Unexpected Benefits of Saw Palmetto…

Saw Palmetto has surprising benefits for both men and women, from prostrate and inflammatory issues, to hormonal balance and even hair loss.

Saw Palmetto

(Updated 11/14/2023)

It is a small palm native to the southeastern United States, has garnered significant attention for its health benefits, particularly in herbal medicine.

Here are some of the key benefits it offers for both men and women:

  1. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH):
    Saw palmetto is perhaps most well-known for its role in supporting prostate health. It is commonly used to alleviate the symptoms of BPH, a condition characterized by an enlarged prostate, leading to issues like frequent urination and difficulty in urinating. Some studies suggest that it can help reduce the prostate size and relieve urinary symptoms.
  2. Hair Health:
    It is also believed to prevent hair loss by blocking 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a molecule associated with hair loss. This makes it a popular herbal remedy for both men and women experiencing hair thinning or loss.
  3. Hormonal Balance:
    For women, it may help in managing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and other conditions associated with hormonal imbalances. It’s thought to have an anti-androgen effect, which can be beneficial in conditions where excess male hormones are a concern.
  4. Anti-inflammatory Properties:
    This mighty natural remedy exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful in treating various inflammatory conditions. This can be beneficial for both men and women dealing with chronic inflammation or autoimmune disorders.
  5. Urinary Tract Health:
    Both men and women may find saw palmetto helpful in maintaining urinary tract health. It is thought to strengthen the urinary organs and has been used traditionally to treat minor urinary complaints.
  6. Sexual Health:
    Some believe that it can boost libido and sexual function, although scientific evidence in this area is limited. It may help by balancing hormone levels and supporting overall reproductive health.
  7. Other Potential Benefits:
    Emerging research suggests saw palmetto might have a role in cancer prevention, particularly prostate cancer, due to its effects on hormone regulation. However, more research is needed in this area.

It’s important to note that while saw palmetto is generally considered safe (see precautions below). As always, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement. This is true especially for individuals with existing health conditions or those taking medications.

Also, like all supplements, the quality of saw palmetto products can vary, so it’s important to choose a reputable brand.

Mostly known for benign prostate hypertrophy

At least seven controlled studies on saw palmetto demonstrate that standardized saw palmetto berry extract is better than placebo for treating symptoms of benign prostate hypertrophy. Symptoms include frequent urination, restricted urine flow, nighttime urination.

Notably, Saw Palmetto berry performed better than some prescriptives.

Controlled studies demonstrated that saw palmetto berry extract is better than placebo for treating symptoms of benign prostate hypertrophy.

In one study, the herb was nearly as effective as the prescription drug prazosin for controlling such symptoms, and in other research it reportedly performed better than the prescription prostate medicine inasteride in reducing symptoms.

Research using ultrasound has shown that saw palmetto berry extract can shrink enlarged prostate tissue.

Some research has shown that saw palmetto berries may also have anti-inflammatory activity and can help reduce allergic reactions.

The plant has been used traditionally as a diuretic and may also help to stimulate immune response.

The herb’s effect on enlarged prostate tissue is by far the most clinically important.


Its berries contain free fatty acids and plant sterol compounds described as phytosterols or sitosterols, especially beta-sitosterol and some related chemicals.

These ingredients appear to modify estrogen receptors and block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more active chemical.

There are also flavonoids and some polysaccharides in the berries, but their activity has not been described. Standardized products contain 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols.

The Plant:

Also called sabal palm, it grows in the southeastern United States. Its dark berries were traditionally made into a tea and taken for urinary problems or sexual difficulties.

During much of the nineteenth century, saw palmetto berry extract was included in the National Formulary, a list of acceptable medicines, to treat the symptoms of prostate enlargement.

As medicine came to rely more on science, doctors became skeptical about the value of this botanical remedy and it was dropped from the Formulary before 1950.

More recent studies indicate that it is indeed effective for this indication and probably should never have been dropped.


For early stages of benign prostate enlargement: 320 mg extract daily, in divided doses, or the equivalent of 1 or 2 grams of saw palmetto berries. Four to six weeks may be required to determine if the herb is helping.

Saw Palmetto Special Precautions:

It is not recommended to use “home grown” berries. Even those who have the herb growing in their backyards may want to stick with commercial extracts rather than try to make their own tea. The berries do not taste good, and most of the active ingredients appear to be less soluble in water than in alcohol or hexane.

Estrogen-like activity and the ability to block testosterone conversion suggest that pregnant women and those who may become pregnant should avoid contact with saw palmetto berry extract.

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