Saw palmetto, or Serenoa repens, is a dwarf palm native to southeastern North America. Its red berries have a long history of traditional use for treating urinary and reproductive problems. Today, saw palmetto is the third-top-selling herbal supplement in the US and is backed by an ever-increasing body of research.
Saw palmetto has been used since the early 1700s to treat prostate inflammation. Its extracts are now valued around the world by men with enlarged prostates. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and affects more than 50 percent of men by age 60. By helping to ease inflammation in the prostate gland, saw palmetto is believed to slow the development of BPH and related growth—especially when combined with other nourishing prostate remedies like lycopene and selenium.
When a man’s prostate gland becomes enlarged it puts pressure on the urethra, causing a range of uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing urinary symptoms. Thankfully, saw palmetto can help keep life with BPH enjoyable. Clinical trials have shown that after taking saw palmetto for about six months, BPH patients found it much easier to urinate, experienced less discomfort and burning when urinating, and had better bladder control so they did not have to urinate as often.
Fewer washroom visits at night
Getting a good night’s sleep can be hard enough as it is, let alone when you wake up multiple times per night to use the toilet. Saw palmetto, which is commonly taken for nocturia or frequent nighttime urination, may help you catch more ZZZs. Men taking part in clinical studies have found that after supplementing with saw palmetto extracts, they woke less frequently and reduced their nighttime washroom visits by about one trip.
Applying saw palmetto lotion directly to the scalp, as well as supplementing with its extract, has been shown to encourage hair growth in up to 83 percent of patients with pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) and stress-induced hair loss. Both men and women have experienced noticeable results using saw palmetto, benefiting from 60 percent better hair quality, 27 percent more hair strands, and as a result, lower anxiety levels.
Nourishing fats and sterols
Saw palmetto is a wonderful source of plant-based fatty acids and sterols, most notably beta-sitosterol which is the secret behind many of saw palmetto’s benefits. On top of supporting prostate health, a diet rich in plant sterols helps lower the body’s absorption of cholesterol, and as a result, plays an important role in keeping LDL (bad) cholesterol levels down. The trick to maximizing saw palmetto’s benefits is choosing liquid extracts, which have higher sterol levels.
A happy side effect of taking saw palmetto for prostate health is better sexual function. After 24 weeks of supplementation, one group of men found that they were much better able to have an erection—and as a result, felt better about their quality of life. Although the reason behind this benefit is still a mystery, scientists have learned that supplements with higher beta-sitosterol concentrations offer the greatest sexual benefits.
Saw palmetto has become a sought-after therapy for restoring healthy estrogen and testosterone balance in the body. Thanks to its therapeutic sterol content, saw palmetto is believed to work as an anti-androgen, helping to buffer the activity of overactive sex hormones like testosterone. It offers a natural way for people with elevated androgen levels, including men with BPH and women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), to support their hormonal health.
Higher urine flow
Losing the ability to completely empty the bladder is a common challenge for men as they age. When left untreated, this can increase the risk of urinary tract infections and kidney damage. This is why saw palmetto’s traditional use as a diuretic adds even more value to its role in urinary health. Clinical studies show that regular supplementation with saw palmetto increases urine flow, allowing men to empty their bladders up to 11 percent more efficiently when urinating.
Prostatitis pain management
Saw palmetto extract is a natural and effective solution for managing symptoms of prostatitis—a disorder that typically strikes men in their 40s with pain or discomfort in the pelvic region. Very few therapies have been proven effective for pelvic pain, yet supplementing with saw palmetto extract for 12 weeks has been found to reduce symptoms in 73 percent of patients. And unlike many prescription-based therapies, saw palmetto has few side effects.
Eating an antioxidant-rich diet is an important part of keeping the body’s antioxidant status up and ultimately its oxidative stress and inflammation under control. Saw palmetto berries are a wonderful source of antioxidants that have been shown through animal studies to lower inflammation and boost the body’s antioxidant status.