What is Saw Palmetto?
Saw palmetto is an extract obtained from the ripe fruit of a plant called Serenoa repens.
It has been used in traditional medicine credit to phytosterols and fatty acid contents.
Mostly, Saw palmetto helps in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as enlarged prostate.
In one clinical trial, it was found out that Saw palmetto was more effective than the placebo used in the treatment BPH.
Other than prostate infections, Saw palmetto is also used to treat coughs and colds, asthma, chronic bronchitis, sore throat, and migraine headaches among others.
In addition, it is considered as a diuretic and aphrodisiac that increases the flow of blood to boost sex drive, and as a sedative for relaxation.
Where does it Come from?
Saw palmetto is extracted from the ripe fruit of Serenoa repens commonly used in traditional medicines by American Indians as food and in treating urinary and reproductive system problems.
The Mayans used Saw palmetto as a tonic drink while Seminoles used the berries as an expectorant and antiseptic.
It is estimated that European and American medical practitioners have used crude Saw palmetto extract for over 200 years.
What are its Possible Health Benefits?
Studies have found that Saw palmetto extract can be effective in the treatment of various health conditions including:
- Shortens Prostate Surgery: Studies indicate that daily consumption of 320 milligrams of Saw palmetto extracts for 2 months can shorten the duration required to undergo prostate surgery. It prevents blood loss or the emergence of complications during the process.
- It promotes the flow of blood to the reproductive organs to boost sex drive and performance.
- It helps to treat some symptoms associated with BPH, especially in elderly men.
- It has anti-inflammatory effects which have complimentary benefits on prostate health.
- It improves urinary tract symptoms and urinary flow, according to a study involving 239 subjects with symptomatic BPH.
- It helps in the maintenance of healthy levels of testosterone hormones.
- It prevents hair loss and premature aging.
What are the Potential Side Effects of Saw Palmetto?
Whereas Saw palmetto is considered to be safe, it may trigger certain mild side effects, especially if taken in higher doses.
Some of the side effects that have been reported from the use of Saw palmetto include constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and headache. Nevertheless, these side effects are not common like those triggered by a sugar pill.
Some people have reported experiencing allergic reactions after taking Saw palmetto. These include gastrointestinal problems, increased bleeding and altered desire for sex.
If you have heart disease, use of Saw palmetto can increase the risk of getting a heart attack, according to preliminary findings.
Although there is no enough evidence, researchers are also worried that Saw palmetto extract can trigger liver or pancreas problems.
Recommended Doses and Timing for Saw Palmetto
Doses and timing for Saw palmetto that have undergone scientific research include those dealing with benign prostatic hyperplasia and bald spots.
- BHP: Take 160 milligrams of Saw palmetto twice a day or 320 milligrams once daily.
- Bald spots: combine 200 milligrams of Saw palmetto with 50 milligrams of beta-sitosterol. Take the combination twice every day.
Doses and timing may vary depending on the condition being dealt with. It is, therefore, recommendable to follow manufacturer’s instruction or seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner.
Uses of Saw Palmetto in Supplements
Several supplements available in the market contain Saw palmetto as one of the active ingredients.
The supplements are available in different formulations meant to address a number of health problems including loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, premature aging, hair loss, enlarged prostate, coughs, colds, asthma, and chronic back pain among others.
However, it is not recommendable to take Saw palmetto supplements if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or about to undergo prostate surgery.
Discontinue the use of supplements containing Saw palmetto if you experience adverse side effects or negative interactions.
Saw Palmetto Interactions
In addition, Saw palmetto can interfere with hormone replacement therapy. If you combine Saw palmetto with anticoagulant medications, it can increase the risk of bleeding.
Birth control pills that should not be combined with Saw palmetto extract include Ethinyl estradiol and Levonorgestrel. Anticoagulant drugs to avoid when using Saw palmetto are Fragmin, Lovenox, Voltaren, and Cataflam among others.
Saw palmetto extract is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols which have been scientifically shown to be effective in dealing with health-related problems like BPH and urinary tract infections.
With more researches being underway, it might emerge that these extracts are beneficial to the overall well-being of a person.
However, more studies are also required to ascertain the safety and efficiency of Saw palmetto extracts after long-term use.
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