Saw palmetto

Serenoa repens is the botanical name for the commonly known herb, saw palmetto. Also commonly known as dwarf plum, saw palmetto is a herbal medicine that is part of the Palmaceae or palm family1. It is native to the West Indies and South United States, and is also found in tropical areas of Australia. It grows as a small palm tree around one to four metres tall with high creeping branches, woody stems and leaves that are blade or saw-like (hence the name saw palmetto), arranged like fans. Saw palmetto also produces white flowers and purple-black fleshy berries. It is the berries that possess the medicinal and bioactive properties of the plant, which are rich in fatty acids, flavonoids and phytosterols. They are used medicinally when dried or in the form of a liquid extract2, 3.

 

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Saw palmetto uses

Saw palmetto has a fairly long history of use as a medicinal herb and for everyday use too. The Native Americans harvested the plant’s leaves for mattress stuffing and thatched roofing and also to weave into hats and baskets. Then, white settlers adopted the plant and between 1906 and 1917, it was listed as part of the United States Pharmacopoeia. It was known during this time as the ‘old man’s friend’ due to its effects on the male reproductive system1, 3, 6. It has since been used in Western Herbal medicine as a male tonic, to support male reproductive health and to support healthy sexual function in men2. It is also used in Asian, African and European countries for prostate health5. Read on to discover the benefits saw palmetto has on the male reproductive system.

 

Saw Palmetto benefits

 

Saw palmetto for prostate health

Saw palmetto helps reduce inflammation of the prostate gland. Research shows it can be useful on its own, in combination with nutrients like lycopene and selenium, or alongside medications such as antibiotics3. Its anti-inflammatory action is due to its ability to hinder the inflammatory prostaglandin-forming actions of the enzymes lipooxygenase and cyclooxygenase4.

Supporting healthy reproductive hormone

Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men, responsible for normal sexual function and libido, sperm health, prostate health and more. Saw palmetto’s bioactive compounds help to balance male reproductive hormones, particularly due to its phytosterol content. Saw palmetto’s phytosterols inhibit the action of an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase that can metabolise testosterone into a form called dihydrotestosterone, which can cause prostatic enlargement and of course, an imbalance in testosterone levels, impacting normal healthy sexual function4.

 

Other uses for saw palmetto

There is little information and research regarding saw palmetto for women’s skin and the prevention of hair loss in women. More scientific evidence is required to support its effects on women’s skin and hair, so it is not recommended you use saw palmetto in any other way than how it has been prescribed to you.

 

Saw palmetto dosage

The dosage of saw palmetto will depend on your current state of health and health goals. As with all herbal medicines, it is recommended you seek advice from your healthcare professional before taking saw palmetto, especially if you have been diagnosed with any medical conditions regarding the prostate gland and/or are already taking any medications or supplements.

Australian NaturalCare’s Saw Palmetto Prostate Formula supplement contains 3.2g (3200mg) of saw palmetto dry fruit per capsule, along with other nutrients to support the health of the prostate gland and support healthy male reproductive hormones. Our formula also helps to relieve inflammation and free radical damage in the body.

 

REFERENCES

1. Braun, L., Cohen, M. (2015) Herbs & Natural Supplements. An evidence based guide. Vol 2. Churchill Livingstone, NSW, pp: 875 - 880

2. Fisher. C., Painter, G. (1996) Materia Medica of Western Herbs for the Southern Hemisphere. National Herbalists Association of Australia, pp- 27-28

3. Bone, K., Mills, B. (2013), Principles & Practice of Phytotherapy, 2nd ed, Chapter: Saw Palmetto, pp. 804-817, Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier

4. Hechtman, L. (2012), Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Chapter: The Male Reproductive System, pp.872-935, Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier

5. Capodice, J.L. et al (2005), Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2(4): 495-501

6. Castleman, M. (2001), The New Healing Herbs, The Classic Guide To Nature’s Best Medicines, Chapter: Saw Palmetto, pp. 401-403, Hinkler Books