Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a type of palm native to the southeastern United States. The berries of the plant are commonly used in supplements to improve prostate health, balance hormone levels, and prevent hair loss in men. Saw palmetto, also known as Serenoa repens or Sabal serrulatum, is an herb that is most commonly used to treat problems related to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The medicinal element of saw palmetto is taken from the partially dried ripe fruit of the American dwarf palm tree, which is indigenous to the coastal regions of the southern United States, from the Carolinas and Florida to California
It’s also associated with other benefits , including decreased inflammation and improved urinary function.
It has 5 promising benefits which are follows-
- Prevents loss of hair
- Helps in improving urinary tract function.
- Supports prostate health.
- Reduce inflammation.
- Helps in regulation of testosterone levels.
It helps in stimulation of hair growth by balancing hormone levels. According to one review, saw palmetto may help block the activity of 5-alpha reductase (5a -r), an enzyme that converts testosterone into a hormone linked to hair loss called dihydrotestosterone. Another study in 62 adults showed applying saw palmetto topically for 3 months increased hair density by 35%
Saw palmetto may improve urinary symptoms associated with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) — a condition that causes an enlargement of the prostate gland and results in decreased urine flow.
Extracts of the saw palmetto berry are widely used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, often as an alternative to pharmaceutical agents. In a national survey conducted in 2002, 1.1 percent of the adult population in the United States, or approximately 2.5 million adults, reported using saw palmetto. The herb is widely used in Europe, where half of German urologists prefer prescribing plant-based extracts to synthetic drugs. Although most prior randomized trials of saw palmetto have reported small improvements in the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia or in urinary flow rates, these studies are limited by the small numbers of subjects enrolled, their short duration, their failure to use standard outcome measures, and the lack of information from participants concerning how effectively the placebo was blinded. Using widely accepted outcome measures and a matched placebo capsule, we conducted a randomized, double-blind trial to determine the efficacy of saw palmetto for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
In this double-blind trial, we randomly assigned 225 men over the age of 49 years who had moderate-to-severe symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia to one year of treatment with saw palmetto extract (160 mg twice a day) or placebo. The primary outcome measures were changes in the scores on the American Urological Association Symptom Index (AUASI) and the maximal urinary flow rate. Secondary outcome measures included changes in prostate size, residual urinary volume after voiding, quality of life, laboratory values, and the rate of reported adverse effects.
There was no significant difference between the saw palmetto and placebo groups in the change in AUASI scores (mean difference, 0.04 point; 95 percent confidence interval, –0.93 to 1.01), maximal urinary flow rate (mean difference, 0.43 ml per minute; 95 percent confidence interval, –0.52 to 1.38), prostate size, residual volume after voiding, quality of life, or serum prostate-specific antigen levels during the one-year study. The incidence of side effects was similar in the two groups.
In this study, saw palmetto did not improve symptoms or objective measures of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Another study was conducted for a systematic review and, where possible, quantitative meta-analysis of the existing evidence regarding the therapeutic efficacy and safety of the saw palmetto plant extract, Serenoa repens, in men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Randomized trials were included if participants had symptomatic BPH, the intervention was a preparation of S repens alone or in combination with other phytotherapeutic agents, a control group received placebo or other pharmacological therapies for BPH, and the treatment duration was at least 30 days.
Two investigators for each article (T.J.W., A.I., G.S., and R.M.) independently extracted key data on design features, subject characteristics, therapy allocation, and outcomes of the studies.
A total of 18 randomized controlled trials involving 2939 men met inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Many studies did not report results in a method that permitted meta-analysis. Treatment allocation concealment was adequate in 9 studies; 16 were double-blinded. The mean study duration was 9 weeks (range, 4-48 weeks). As compared with men receiving placebo, men treated with S repens had decreased urinary tract symptom scores (weighted mean difference [WMD], −1.41 points [scale range, 0-19] [95% confidence interval (CI), −2.52 to −0.30] [n=1 study]), nocturia (WMD, −0.76 times per evening [95% CI, −1.22 to −0.32] [n=10 studies]), and improvement in self-rating of urinary tract symptoms; risk ratio for improvement (1.72 [95% CI, 1.21-2.44] [n=6 studies]), and peak urine flow (WMD, 1.93 mL/s [95% CI, 0.72-3.14] [n=8 studies]). Compared with men receiving finasteride, men treated with S repens had similar improvements in urinary tract symptom scores (WMD, 0.37 International Prostate Symptom Score points [scale range, 0-35] [95% CI, −0.45 to 1.19] [n=2 studies]) and peak urine flow (WMD, −0.74 mL/s [95% CI, −1.66 to 0.18] [n=2 studies]). Adverse effects due to S repens were mild and infrequent; erectile dysfunction was more frequent with finasteride (4.9%) than with S repens (1.1%; P <.001). Withdrawal rates in men assigned to placebo, S repens, or finasteride were 7%, 9%, and 11%, respectively.
The existing literature on S repens for treatment of BPH is limited in terms of the short duration of studies and variability in study design, use of phytotherapeutic preparations, and reports of outcomes. However, the evidence suggests that S repens improve urologic symptoms and flow measures. Compared with finasteride, S repens produces similar improvement in urinary tract symptoms and urinary flow and was associated with fewer adverse treatment events. Further research is needed using standardized preparations of S repens to determine its long-term effectiveness and ability to prevent BPH 2] Currently available data suggest that S. repens is well tolerated by most users and is not associated with serious adverse events. The majority of adverse events are mild, infrequent and reversible, and include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and fatigue, headache, decreased libido and rhinitis. We found no evidence for drug interactions with S. repens. However, higher quality reporting of adverse events is essential if safety assessments are to be improved in future.