and most other measures of prostate disease to a greater extent than placebo. However, in the most recent and perhaps best-designed of these studies, a 1-year trial of 225 men, a saw palmetto failed to prove more effective than placebo. Furthermore, a large review of 14 trials with 5,222 men found that saw palmetto did not improve urinary symptom scores or peak urine flow compared to placebo. Subjects taking saw palmetto reported more overall symptom improvement than those taking placebo, but this result is questionable due to inconsistencies among studies. Adding to the unsupportived evidence, a more recent well designed, placebo-controlled trial involving 369 men found that saw palmetto even at high doses (three times the standard dose) did not improve urinary flow rate compared to placebo.

A double-blind study followed 1,098 men who received either saw palmetto or the drug Proscar over a period of 6 months. (Unfortunately, there was no placebo group.) The treatments were equally effective, but while Proscar lowered PSA levels and caused a slight worsening of sexual function on average, saw palmetto caused no significant side effects. Both treatments caused the prostate to shrink, but Proscar had a greater effect.

A 52-week, double-blind study of 811 men compared saw palmetto to a standard drug in another class: the alpha-blocker tamsulosin. Once again, both treatments proved equally effective. However, saw palmetto caused fewer side effects than the drug. In addition, the herb caused some prostate shrinkage, while the drug caused a slight prostate enlargement.

A study involving 435 men found that the benefits of saw palmetto endure for at least 3 years. However, there was no control group in this study, making the results unreliable.

A 48-week, double-blind trial of 543 men with early BPH compared combined saw palmetto and nettle root against Proscar and found equal benefits. Benefits were also seen with a combination of saw palmetto and nettle root in a 24-week, placebo-controlled study of 257 men.

Finally, a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 44 men given a saw palmetto herbal blend (containing, in addition, nettle root and pumpkin seed oil) found shrinkage in prostate tissue. No significant improvement in symptoms was seen, but the authors pointed out that the study size was too small to statistically detect such improvements if they did occur.

Dosage

The standard dosage of saw palmetto for the treatment of BPH is 160 mg twice a day of an extract standardized to contain 85% to 95% fatty acids and sterols. A single daily dose of 320 mg may be just as effective for this condition. However, taking more than this amount does not, on average, seem to produce better results. As with many other herbs, the quality of commercial saw palmetto products may vary widely. 28 For this reason, it is best to purchase a saw palmetto product that has been evaluated by an independent lab, such as Consumer Labs .

Safety Issues

Saw palmetto is thought to be essentially nontoxic. 24 In addition, in clinical trials, it has shown little to no adverse effects. For example, in a one-year randomized trial of 225 men, there was no significant difference in adverse events between the groups receiving saw palmetto and placebo. And, in a 3-year study, only 34 of the 435 participants complained of side effects, and these were primarily only of the usual nonspecific variety seen with all medications, such as mild gastrointestinal distress.

There are at least two case reports in which use of saw palmetto was linked to liver inflammation; however, a subsequent study in rats failed to find that even very high doses of saw palmetto are injurious to the liver. This case report might have been an instance of an allergic or other idiosyncratic reactions; alternatively, something other than saw palmetto may have gotten into the product. One of the above-mentioned cases also involved pancreatitis.

Finally, there is one report of saw palmetto apparently causing excessive bleeding during surgery. The significance of this isolated event isn't clear, but it is probably prudent to avoid saw palmetto prior to and just after surgery, and during the period surrounding labor and delivery. Individuals with bleeding problems (such as hemophilia) should perhaps also avoid saw palmetto, as should those taking any drug that "thins" the blood, such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, aspirin , clopidogrel (Plavix) , ticlopidine (Ticlid) , and pentoxifylline (Trental) .

Saw palmetto has no known drug interactions. Safety for pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe kidney or liver disease, has not been established.


Does Saw Palmetto Affect Testosterone?

By Erica Cirino (Medically Reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD)
What is saw palmetto?

Saw palmetto is a small type of palm tree found in Florida and parts of several other Southeastern states. It has long green, pointed leaves like many types of palm trees, but also branches with small berries.

Native Americans belonging to the Seminole tribe in Florida traditionally ate its berries for food and to treat urinary and reproductive problems associated with an enlarged prostate gland. They also used it to treat cough, indigestion, sleeping problems, and infertility problems.

How is saw palmetto used today?

Today people use saw palmetto mostly to treat the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

The fruit of saw palmetto is available in several forms, including liquid tablets, capsules, and tea.

Saw palmetto is widely used by medical practitioners in Europe. Doctors in the United States are more skeptical of its benefits. While it’s not strongly embraced by the American medical community, it’s still the country’s most popular herbal treatment for BPH. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commonly recommends saw palmetto as an alternative treatment for BPH. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 2 million American men use saw palmetto to treat BPH.

Saw palmetto is also sometimes used to treat:

• low sperm count
• low sex drive
• hair loss
• bronchitis
• diabetes
• inflammation
• migraine
• prostate cancer
Saw palmetto and the prostate

The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. It’s a walnut-sized gland located inside the body between the bladder and urethra. Your prostate typically gets bigger with age. However, a prostate gland that grows too large can place pressure on your bladder or urethra. This can cause urinary problems.

Saw palmetto works by stopping the breakdown of testosterone into its byproduct, called dihydrotestosterone. This helps the body hold onto more of its testosterone and create less dihydrotestosterone. This can slow or stop the growth of the prostate gland.

By stopping prostate growth, saw palmetto can help alleviate some of the symptoms of BPH, including:

• frequent urination
• increased urination at night (nocturia)
• trouble starting a urine stream
• weak urine stream
• dribbling after urinating
• straining while urinating
• inability to completely empty the bladder
Saw palmetto and libido

Low testosterone levels are associated with low libido in both men and women. Saw palmetto can boost libido by increasing the body’s levels of testosterone.

In men, sperm production is guided by testosterone. Too little testosterone results in low sperm count. Similarly, testosterone plays a role in women’s production of eggs, with too little testosterone reducing egg production. In this way, saw palmetto can increase both male and female fertility by increasing the body’s testosterone level.

Saw palmetto and hair loss

High levels of dihydrotestosterone are associated with hair loss, while high levels of testosterone are associated with hair growth. Some men take saw palmetto so their body’s level of dihydrotestosterone decreases and level of testosterone increases. This can reduce hair loss and sometimes promote hair regrowth.

Side effects of saw palmetto

While saw palmetto is widely used, it does occasionally cause side effects in some people. These side effects can include:

• dizziness
• headache
• nausea
• vomiting
• constipation
• diarrhea

While research on the safety of saw palmetto is ongoing, the FDA urges pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid using saw palmetto. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it’s probably unsafe for pregnant and breastfeeding women because it affects hormonal activity in the body.

Interactions with other medications

People taking certain medications should avoid saw palmetto. It may interfere with the following drugs: Birth control or contraceptive drugs

Most birth control pills contain estrogen, and saw palmetto can reduce the effects of estrogen in the body. Anticoagulants/antiplatelet drugs

Saw palmetto can slow blood clotting. When it’s taken along with other medications that slow blood clotting, it can increase your chances of bruising and bleeding.

Drugs that can slow blood clotting include:

• aspirin
• clopidogrel (Plavix)
• diclofenac (Voltaren)
• ibuprofen
• naproxen
• heparin
• warfarin

As with all supplements, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor about whether saw palmetto might be right for you.


Ask the doctor: Saw palmetto and prostate health

By William Kormos, M.D. (Editor in Chief, Harvard Men's Health Watch)

Harvard Men's Health Watch

Q. Some of my friends take saw palmetto supplements to reduce urinary problems caused by an overgrown prostate, which I was recently diagnosed with. My friends swear by it, but is there any good evidence this stuff helps? Is saw palmetto safe?

A. The short answer is that we don't have great scientific evidence that taking saw palmetto truly reduces male urinary problems. On the other hand, it doesn't appear to cause major side effects either.

Many men try extracts of the saw palmetto (dwarf palm) tree as a "natural" treatment for urinary symptoms associated with noncancerous or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In BPH, the prostate gland grows larger than normal. This causes problems such as difficulty starting to urinate and having to urinate frequently at night (nocturia).

A number of studies have compared saw palmetto to a placebo over months to years. Men who took the saw palmetto didn't notice any greater improvement than did the men who took the "fake" pill—even at doses of three times the usual of 320 milligrams. However, up to 40% of men in such studies who took the placebo said they felt better, which helps to explain why a lot of men think saw palmetto helps them.


Doctor’s Orders: Consider Taking Saw Palmetto for BPH

By David Samadi

An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is treated in various ways, including use of the dietary supplement saw palmetto, a palm-like plant that grows like a tree or shrub in warm climates and can reach heights of up to 10 feet with clusters of leaves spreading out to 2 feet or more. Native Americans living along coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida have long relied on saw palmetto to treat urinary tract issues and to increase sperm production and sex drive.

More than $18 million of saw palmetto was sold in the United States, ranking it third among herbal dietary supplements. But whether the supplement is truly an effective use for treating BPH or not is still up for debate. More long-term studies are needed to verify its effectiveness.

Composition of saw palmetto

Saw palmetto has white flowers that produce yellow berries that turn brownish black when ripe and then are dried for medicinal use.

The active ingredients that make up the composition of saw palmetto are fatty acids, plant sterols, and flavonoids. There is also a saw palmetto extract which is an extract of the berry that is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols.

How does saw palmetto possibly help BPH?

Saw palmetto, like many herbs, contains chemicals that may be effective for BPH. What is not known is how saw palmetto works to do this. Research suggests that saw palmetto effects the level of testosterone in the body and may possibly reduce the amount of an enzyme that promotes the growth of prostate cells.

It also appears saw palmetto has anti-inflammatory properties having a positive influence on the prostate gland. One study has showed that combining saw palmetto with the phytochemical lycopene and the mineral selenium produces an even greater anti-inflammatory effect.

Studies using animals have shown that saw palmetto inhibits the growth of tumor cells. This may demonstrate its possible usefulness in treating prostate cancer. Studies have also shown saw palmetto’s ability to improve urinary tract symptoms related to BPH but more research is necessary to definitively confirm this.

Here are some of the possible ways studies have shown on how saw palmetto may be effective for BPH:

• May reduce urinary frequency particularly during the night
• May reduce a man having trouble starting or maintaining urination
• May reduce the loss of libido
• May shrink the size of the prostate gland

The studies showing these results were short-term lasting no more than 3 months making it more difficult to say for certain if saw palmetto actually is effective for preventing BPH complications.

In what form does saw palmetto come in?

The supplement comes in a variety of forms and can be bought as dried berries, powdered capsules, tablets, liquid tinctures, and as an extract. Make sure the product label states that the contents contain 85-95% fatty acids and sterols.

Precautions
• Saw palmetto should not be given to children
• It may take up to 8 weeks to see any effects
• Saw palmetto is generally seen as safe but pay attention to any side effects it may produce – headache, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness
• A man should always seek his doctor’s advice first on appropriate treatment methods before self-treating with saw palmetto
• Pregnant or nursing women should not use saw palmetto as it may have similar effects to some hormones
• It may interfere with the absorption of iron
• It may interact with certain medications—Proscar, Warfarin, Plavix, Aspirin, oral contraceptives, and hormone replacement therapy—so always inform your doctor if using saw palmetto.

The jury is still out on saw palmetto for prostate

By Dr. Keith Roach

Dear Dr. Roach • I read in your column recently that you suggested saw palmetto to a male reader who was having difficulty with his blood pressure dropping due to medications prescribed for his enlarged prostate. That was causing frequent trips to the bathroom and a weak urine stream. I have read a number of articles, both pro and con, about the effectiveness of saw palmetto for enlarged prostate. Further, there is the question of the consistency of over-the-counter supplements and whether they actually contain the ingredients in the amounts listed. Could you please offer some insight as to the effectiveness of saw palmetto for enlarged prostate, either from experience with patients or from actual research? Also, is there any good way to determine which brands of supplements are more likely to contain the ingredients as labeled? — A.R.

Answer • I believe I noted that the studies were conflicting; some studies show a benefit over placebo, but others — including a National Institutes of Health-funded study (not drug company-funded) and one from a respected group (the Cochrane collaborative), which was an evaluation of multiple studies — showed no benefit over placebo.

As you note, there is a high degree of variability of the active ingredients in saw palmetto from one brand to another. I am very cautious about recommending a particular brand. A 2004 study from UCLA showed tremendous variation between brands (which were not disclosed). A 2011 study in JAMA used a German product, but the study showed no benefit over placebo. A 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine used a proprietary blend, which also showed no benefit over placebo. Despite my best efforts, I cannot recommend any particular brand that is available in North America.

Dear Dr. Roach • My blood pressure is controlled with meds. My husband has serious psoriasis. Is a hot tub safe for us? — M.F.

Answer • The use of a hot tub by someone with well-controlled hypertension is generally considered safe. A hot tub (or sauna) causes blood vessels in the skin to dilate (enlarge), which can cause a small drop in blood pressure. If the blood pressure is excessively controlled, this can cause some lightheadedness. However, a brief time (10 minutes) in a hot tub caused no problem in a group of hypertensive people who were well-treated.

For psoriasis, the use of a hot tub helps some people and makes other people have more flare-ups. It can be excessively drying to the skin, so moisturizing afterward is a good idea.


What you need to know before using saw palmetto as a treatment

By Dr. David Samadi

Saw palmetto has been used to treat urinary tract issues, increase libido, and bump up the sperm count in men since the early 1900s, and was a staple in the medicine pouch of Native Americans long before that.

It is, however, not quite the urinary and sexual panacea folklore and health food stores make it out to be.

When the music finally stopped, saw palmetto's place in the medicine cabinet was as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

Today, more than 2 million American men use saw palmetto for enlarged prostate, and the FDA recommends it as an alternative treatment.

How does it work? Nobody knows. We do know that it contains certain phyto-chemicals that may be effective for BPH. Researchers think that saw palmetto may affect the level of testosterone in the body, and perhaps reduce the amount of an enzyme that promotes the growth of prostate cells.

An anti-inflammatory effect on the prostate has also been attributed to the herb, but there is no obvious benefit over standardly prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs.

Do not self-medicate yourself for BPH with saw palmetto. The danger is that you may have prostate cancer (and not know it), which is best treated as soon as possible. Have your doctor rule that out first.

Saw palmetto can be purchased as dried berries, powdered capsules, tablets, liquid tinctures, and liposterolic extracts. The product label should indicate that contents are standardized and contain 85% to 95% fatty acids and sterols.

It is also available as an herbal tea, which is of little value, as the active ingredients of saw palmetto are fatty acids which are not soluble in water.

Do not expect results overnight. It can take up to two months before you see any benefits from saw palmetto.

The herb should be used cautiously by people with high blood pressure, stomach disorders and liver disorders. Caution is also advised for those with hormone-sensitive conditions or in those taking hormonal agents, due to possible hormonal effects of saw palmetto.

Saw palmetto is a berry-bearing palm-like plant that flourishes in the southeastern United States. It derives its name from the jagged and saw-like nature of its leaves. The plant has white flowers, which produce yellow berries. It is the berries which are used medicinally.


Can Saw Palmetto Halt Hair Loss?

By Cathy Wong, ND

Question: Can Saw Palmetto Halt Hair Loss?

Q. What can you tell me about saw palmetto? I read that it's a good herbal remedy for hair loss and baldness.

-Jason

Answer:

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens or Sabal serrulata) is a dwarf palm plant native to North America. It primarily grows along the Atlantic coast in Georgia and Florida. The active ingredients are believed to be found in the plant's brown-black berries.

Saw palmetto was a popular folk remedy used by Native Americans to treat urinary conditions in men and breast disorders in women.

In alternative medicine, it is sometimes used for benign prostate gland enlargement (called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).

Saw palmetto is also popular as an herbal remedy for a type of hair loss and baldness called androgenic alopecia, or male- and female-pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is typically the greatest at the top of the head or around the temples.

Although we still don't know exactly how it works, it's believed that it may block an enzyme (5-alpha-reductase) from allowing the hormone testosterone from being converted to another hormone, dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is considered a key contributing factor to the onset and progression of androgenic alopecia and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Saw palmetto has also been found to affect the levels of sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen in other ways.

Much of saw palmetto's popularity as a remedy for hair loss and baldness, however, is based on how it's believed to work rather than on evidence that it actually does. Although there have been some lab studies showing that saw palmetto can inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, there are no well-designed clinical studies showing that saw palmetto can cause hair growth, or stop hair loss or baldness from progressing.

One of the only published trials on saw palmetto for baldness is a small study involving 10 men with mild to moderate male pattern baldness. Although promising, the study was too small to provide meaningful evidence.

Like most other herbal supplements, saw palmetto may have potential side effects. The most common side effects associated with saw palmetto use are mild stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and bad breath. Some men taking saw palmetto have reported erectile dysfunction, breast tenderness or enlargement, and changes in sexual desire.

There have been rare case reports describing liver inflammation, pancreatitis, jaundice, headache, dizziness, insomnia, depression, breathing difficulties, muscle pain, high blood pressure, chest pain, abnormal heart rhythm, blood clots, and heart disease, but it's not clear that these side effects were directly caused by saw palmetto.

Although it hasn't been well-demonstrated in humans, saw palmetto may influence levels of sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.

Until we know more, people with hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast cancer, should use caution. Also, saw palmetto could theoretically interfere with oral contraceptives and hormone therapy.

At least two case reports have linked saw palmetto with severe bleeding. People with bleeding disorders or who are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications--such as warfarin (Coumadin®), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix®)--should avoid taking saw palmetto unless under medical supervision. It should also be avoided at least two weeks before and after surgery.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here. If you're considering using saw palmetto for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.



Benefits of Saw Palmetto for Women

By Stephanie Draus, ND (Demand Media)

If you've heard of the herb saw palmetto, you probably associate it more with men's health than women's health. Saw palmetto is the most used natural remedy for the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy, or enlarged prostate, which is a common condition in aging men. The herb helps regulate certain hormones in the body, and this effect is useful in women as well as men.

Effects on Testosterone

Testosterone is not just a male hormone -- women also produce it. Testosterone imbalance in women is associated with adult acne, menopausal symptoms, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. Testosterone metabolizes into dihydrotestosterone, which is associated with prostate enlargement and prostate cancers. Saw palmetto is thought to inhibit this breakdown. Saw palmetto may also have an estrogen-like effect, which can balance the effects of testosterone in women.

Acne

Adult-onset acne in women may be associated with a testosterone imbalance. Because of its effects on testosterone metabolism, saw palmetto is sometimes recommended to treat these outbreaks. According to the Natural Standard Database, evidence is lacking for this use, and therefore more research is needed. It's worth noting that saw palmetto berries also contain essential fatty acids, which contribute to the health of the skin.

Menopausal Symptoms

At menopause, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone drop, while testosterone levels remain steady. According to Susun Weed, a traditional herbalist, saw palmetto helps to prevent atrophy of vaginal and uterine tissue, an uncomfortable side effect of menopause. This is possibly due to the herb's effects on testosterone and other hormones. Again, solid evidence supporting this is lacking.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

PCOS is a condition marked by excess facial and body hair, trouble losing weight, irregular menstruation and infertility. The cause of PCOS is not well understood, but testosterone imbalance is associated with some of the symptoms. Saw palmetto may help reduce these symptoms and preserve fertility, most likely because of its hormonal effect.


Using Saw Palmetto to Treat an Enlarged Prostate

(How Stuff Works)

Although it is native to the United States, saw palmetto, like other alternative medicines, first became popular in Europe, where herbal remedies are big sellers.

In many European countries, a number of prescription and over-the-counter remedies for prostate enlargement contain saw palmetto extract. In Germany, for example, saw palmetto is an approved drug often recommended by physicians. This is because using saw palmetto to treat an enlarged prostate can be quite effective. Now saw palmetto is also very popular in the United States.

Saw Palmetto Studies

In Belgium, researchers gave saw palmetto extract to 505 men with benign prostate disease. At the end of the trial, the researchers concluded that saw palmetto had aided urinary flow, reduced residual urinary volume and prostate size, and otherwise improved the patients' quality of life. Saw palmetto, moreover, began to produce results within 45 days. Finasteride, on the other hand, can take six months to a year to work, if indeed it works at all.

After 90 days of saw palmetto treatment, 88 percent of patients and their physicians said they considered the therapy to be effective. Said the Belgian researchers: "The extract of saw palmetto appears to be an effective and well-tolerated pharmacologic agent in treating urinary problems accompanying benign prostate hypertrophy."

In a two-year study conducted in Germany, 88 men with mild BPH were randomly assigned saw palmetto or placebo (dummy pill). By the end of the study, the men taking saw palmetto were much less likely to have had their symptoms worsen compared to those men who were on the placebo.

But not all the studies of saw palmetto have been as encouraging. In one double-blind trial, 110 patients took either a placebo or an extract of saw palmetto for one month. The patients who received saw palmetto showed statistical improvement, but not enough for the researchers to conclude that saw palmetto was an effective treatment.

A very large trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 found no effect for saw palmetto compared to placebo. However, the men in this study had significantly more severe BPH symptoms than in previous studies. This research seemed to confirm that saw palmetto is best for mild-to-moderate BPH symptoms and is unlikely to help in more serious cases.

How Saw Palmetto Works

According to the late pharmacognosist Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., former professor emeritus at Purdue University School of Pharmacy in Indiana, an extract from saw palmetto berries appears to counteract the effects of certain male sex hormones, called androgens, that may cause prostate enlargement. He said it also has an anti-inflammatory activity.

Just how saw palmetto achieves results remains unclear. Studies in mice have shown that an extract of saw palmetto berries inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. That's the chemical, you'll recall, that spurs production of DHT, which causes prostate tissue growth.

Saw palmetto extract also appears to inhibit DHT from binding to cell receptor sites. This increases the breakdown of DHT and encourages its excretion. Other studies show saw palmetto can relax the prostate tissue by blocking the same receptors as alpha-blockers like tamsulosin.

Other research suggests saw palmetto appears to reduce the effects of excess estrogen. In a subsequent human trial, 80 percent of men with benign prostate enlargement reported significant improvement in symptoms after using saw palmetto extract.

How Does Saw Palmetto Compare?

Medications used to treat BPH typically cost twice as much (or more) as saw palmetto. Prices vary from region to region, but as far back as 1993, the U.S. Office of Alternative Medicine concluded that $2.78 billion per year could be saved by using saw palmetto more widely. The savings would certainly be much more today.

Nonetheless, it's unlikely that you'll see saw palmetto as a federally approved drug any time soon. In 1990, a company called Enzymatic Therapy petitioned the FDA to have saw palmetto approved for treatment of BPH. The federal agency rejected the application. FDA officials said they recognized results of clinical trials that showed "statistically significant" improvements in men who took the herbal extract. But the FDA concluded that such data was not "clinically significant." What Should You Take?

So where does that leave you if you're suffering from symptoms of prostate enlargement? The first thing to do is to see your doctor to rule out other conditions, including prostate cancer. Then the two of you can determine whether it would be in your best interest to try prescription medications, saw palmetto extract, or a combination to treat your enlarged prostate.

When purchasing saw palmetto, be sure to buy an extract standardized to contain 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols. Berries alone, although cheaper than the extract, would have to be taken in much greater amounts to achieve beneficial effects. Only standardized fatty acid sterols have been studied for their ability to shrink prostatic tissue.

As discussed in this article, there are many steps you can take on your own to ease the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. But remember to see your doctor regularly -- don't let an enlarged prostate go untreated.


The Benefits of Saw Palmetto

By Cathy Wong, ND

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens or Sabal serrulata) is a plant used in herbal medicine. It's often used to fight hair loss. Saw palmetto is also frequently taken for the treatment of conditions affecting the prostate.

Saw palmetto supplements typically contain extracts of the fruit of the plant.

Uses for Saw Palmetto

In alternative medicine, saw palmetto is said to aid in the treatment of the following health problems: asthma, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), chronic pelvic pain syndrome, colds, coughs, migraine, prostate cancer, and sore throat.

Saw palmetto is also thought to increase libido, as well as alleviate stress.

1) BPH

One of the most common uses of saw palmetto is the treatment of BPH, a condition marked by enlargement of the prostate. BPH is not considered a serious health issue, but it often causes symptoms such as increased need to urinate. It also may lead to urinary tract infections and other complications.

Several small studies have shown that saw palmetto may help relieve BPH symptoms. However, a report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2012 found that saw palmetto may be ineffective in treating urinary symptoms associated with BPH.

For this report, researchers analyzed 32 previously published clinical trials with a total of 5,666 participants. Their analysis determined that use of saw palmetto did not improve urinary flow measures or prostate size in men with BPH-related lower urinary tract symptoms.

2) Hair Loss

Saw palmetto is said to inhibit the activity of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme involved in converting testosterone to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone appears to play a key role in the development of androgenic alopecia, a condition more commonly known as male-pattern hair loss.

While research on saw palmetto's effects against hair loss is limited, there's some evidence that it may help treat androgenetic alopecia.

In a pilot study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2002, for instance, a group of males with mild to moderate androgenetic alopecia showed a "highly positive response" to treatment with saw palmetto and beta-sitosterol. The study's authors partly attributed this finding to saw palmetto's possibly blocking the activity of 5-alpha reductase.

More Benefits of Saw Palmetto

Emerging research suggests that saw palmetto shows promise in the treatment of certain other health conditions.

For example, a small study published in the Swiss journal Urologia Internationalis in 2010 found that saw palmetto may be of some benefit to patients with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

In the study, 102 patients with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome were split into two groups: the first group received a combination of saw palmetto, selenium, and lycopene; the second group received saw palmetto alone.

After eight weeks of treatment, both groups showed a significant improvement in symptoms.

There's also some evidence that taking saw palmetto prior to undergoing prostate surgery may reduce the time spent in surgery (as well as blood loss, the development of problems during surgery, and total time spent in the hospital).

Side Effects & Safety Concerns

Saw palmetto may cause a number of side effects, including:

• bad breath
• constipation
• diarrhea
• dizziness
• fatigue
• headache
• nausea
• stomach
• vomiting

Additionally, some men taking saw palmetto have reported erectile dysfunction, breast tenderness or enlargement, and changes in sexual desire.

Although it hasn't been well-demonstrated in humans, saw palmetto may influence levels of sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Therefore, people with hormone-sensitive conditions (including breast cancer and prostate cancer) should consult their physician prior to using saw palmetto.

There have been rare case reports describing liver inflammation, pancreatitis, jaundice, headache, dizziness, insomnia, depression, breathing difficulties, muscle pain, high blood pressure, chest pain, abnormal heart rhythm, blood clots, and heart disease, but they haven't been clearly caused by saw palmetto.

At least two case reports have linked saw palmetto with severe bleeding. People with bleeding disorders or who are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications such as warfarin (Coumadin®), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix®) should avoid taking saw palmetto unless under medical supervision. It should also be avoided at least two weeks before or after surgery. Where to Find It

You can purchase dietary supplements containing saw palmetto in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in herbal products. Saw palmetto is also widely available for purchase online.


Saw Palmetto Benefits Prostate Health

(UHN Staff)

In men, the prostate gland often gets bigger with age, and this enlargement usually beings around age 40 to 45. A condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the medical term for a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, is very common and occurs in more than half of all men. While medical professionals believe that BPH does not increase your risk for prostate cancer, the symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are similar and prostate cancer can go undiagnosed. Symptoms of BPH include the frequent urge to urinate, difficulty starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine, dribbling after urination, and the inability to fully empty the bladder.

Conventional treatments

There are many drug treatments available to treat prostate enlargement. They usually work by relaxing the muscles located near the prostate or by blocking the enzyme 5-α-reductase, which converts testosterone to DHT, a compound that stimulates growth of the prostate. These drugs can have many unpleasant side effects like dizziness, low blood pressure, syncope, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, and impotence. In some cases, surgery is used to decrease the size of the prostate if it becomes too big. Fortunately, natural treatments like saw palmetto can be very effective at treating BPH.

Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto is extracted from the fruit of the plant Serenoa repens. Saw palmetto benefits are related to its content of many health-promoting nutrients including fatty acids, sterols, flavanoids, and more. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and it can also act as a relaxant to the muscles of the bladder and those surrounding the prostate, helping to relieve pressure and symptoms. Saw palmetto also may block hormone receptors, and can prevent fluid build up as well.

In laboratory studies, saw palmetto has been shown to have anti-proliferative actions. This causes a reduction in prostate size due to an inhibition of cell growth. This characteristic also prevents the spread of human prostate cancer cell lines.

Saw palmetto also can block the enzyme 5-α-reductase. As mentioned earlier, this enzyme converts testosterone to DHT, which is a more potent form of the hormone that promotes growth of the prostate. The sterols and fatty acids in saw palmetto inhibit the activity of this enzyme, much like many drug treatments aim to do.

Saw palmetto benefits BPH symptoms

There are numerous controlled, clinical studies that provide strong evidence for the effectiveness of saw palmetto for prostate health, especially for reducing prostate size and symptoms of BPH. In one study, patients with BPH were given 320 mg of saw palmetto or placebo each day for 12 months. Symptoms of BPH significantly improved for all patients receiving the saw palmetto treatment.

Using saw palmetto for prostate health

The recommended dose for saw palmetto to treat BPH and other prostate problems is 320 mg/day. Research suggests that taking saw palmetto along with added beta-sitosterol might be even more effective than saw palmetto alone. Beta-sitosterol is a type of compound called a phytosterol, and it is found in saw palmetto. However, some studies show that supplementation with beta-sitosterol itself, and as an addition to saw palmetto extract, can be very effective. Find a combination supplement with these two ingredients for best results. It may take time for effects to be seen and for symptoms to reduce. Work with your doctor to monitor your prostate health and discuss your treatment options


How to Care for a Saw Palmetto (Serenoa Repens) Plant

By Jessica Westover (Demand Media)

The saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a fitting choice for mixed shrub beds, foundation plantings or mass plantings in the landscape. A type of fan palm, the saw palmetto produces star-shaped bluish-green leaves with a mature width of 2 feet. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, saw palmetto thrives in full sunlight and will endure partial shade. It grows well in any soil type with either an acidic or alkaline pH, as long as the media is fast draining.

1 Pull weeds and remove rocks and debris located around the saw palmetto. Use a rake to spread a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch over the ground surrounding the plant. Keep the mulch 4 to 6 inches from the plant's base to prevent its stems from rotting.

2 Water the saw palmetto when rainfall is absent or less than 1 inch for 10 to 14 days. Apply water from a garden hose directly to the ground around the plant, watering the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. Water the palm during the morning hours to allow wet foliage to dry before nightfall; this helps prevent fungal diseases from forming. Never allow the soil to become soggy.

3 Attach a misting nozzle to the end of a garden hose. Spray the foliage with mist to increase the humidity level around the saw palmetto during periods with little to no rainfall. Mist the leaves during the morning to early afternoon hours to give them time to dry before dark.

4 Prune off dry, yellow to brown dead leaves as they appear. Cut horizontally through the base of the leaf's stem, 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the point where it joins the trunk or emerges from the soil. Remove yellowing leaves that contain less than 50 percent green tissue.

5 Check the leaves periodically for the presence of whiteflies, tiny webbing spun by spider mites or green, soft-bodied aphids. Wash small populations of these insects off the saw palmetto leaves with a steady stream of water. Spray heavily infested foliage with insecticidal soap to eradicate these pests.


The Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto

By Steven Foster

Good news for men with prostate ­problems

Dosage: Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens)

What It Does: Relieves symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), especially the urge to urinate during the night. Preliminary research shows that it may also help women suffering from ovarian and uterine irritations.

How We Know: For BPH—clinical trials. For ovarian and uterine irritations— preliminary research.

Dosage: For BPH, up to three 585-mg capsules daily or 20 to 30 drops of tincture four times daily; products standardized to 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols are taken one or two times a day for a total daily dose of 320 mg. Dosages for treatment of ovarian and uterine problems haven’t been established.

Cautions: Reports of discomfort linked to taking saw palmetto are rare. One source suggests that because of saw palmetto’s possible impact on estrogen, it may affect hormonal treatments, including birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Additionally, the safety of saw palmetto for women who are pregnant or nursing hasn’t been established, so using it during these times should be avoided.

As I write this, the saw palmetto harvest is under way in Florida, where workers will handpick about seven million pounds of berries this season, according to University of Florida field observers. Most of the crop will be sent to­ ­Europe, but a large portion will return to the United States in the form of standardized extracts.

Saw palmetto is primarily used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland that affects about half of all men older than fifty. The herb has become a popular BPH treatment in the United States, where it’s the fifth top-selling phytomedicine on the market, according to a 1998 survey by Whole Foods magazine.

Still, standard U.S. medical treatment of BPH generally consists of prescribing synthetic drugs or surgery to remove some prostate tissue. The drugs can help offset frequent urination and pain, but they can also have side effects, including hypertension, dizziness, and decreased sex drive.

In Europe, medical doctors for years have prescribed saw palmetto and other herbs to treat mild to moderate cases of BPH. Today in Germany alone, the sale of BPH products totals about $400 million, and 90 percent of those sales are herbal preparations, including saw palmetto, pumpkin seed, and stinging nettle root. Each of these herbs is believed to regulate hormone metabolism, mediate the immune system, fight congestion, and affect bladder muscles.

Given this history, then, it’s no surprise that most scientific research on saw palmetto as a BPH treatment comes from Europe. Last August, just as the saw palmetto harvest was in full swing in Florida, European and U.S. doctors, pharmacists, and researchers gathered in that state to bring each other up to date on the latest research.

A Little Background, Some Recent Research

BPH is a noncancerous growth of the prostate gland. The prostate sits under the bladder and, if the prostate grows in mature men, it pinches the urethra, or urine tube, and problems begin, including painful urination and frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom. Researchers estimate that BPH affects about ten million men in the United States—some in their forties, half of all men older than fifty, and four out of every five men older than eighty.

Research conducted in Europe since the beginning of the 1980s shows that saw palmetto is an effective treatment for BPH. A 1984 clinical trial in France, for example, showed that saw palmetto reduced by nearly 50 percent the number of times BPH sufferers had to get up to go to the bathroom during the night and ­significantly reduced painful or difficult urination. More recently, researchers compared a saw palmetto extract with finasteride, the conventional BPH drug. The study involved 1,098 men diagnosed with BPH, and researchers concluded that both treatments relieved BPH symptoms in about two-thirds of the men. But while finasteride significantly reduced prostate size, it also decreased sex drive and potency. Saw palmetto didn’t reduce prostate size, but the men taking the herb complained less about decreased sex drive and impotence.

At the Florida conference, German researchers said that a three-year study involving 315 men with BPH showed that nearly three-fourths of the men using saw palmetto found relief from frequent nighttime urination, and more than half found relief from frequent urination during the day. Further, more than a fourth of them experienced a reduction in prostate size, and nearly all of those using saw palmetto—98 percent—experienced no side ­effects.

To date, researchers believe that saw palmetto’s fatty acids and sterols contain the active ingredients that relieve BPH symptoms. These active compounds, some researchers say, prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT, the agent thought to be responsible for prostate enlargement.

Don’t Bypass Cancer Screening

While much of the news about saw palmetto is good, some medical practitioners say they are concerned that its use could be risky: The symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are similar, so using saw palmetto—which is sold over the counter—may simultaneously relieve symptoms and mask signs of a more serious problem.

However, saw palmetto doesn’t impact a man’s PSA count, a measurement doctors use to test for prostate cancer. Therefore, say medical practitioners, stay in touch with your health-care provider, and don’t bypass screening for prostate cancer. 8

Not Just For Men Anymore?

Last August, when doctors, pharmacists, and other professionals gathered at the International Saw Palmetto Symposium in Florida, much of their discussion focused on saw palmetto as a treatment for men. However, they also turned their attention to preliminary research showing that it may help women who suffer from painful menstruation and other uterine discomforts.

Dr. D. Paul Barney, a medical doctor from Utah, says he has prescribed saw palmetto preparations for women who are seeking relief from premenstrual ­syndrome. Common PMS symptoms ­include menstrual cramps, bloating, heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area, and headaches.

“Sixty to seventy percent of my patients who use it say that it worked very well for them . . . that it’s better for PMS symptoms than the standard anti-inflammatory medicine,” Barney says.

Barney bases his belief that saw palmetto can offer effective medicine for women as well as men on multiple layers of research, including historic use. Written records show that herbalists of the 1800s credited the herb with having a tonic effect, lauding its powers to stimulate the bladder, prostate, and testicles—as well as the ovaries and uterus.

But historic use provides only a clue. Barney also studies the scientific research, most of which focuses on saw palmetto as a treatment for prostate problems. Yet this evidence encourages him to believe that the herb may work for conditions beyond those linked to the male reproductive system.

“From the existing research [on men], we know a lot about its safety in terms of its impact on overall body systems,” Barney says. “It doesn’t affect the liver or kidneys, important considerations, but it does alter the function of hormones—testosterone, progesterone [also present in women]—and has a buffering effect.”

Additionally, Barney points to a recent Argentine study indicating that a preparation made from saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and pygeum (Pygeum africanum), derived from an African evergreen tree, provides relief from pelvic congestive syndrome, a condition of the female reproductive system. Sixty women between the ages of eighteen and forty-five took part in the study; each suffered from moderate to severe pelvic pain, with symptoms such as painful menstruation, urinary disorders, bloating, and/or painful intercourse.

The researchers divided the women into three groups. Twenty women were treated with the saw palmetto/pygeum combination, twenty with anti-inflammatory drugs, and twenty with a placebo. The researchers followed the participants’ progress through two menstrual cycles, then reported that nineteen of the women who took the herbal treatment experienced relief from or an end to their symptoms, which included nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Ten of those taking anti-inflammatory drugs experienced relief, and four of those on the placebo felt better, according to the study.

The researchers—the chief of the gynecology division at the Dr. J. M. Ramos Mejia General Hospital in Buenos Aires and another medical doctor working in that division—attributed the results of the study to saw palmetto’s ability to ­increase blood mobility, which relieves bloating and pain, and the ability of pygeum to block substances that stimulate smooth-muscle contractions.

Barney acknowledges that large-scale clinical trials may be necessary for many in the medical profession to recognize saw palmetto as an effective treatment for conditions related to the female reproductive system. But he says that his first concern is the safest route to good health, and often herbal medications can provide that.

“I have the ability to follow people along closely [in my practice] and see how [patients] respond,” he adds. “I may not require as many studies as some, but I am willing to read all I can about something and consider whether it is better than the alternatives.”

The safety of saw palmetto for women has yet to be established, how­ever, especially for pregnant or nursing mothers. To be on the safe side, women of childbearing age should use it only under the supervision of a medical doctor. In Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals (The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996), the authors suggest that because of saw palmetto’s reported estrogenic activity, it may affect hormonal treatments, including birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.


Homeopathy for alopecia and hairloss — Everything you need to know

By Bhakti Paun Sharma

Dr. Batra answers common queries on homeopathy for alopecia.

Hair loss or baldness is medically termed as alopecia. Hair fall cannot always be termed alopecia, and various factors are responsible for this condition. Some of them can be medical conditions or treatments like chemotherapy, and there are other reasons where a person can start losing hair naturally. Alternative treatment is one of the effective resorts to treating alopecia. To know whether homeopathy can help treat alopecia, we consulted Dr. Batra with a few common queries. Here are his responses:

Can alopecia be treated with homeopathy?

Yes, certainly. This is primarily because homeopathy is, by far, the safest and most humane form of medical sciences. It aims to treat the whole person, rather than just the physical, or apparent symptoms like hair loss.

Proven results: Homeopathic remedies such as Thuja Occidentalis or Sabal Serrulata have been used for treating hair loss in homeopathy for over a 100 years. International clinical studies have proven that the two homeopathic remedies are natural dihydrotestosterone (DHT)-inhibitors, i.e., they can control hair loss caused by DHT, the primary trigger — without side-effects.

Mind-body medicine: Homeopathy treats not only the physical complaints, but also targets the mind and gently restores mind-body equilibrium — thus, it treats patients as a ‘whole’. This makes it an excellent solution for hair problems related to the mind, such as stress-related patchy hair loss (alopecia areata), hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania), or stress-induced massive hair shedding.

Verified by studies: A study conducted in Scotland revealed that 90 percent of patients with patchy hair loss opted for homeopathy as the first choice of treatment. Homeopathy actually helps to slow down the progression of the bald patches and fill them up with new hair. A complete recovery is possible in most cases.

A study conducted in-house at Dr.Batra’s on 1.9 lakh patients taking treatment for hair loss has shown ‘improvement’ in 94.1 percent of patients; ‘no change’ in 4.3 percent of patients; and, ‘not better in spite of treatment’ in 1.6 percent of patients. These figures are in conformity with authenticated survey results, published by reputed external sources such as A C Nielsen and American Quality Assessors — a validation no other healthcare group in the area of hair loss treatment can show, or match. You should also know about acupressure points for healthy hair growth.

2. Different homeopathic remedies for alopecia

Homeopathy prescribes a different remedy for a given illness, depending on a multitude of factors, such as personality of the individual, their state of mind and lifestyle. In other words, the illness may be the same by name, but the presentation of the illness in no two individuals is the same — so, they are given two different homeopathic remedies that suit their distinctive personality, or individuality.

3. Who can or should not use homeopathy for baldness?

Anyone can; there are no contra-indications. Did you know children can have hair loss problems too?

4. How soon can you expect to see the results?

There is every chance — in fact, a high percent chance — that your hair will re-grow, more so with timely homeopathic treatment. However, it may also fall out again. No one can predict outcomes of hair re-growth in patchy hair loss, because the course of the disorder varies from person to person. Some people develop just a few bald patches — their hair re-grows and the condition seldom recurs. A few may lose all the hair on the scalp, face and body. Yet, even in people who lose all their hair, the possibility for full re-growth remains a bright prospect. In some people, the initial hair re-growth, with medical treatment, is white — along with a slow return of their original hair colour. In others, however, the re-grown hair bears the same colour and consistency as the original hair.

What’s more, most people expect miracles. It is imperative to ‘weigh’ out treatment outcomes — in other words, understand beforehand what topical (that you apply on your head) and internal homeopathic medications can do for you. Remember, the hair you’ve lost years ago isn’t likely to start growing quickly. Instead, consider the idea of stopping excessive hair loss and, perhaps, experiencing some mild re-growth and you’d be happy with the results. Well, if your expectations are sky-high, disappointment is inevitable. Having patience will help because results take many months — not just days, or weeks. Remember, hair grows slowly, so it will take a good deal of time before you notice any visible change.

5. Side-effects of homeopathy for alopecia?

None. No side-effects have been recorded or reported so far. Homeopathic medicines are free from side-effects. Not only do homeopathic remedies reduce hair loss, but they also protect the body from harmful effects (such as decreased libido, ejaculation problems) that are common with conventional drugs used for hair loss.


The prostate, homeopathy and Sabal serrulata

By Brian Kaplan

The first thing that should be said about the prostate is that it is one of the most mispronounced words in the entire English language. So many people pronounce it as “prostrate” which of course means “stretched out on the ground” – nothing to do with the prostate gland. Most men know very little about the prostate and a survey once showed that 89 per cent of men didn’t know where the prostate was located. Embarrassingly studies have also shown that women know more about the prostate and prostatic problems than men!

So what exactly is the prostate? It is an important walnut-shaped organ about the size of a golf ball, which surrounds the beginning of the urethra at the base of the bladder. And as everyone knows, only men have prostates. Its main function is to produce about 25 per cent of the semen in every ejaculation. This prostatic secretion protects and nourishes the sperm (produced by the testicles) and helps to prevent the urethra from becoming infected. It thus plays an important part in the male reproductive system. The prostate can be examined by the physician putting an index finger in the rectum – a slightly uncomfortable, but not painful medical procedure. Examination can reveal if the prostate is enlarged or hard in places. The prostate gland can be affected by three major types of problems.

Infection (prostatitis)

Acute prostatitis is caused by a bacterial (and occasionally viral) infection usually as the result of a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhoea or sometimes as a complication of a urinary tract infection. Treatment is to identify the offending bacteria and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic. I see no place for homeopathy in the treatment of acute prostatitis.

Chronic prostatitis is more mysterious and troublesome to treat. Initial treatment in orthodox medicine is with antibiotics but even surgery is resorted to on occasion. I believe that homeopathy is well worth trying before resorting to the rather drastic option of surgery. Such treatment should only be attempted by an experienced homeopathic doctor.

Cancer

Prostatic cancer is the most common cancer affecting men. In the UK, 27,000 new cases are diagnosed and over 10,000 men die of this dangerous cancer. It is much more common in elderly men with 80 per cent of cases occuring in men over 65 but it is not uncommon in men as young as 40. If left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body such as the spine and cause death. Rectal examination may or may not give a clue to the diagnosis. Fortunately there is a simple blood test that can screen for the level of prostate specific antigen (PSA). Levels above 10 do not prove cancer but indicate further investigations to be necessary. (Initially a repeated blood test and then a biopsy). There are those who believe all men over 40 should be screened for prostatic cancer but economic factors make this impossible for most of the world’s population. Even in prosperous countries, this severe (but often highly treatable) cancer goes undiagnosed because of ignorance. In his column in The Times 17 May 2004, Dr Thomas Stuttaford points out that 90 per cent of British men do not know the function of the PSA test (fortunately, 70 per cent of British women do) and he informs readers that a new help-line dedicated to prostate problems has just been set up, aptly called Ignorance isn’t bliss (020 8582 0248).

The management of prostatic cancer should always be in the hands of a qualified urologist. It may comprise surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and drugs. Homeopathy can be used in conjunction with these treatments but never instead of them. This is a serious and potentially lethal disease and needs to be treated with the utmost respect.

Enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy or BPH) This is the most common problem affecting the prostate as it will eventually affect every man if he lives long enough! The enlarging prostate starts to press on the urethra and slowly obstruct it. BPH can present with any of the following symptoms all of which gradually increase if nothing is done about it:

•a feeling that the bladder never completely empties;
•a desire to pass urine much more frequently;
•waking at night to pass urine (nocturia);
•difficulty in getting started when urinating (hesitancy);
•pain when passing urine or blood in the urine;
•poor flow of urine.

Orthodox treatment of this condition is with drugs in milder cases and surgery in more severe cases. The main drug used is finasteride, which can sometimes slow down the enlargement of the prostate. There are two types of surgical operations for BPH: removal of the prostate or boring a hole in it to ease the flow of urine, an operation known as a transurethral resection or TUR. The drugs can of course have side effects and the surgery almost always has a downside. Removal of the prostate prevents normal ejaculation and can result in impotence, especially in older men. TUR usually does not affect potency but often results in retrograde ejaculation (into the bladder instead of out through the penis), which obviously has an effect on a man’s sex life. However I believe that homeopathy has a big role to play in the treatment of prostatic enlargement.

The homeopathic medicine Sabal serrulata is an excellent and specific treatment for BPH. When I first studied homeopathy a quarter of a century ago, Sabal had been used for many years for this condition. It was also used by herbalists who knew it by the name saw palmetto or serenoa repens. Native Americans have been using the berries of this plant for urinary tract problems for many centuries. It also once had a good reputation as an aphrodisiac but alas no more! The early American homeopaths of whom many were “eclectic” physicians had knowledge of the world of herbs and quickly included Sabal serrulata into the homeopathic materia medica, where clinical experience made it the most well-known specific homeopathic remedy for BPH. At the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital I was taught to use it in mother tincture rather than in potency. As results have been rather good with this form of the remedy, I have never changed although I have heard of homeopaths getting good results with various potencies.

After making a diagnosis of BPH, I take a full homeopathic history in the usual classical way. My aim is to find a remedy that suits his constitution and prescribe this remedy in a high potency as well as Sabal serrulata in mother tincture. So a typical case may receive Lycopodium 200c three doses in the first 24 hours followed by six drops of Sabal serrulata mother tincture three times a day. Such an approach is consistent with the French homeopathic methodology known as “drainage”. I am a classical homeopath and don’t use this approach routinely at all; in fact Sabal serrulata is one of the few homeopathic remedies I prescribe in this way.


Herbal Treatments for Prostate Problems

By Chris Woolston, M.S.

Men are notoriously leery of doctors, especially when it comes to "sensitive" topics like the prostate. So when over-the-counter herbal products claim to "promote prostate health," many men will listen. Over two million men in the United States use saw palmetto for prostate problems, an herb that, among other things, has the reputation of easing the symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH). Thousands of men have also sought out herbal remedies for prostate cancer.

Here's a look at the latest information on these herbal prostate remedies.

Saw palmetto

This herb, derived from the berry of the American dwarf palm tree, has been used to treat prostate problems since the 1800s. Today, saw palmetto is especially popular among men who experience the weak urine flow and frequent urination symptomatic of an enlarged prostate. According to a survey in Consumer Reports, more than half of all men who tried the remedy said it eased their symptoms "a lot" or "somewhat."

What does science have to say? Some research has found that saw palmetto really does seem to ease urinary symptoms. A study of 85 men published in the December 2001 issue of the journal Urology found that men who took capsules of saw palmetto for six months reported slightly fewer symptoms than men who took a placebo (a "dummy" pill). Other studies, however, have found that saw palmetto and placebos work about equally well.

According to an editorial that accompanied the Urology report, it's still possible that saw palmetto is, in fact, simply an extra-powerful placebo. Perhaps it works because men expect it to work. A study published in 2006 found that saw palmetto had no effect on enlarged prostates, adding more weight to the idea that the benefits of saw palmetto are all in the mind.

If you do decide to try saw palmetto, here are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, you should stick with the generally recommended dose of 320 milligrams each day. The herb is safe at this level, and there's no evidence that an extra-large dose will work any better. Also, be aware that herbal supplements tend to vary widely in their purity and potency. You can help protect yourself by choosing products marked with "NF," the seal of the United States Pharmacopeia and National Formulary. Finally, saw palmetto is no substitute for a doctor. If you have urinary problems, get a thorough checkup and talk to your doctor before trying saw palmetto or any other herbal product.

PC-SPES

The "PC" stands for prostate cancer, and "spes" is Latin for "hope." PC-SPES had been shown to shrink prostate tumors, but it was taken off the market in February 2002 after it was found to contain traces of the prescription drug warfarin (a blood thinner). Subsequent tests found additional traces of strong drugs in PC-SPES, including an artificial form of estrogen and a pain reliever called indomethacin that may act against tumor cells.

For a time, it looked as though the product might actually live up to its name. Several scientific studies found the combination of herbs -- including saw palmetto, panax pseudo-ginseng, and six assorted Chinese herbs -- to be an effective treatment for prostate cancer. But even before the product was recalled, there was cause for concern.

Like some already established prostate cancer treatments, PC-SPES cut off supplies of the male hormone testosterone, a major source of fuel for prostate cancer. According to a report in the August 2001 issue of Urology, the concoction can reduce testosterone dramatically. For patients with prostate cancer, this drastic measure has real benefits. As the level of testosterone plummets, the tumor stops growing (at least temporarily) and may even begin to shrink.

Of course, anything that reduces testosterone to that level is bound to cause side effects. Nipple tenderness and swelling in the breasts are very common. About one-third of patients had diarrhea, and another one-third had cramps in the legs or muscles. Blood clots in the legs or lungs were the most serious potential side effect, but they were also very rare.

In summary, the supposed herbal supplement PC-SPES carried all of the punch of a prescription drug -- because it actually contained drugs. The supplement ran afoul of authorities only after tests by the California Department of Health Services turned up traces of warfarin, a prescription blood thinner that can raise the risk of serious bleeding. BotanicLab Inc., the company that distributed PC-SPES, voluntarily recalled the product nationwide. The California Department of Health Services urged anyone using PC-SPES to stop taking the product immediately and seek medical advice.

Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavonoid that is found in capers, apples, onions and many vegetables and fruits. Lab studies have found that quercetin helps to block the growth of prostate cancer cells, and at least one small study showed significant improvement in symptoms of chronic prostatitis. More research is needed, however, before it can be recommended.


Saw palmetto: Natural hormones regulator

(Financial Express)

A chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs is called a hormone. Hormones are essential for every activity of life, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control. Many hormones, such as neurotransmitters, are active in more than one physical process.

Problems of hair are also related to hormonal imbalance. The general scientific term for hair loss is alopecia.

Subtypes of alopecia include:

Alopecia Areata: An autoimmune disease that causes the body to form antibodies against some hair follicles. Alopecia Areata causes sudden smooth, circular patches of hair loss. There are no known cures and in many cases the hair grows back on its own.

Alopecia Totalis: An autoimmune disease similar to Alopecia Areata but that results in the loss of all hair on the scalp. It may begin as Alopecia Areata and progress into Alopecia Totalis.

Alopecia Universalis: An autoimmune disease that results in the complete loss of all hair over the entire body, including eyelashes and eyebrows.

Telogen effluvium: Telogen effluvium is an abnormal loss of hair due to alteration of the normal hair cycle. Normally, most of the hairs are in the growth stage and only one hundred hairs per day fall from the scalp. When telogen effluvium occurs, a greater proportion of the hairs enter the resting phase of the cycle and hair shedding is greater than normal.

Androgenetic Alopecia: It is the most common cause of hair loss, presenting as loss of hair over the top (vertex) and the anterior mid-scalp area (receding hairline) in affected men. The term androgenetic alopecia denotes that both a genetic predisposition and the presence of androgens are necessary to cause expression. AGA is also referred to as male pattern hair loss and typically begins gradually in men in their 20s with incidence increasing 10 per cent per decade. This is the most common form of hair loss and can also affect women. Other terms for this condition include: MPB, male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness, hereditary Alopecia and Androgenic Alopecia.

Chronic inflammation of the hair follicle (HF) is considered a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of androgenetic alopecia (AGA). (R. M. Trüeb, Experimental Gerontology, vol. 37, no. 8-9, pp. 981–990, 2002)

Hirsutism

Hirsutism is the presence of excess hair in women. This phenomenon is usually an androgen-dependent process. 25 to 35 per cent of young women have terminal hair over the lower abdomen, around the nipples, or over the upper lip. Most women gradually develop more androgen-dependent body hair with age. Nevertheless, normal patterns of female hair growth are unacceptable to many women. At the other extreme, severe hirsutism may rarely be the earliest signs of masculinising diseases. More often, however, severe hirsutism reflects only increased androgen production in women with a non serious underlying disorder.

It’s often caused by genes, hormones, or medication. Sometimes, hirsutism runs in families. It’s also more common in people from the Middle East, South Asia, and the Mediterranean. Many times, the condition is linked to high levels of male hormones (called androgens). It’s normal for women’s bodies to make these, and low levels don’t cause excess hair growth. But when these amounts are too high, they can cause hirsutism and other things, like acne, a deep voice, and small breasts. High levels of male hormones and hirsutism are common in women who have Polycystic ovarian syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome etc.

Acne and Seborrhoea: There are other diseases associated with 5a reductase activity such as acne and inflammatory skin disorder (seborrhoea) and eczema.

The key for treating all of these diseases is the modulation of 5a reductase activity.

5 -Alpha Reductase inhibitors: Drugs in this class work by inhibiting the enzyme 5 alpha reductase, which limits the conversion of testosterone to DHT.

Finasteride: The first drug in this class to undergo extensive clinical trials in men. Finasteride has selective activity against 5 alpha reductase. As a result, serum and follicular DHT levels are significantly reduced.

Saw palmetto extract: Studies have shown that Saw palmetto is an effective anti-androgen. It acts in a similar way that Finasteride does. Firstly it lowers levels of DHT in the body by blocking 5 alpha-reductase. Secondly, Saw palmetto blocks receptors sites on cell membranes required for cells to absorb DHT. Studies have been performed on the use of Saw palmetto in the treatment of benign prostatic disease, which is similar to androgenetic alopecia in that it also depends on the production of dihydrotestosterone.

What is Saw palmetto?

Saw palmetto is an extract derived from the deep purple berries of the saw palmetto fan palm (Serenoa repens), a plant indigenous to the coastal regions of the southern United States and southern California. There is an estimated one million acres of wild saw palmetto palms in Florida, where the bulk of commercial saw palmetto is grown.

Pharmacology of Saw palmetto: Saw palmetto is widely used as a therapeutic remedy for urinary dysfunction due to enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in the US and more so in Europe.

Based on mechanisms of action, Saw palmetto extracts are also used for male pattern baldness (alopecia), excess hair in women (hirsutism), acne, inflammatory skin disorder (seborrhea) and eczema.

Mechanisms of action

Anti-androgenic and anti-inflammatory activities: Saw palmetto extracts inhibit 5a-reductase, which is an enzyme responsible for conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Inhibition of such conversion maintains prostate health.

There are two commonly associated male physiological events that have a similar etiology. Enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and male pattern baldness are both related to the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.

Studies with a liposterolic extract of Saw palmetto berries showed that it reduced the uptake by tissue specimens of both testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by more than 40 per cent suggesting anti-androgenic activity.

Further, the extract inhibited binding of DHT to its receptor and blocked the conversion of testosterone to DHT by inhibiting the activity of 5-alpha-reductase. The berries also inhibit cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase pathways, thereby preventing the biosynthesis of inflammation – producing prostaglandins and leukotrienes.

Hirsutism in women is also related to this enzyme.

Role of Saw palmetto

Recently, a number of clinical trials have confirmed the effectiveness of saw palmetto in treating BPH. Many of these trials have shown saw palmetto works better than the most commonly used prescription drug, Finasteride. Saw palmetto is effective in nearly 90 per cent of patients after six weeks of use, while finasteride is effective in less than 50 per cent of patients. In addition, finasteride may take up to six months to achieve its full effect. Since finasteride blocks the production of testosterone, it can cause impotence and breast enlargement. Other prescription drugs used to treat BPH are doxazosin, terazosin, and tamsulosin hydrochloride. Originally prescribed to treat hypertension, doxazosin and terazosin can drop blood pressure, causing light headedness and fainting. Presently, saw palmetto is being evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of BPH. If approved, it would become the first natural derived product to be licensed by the agency as a treatment for a specific condition.

Since the 1960s, extensive clinical studies of saw palmetto have been done in Europe. A 1998 review of 24 European trials involved nearly 3,000 men, some taking saw palmetto, others taking finasteride, and a third group taking a placebo. The men taking saw palmetto had a 28 per cent improvement in urinary tract symptoms, a 24 per cent improvement in peak urine flow, and 43 per cent improvement in overall urine flow. The results were nearly comparable to the group taking finasteride and superior to the men taking a placebo.

A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was also conducted to determine the effectiveness of a preparation, containing 50 mg ß-sitosterol and 200 mg saw palmetto extract (standardised to contain 85-95% liposterols) per capsule, two capsules daily, in treatment of AGA (85). Healthy male subjects with moderate to severe AGA were randomly assigned to either the treatment arm (n=10) or the placebo arm (n=9) for a treatment period of approximately 21 weeks. At study completion 60 per cent of the men in the treatment group reported improvement, compared to only 11 per cent in the placebo group. Significance was neither reported nor achieved.

Saw palmetto has been extensively studied and is seen to lessen hair loss and improve hair density in women with hair loss related to testosterone levels. For women with PCOS especially if they have elevated DHT, saw palmetto helps to block 5-alpha-reductase activity – thereby reducing the amount of testosterone converted to DHT. It does not change hair that is already altered by excess testosterone back to fine, soft light coloured hair; it prevents new hair growth, or dark coarse hair re-growth in women who have had laser therapy or electrolysis.

It is suggested for use over a six-week period, taking notes of any improvements over that time. In case of improvement, may be continued on for best results. Saw palmetto has been found safe for long-term use in most cases

Suggested dosage: 400mg a day

According to the Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines and Catalina Lifesciences, researchers have found that when testosterone undergoes the conversion process to DHT, the shifting in hormone levels can result in acne in both men and women. The cause of an increase in pimples is due to the overproduction of sebum within your oil glands. This overproduction clogs your pores, which results in inflammation and pimples.

Although initial research of saw palmetto for the treatment of acne is promising, Dr Richard Fried writes in the report ‘Saw palmetto as a Treatment for Acne’ that the effectiveness of saw palmetto for acne treatment varies from person to person.

Conclusion

Saw palmetto is better known for its ability to help treat BPH in men; however, the primary active constituents within saw palmetto also help reduce the severity of acne. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center the primary constituents of saw palmetto include plant sterols, fatty acids and flavonoids. Saw palmetto contains a high concentration of polysaccharides, which are used by the human body to enhance the immune system as well as work as an anti-inflammatory. One of the primary benefits of saw palmetto is its ability to hinder the transformation of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which is also known as DHT.

Saw palmetto has been proven safe to use. It has no known drug interactions and is well tolerated by most people. The only noted side effect in a very small percent of people is upset stomach. Saw palmetto can be taken with zinc, vitamin b6, and azelaic acid for a synergistic effect.


Prostate Problems Saw Palmetto as Health Support and Benefits

(EMF News)

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), more commonly known as the Benign Enlargement of the Prostate (BEP) is best described as a non-cancerous increase in the size of the prostate. This swelling of the prostate gland obstructs the urethra, thereby resulting in various degrees of urinating difficulties. Some of which are, difficulty starting and stopping the flow of urine, reduced urine flow, painful urination, dribbling after urination and more frequent nighttime urination. Besides causing the patient embarrassment and pain, BPH can also lead to serious kidney problems if it is left undiagnosed and untreated.

As severe as this disease is, “it is a common problem in men over the age of 40 and it is estimated that between 50 to 60% of all men will get BPH in their lifetimes.” In fact, “it was one of the most prominent and costly diseases in men older than 50 years of age in a study in the United States.”

Saw palmetto is extracted from the deep purple berries of the saw palmetto fan palm (serenoa repens). Saw palmetto is a plant indigenous to the coastal regions of the southern United States and southern California.

According to Herb Wisdom saw palmetto medicinal uses were first documented in 1879 by Dr. J.B. Read, a physician in Savannah, Georgia. He published a paper on the medicinal benefits of the herb in the April 1879 issue of American Journal of Pharmacy. He found the herb useful in treating a wide range of conditions. “By its peculiar soothing power on the mucous membrane, it induces sleep, relieves the most troublesome coughs, promotes expectoration, improves digestion and increases fat, flesh and strength. Its sedative and diuretic properties are remarkable.” “Considering the great and diversified power of the saw palmetto as a therapeutic agent, it seems strange that it should have so long escaped the notice of the medical profession.”

Research has shown that saw palmetto improves some of the symptoms exhibited by patients with BPH such as frequent urination at night and trouble starting and maintaining urination. And according to the University Of Maryland Medical Center , some studies suggest that saw palmetto is also effective in improving libido in patients. They may actually shrink the size of the prostate gland. The active ingredients in saw palmetto include flavonoids, plant sterols and fatty acids. Saw palmetto contains high molecular weight polysaccharides, which helps reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. More importantly, beta-sitosterol that helps suppresses enzymes 5 alpha-reductase and aromatase. However, even though saw palmetto is the most recognized source of beta-sitosterol, the beta-sitosterol needed for this purpose must be concentrated. This makes it difficult to get the required dose of beta-sitosterol from eating saw palmetto.

This makes Endosterol a fantastic option when trying to rid yourself of an enlarged prostate and its attendant symptoms. Endosterol contains 150mg of saw palmetto extract per dose that includes high grade and concentrated beta-sitosterol and the other beneficial ingredients in saw palmetto.

Endosterol is a suppository and is ingested into the body system by insertion into the rectum. It dissolves at body temperature once it has been inserted. It gradually spreads to the lining of the rectum and subsequently absorbed into the bloodstream.


Top 6 Benefits of Saw Palmetto For Women

By Dr. Michael Kessler, DC

Saw palmetto is a low-growing palm tree that is typically used as an herbal treatment for men with enlarged prostates. But research shows that saw palmetto can also be beneficial for women, particularly when it comes to counteracting the physical manifestations of too much testosterone (i.e. baldness, acne, excess body hair, etc.)

Let’s take a further look at the health benefits of saw palmetto for women.

Benefits of Saw Palmetto For Women

1. Treats bladder disorders: According to the National Center for Complementary Alternative Medicine, women who experience bladder disorders, such as urinary tract infections, may benefit from taking saw palmetto. Studies show that saw palmetto is beneficial for reducing inflammation of the bladder and soothing painful urination.

2. Blocks the overproduction of testosterone: Saw palmetto helps reverse hirsutism, which is the unusual growth of facial or body hair, particularly in women. This is usually caused by an overabundance of hormones in the body. Saw palmetto has the ability to block the overproduction of testosterone in the female body, which will alleviate unwanted hair.

3. Treats hair loss: Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is derived from the male hormone testosterone—it is also the primary cause of hair loss in men and women. When DHT builds up in the hair follicle, it causes a gradual thinning of the hair shaft. Depending on one’s tolerance to this hormone, effects can include minimal hair loss, hair thinning, or balding. Research shows that saw palmetto can block 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.

4. Treats acne: The same DHT hormone that leads to hair loss also has the ability to cause an excess of sebum in the skin. The increased production of oil on your skin increases the chances of clogged pores. This can lead to blackheads and acne. As mentioned above, saw palmetto can block 5-alpha-reductase.

5. Treats menopausal symptoms: During menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, while the testosterone levels remain steady. Saw palmetto helps prevent weakening of the vaginal and uterine tissues, an uncomfortable side-effect menopausal women experience.

6. Reduces effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome: This is an endocrine system condition that affects a woman’s hormones. It causes excess facial and body hair, trouble losing unwanted weight, irregular menstruation, and infertility. Testosterone imbalance is associated to this condition. Saw palmetto may help reduce the effects of these symptoms mainly because of its hormonal effects. Side Effects and Warnings

Some people who take saw palmetto complain of stomach pain, nausea, bad breath, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, and indigestion. To reduce these symptoms, it’s best to take saw palmetto with food.

Reports indicate that saw palmetto may cause breast tenderness or enlargement, eye problems, mouth and teeth issues, inflammation of the pancreas, sexual dysfunction, and genital or urinary problems. Should I Take Saw Palmetto?

Consult with your doctor first before introducing saw palmetto into your diet. Avoid taking saw palmetto if you:

• Are scheduled to undergo surgery or dental work, have a bleeding disorder, or are taking prescription drugs that may induce bleeding
• Have high blood pressure or are taking medication that may affect your blood pressure
• Have hormone-sensitive conditions or are taking hormone agents
• Have a liver disorder or are taking medication for a liver disorder
• Have stomach disorders
• Are pregnant (to avoid any adverse effects on the fetus)
• Are breastfeeding
• Are a child

How to Take Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto can be consumed as a tablet, capsule, or even as a tea. Herbs are naturally very potent and can counteract certain medications, so it is essential that you speak to your doctor before adding saw palmetto to your diet.

If you are taking saw palmetto supplements to treat bald spots, it is generally recommended that you consume 200 milligrams (mg) twice a day, combined with 50 mg of beta-sitosterol twice a day. Interactions

Saw palmetto might reduce the effects of estrogen levels in the body and thus the effectiveness of birth control pills.

Again, make sure to first consult your doctor before introducing saw palmetto to your diet.

Saw palmetto shown to benefit prostate health

By Pamela Thiessen

As the body ages, changes can be expected. Skin becomes less elastic which brings on wrinkles, and hair thins and turns gray as pigment cells decline. Internally, bones lose mineral content which means greater danger of osteoporosis, and heart, lungs and kidneys become less efficient. How early these changes set in and how they develop – in other words, how your body ages – is different for different people. One change that affects almost all men over age 50 is some degree of prostate enlargement which leads to multiple problems with the urinary and reproductive systems, including an increase in the risk of prostate cancer. While prescription medications are available to reduce symptoms of an enlarged prostate, some men turn to a natural remedy called saw palmetto which in certain cases appears to be better tolerated than pharmaceutical products, is very affordable and in small studies has shown to have some efficacy. What is saw palmetto and does it have potential to mitigate symptoms of enlarged prostate?

First, a quick look at the role of the prostate in the body and what happens when it enlarges. The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland just below the bladder which produces seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. A man’s prostate grows during his life which is considered normal, but on reaching their 60s, nearly half of all men experience symptoms from a condition known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate. Once they reach eighty, 90 percent of men will experience this condition.

Bladder weakens

When one considers where the prostate gland is located, it is no surprise that the urinary system will be affected as the gland enlarges. What happens is the layer of surrounding tissue prevents the gland from expanding which causes a clamping effect on the urethra. The bladder usually weakens, resulting in symptoms such as obstructed urine flow, frequent urination, inadequate voiding, frequent discomfort and excessive night urination.

While BPH is inconvenient and even painful, it is a benign (not harmful) condition. However, changes to cells of the prostate can also cause precancerous conditions, meaning that the risk increases that the abnormal changes will become cancer. While prostate cancer usually grows slowly – and physicians inform patients they will probably die of some other cause – it can metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body. Statistics tell us that prostate cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among men in North America. Symptoms begin with difficulty in urinating (which may be attributed to BPH), blood in the urine, and pain in the pelvic area and back.

Saw palmetto is best known for its use in decreasing symptoms of BPH or enlarged prostate (particularly assisting with healthy urination). It has been used to treat prostate infections as well as prostate cancer (often in combination with other herbs). The question, of course, is how effective is saw palmetto in dealing with these conditions?

Saw palmetto is a low-growing plant, resembling a dwarf palm tree. The fruit of the plant or the berries are rich in fatty acids and phytosterols which have been extracted over the years and used in folk medicine to treat a variety of problems including migraine headache and chronic bronchitis but more often as a diuretic (increasing urine flow) and other problems with the bladder.

Shrinks the lining

How does saw palmetto do its work? It appears the herb doesn’t reduce the overall size of the prostate, but rather seems to shrink the inner lining that puts pressure on the tubes that carry urine. The saw palmetto berry also shows anti-inflammatory activity. Thus it makes sense that some studies have shown saw palmetto modestly mitigates conditions such as frequent urination. Research has also shown that ingesting saw palmetto daily for several months before prostate surgery can reduce time spent in surgery and amount of blood flow. However, in both cases there are conflicting reports on the success of saw palmetto and more research is needed.

Since saw palmetto affects testosterone levels – it appears to block conversion of the hormone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) a substance that encourages prostate cell growth – it has been concluded that the herb might help in preventing prostate cancer. However, there have been no conclusive studies that have shown this to be true.

How does one take saw palmetto? Although it is available in the dried form, it is much more convenient to purchase softgel capsules or tablets from stores that carry herbal remedies. Read the labels carefully since saw palmetto often appears in combination with other herbs that may increase its effectiveness.

Saw palmetto is safe for most people, although some have reported side effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea, constipation and diarrhea, but these are usually mild. Caution should be exercised if one is on anticoagulant drugs since saw palmetto may slow blood clotting (and thus increase risk of bleeding and bruising).


Natural health guide: saw palmetto

(ABC Health and Wellbeing)

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is called 'the old man's friend' because of its traditional use for urogenital irritations, impotence and male infertility. It is not fully clear how it works but it is believed to have anti-inflammatory activity and an inhibitory effect on androgens. What is it used for?

Non-cancerous prostate enlargement, called benign prostatic hyperplasia or hypertrophy (BPH), which can cause frequent or painful urination, reduced flow or volume. How is it used?

The berries of saw palmetto can be used whole or dried, made into extracts, teas and over the counter supplements.

Scientific evidence?

There are mixed results from studies. Numerous studies previously showed fair to good evidence that saw palmetto improves symptoms of mild to moderate BPH. Three previous reviews of between 17-21trials found there was some mild to moderate improvement in symptoms of BPH. However, a 2013 update of one of these reviews looked at 32 trials involving 5666 men and showed even using double or triple doses of saw palmetto did not improve symptoms of BPH.

The US based National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says there is currently not enough evidence to recommend using saw palmetto for BPH. Side-effects and interactions

Saw palmetto appears to be relatively safe. It may cause mild side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation and nausea.

Some men using it have reported tender breasts or a decline in sexual desire.

Don't use saw palmetto during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Saw palmetto might slow blood clotting, so stop using saw palmetto at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Saw Palmetto Photo Gallery