Saw palmetto is a plant classified under the plant family called shrubs; woody plants smaller than tree, usually have multiple permanent stem branching from the ground or near the ground like a pineapple, having sharp, saw-like teeth on the stalks that are attached to the leaves to its stem.
The saw palmetto is a dwarf palm tree that produces dark berries that contain a large seed. It is native to the southeast regions of North America; it is especially abundant in Georgia, Cuba, Florida and the Bahamas.
- Botanical name: Serenoa repens
- Common names: Shrub, American dwarf palm tree, cabbage palm, Palmar Enana Americana, Sabal serrulata, Chou Palmiste
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Clade: Tracheophytes, Angiosperms, Monocots, Commelinids
- Order: Arecales
- Family: Arecaceae
- Subfamily: Coryphoideae
- Tribe: Trachycarpeae
- Genus: Serenoa
- Species: S. repens
Saw palmetto and its fruit (saw palmetto berries) are widely known to be medicinal, used in decreasing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and treating several prostate infections. According to several researches, it is effective for this use.
Benefits / Uses of Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is known to some region to be effective against certain types of prostate infections and it is sometimes used, in combination with other herbs to combat prostate cancer.
While some Native American folks values the plant for its nutrition, uses against cold, sore throat, asthma, pelvic pain syndrome (PPS), migraine headaches, chronic bronchitis and cough, medical experts believe that saw palmetto can serve as:
- A diuretic (used to increase the follow of urine).
- An aphrodisiac (enhancer of sexual drives).
- A sedative (promotes relaxation).
Presently, the berries are dried and used to make herbal tea brewing or eaten whole. The dried and powdered saw palmetto is widely available in markets and even online in forms of capsules and tablets. But still it is most commonly demanded and supplied in its oily extract form from the fatty portions of the dried berries.
Depending on the extract methods, this supplement may contain up to 75% fats, providing a higher amount of beneficial plant compounds such as antioxidants and vitamin A compound to other plant supplements.
The use of Saw Palmetto for Prostate infection and urinary malfunction.
A prostate is a chest-nut shaped gland found between the urinary bladder and the penis in men and vagina for women.
It secretes a thin, milky, fluid with an alkaline pH which neutralizes the acidic fluid containing sperm cells (semen), enhances mobility of sperm cells and helps to neutralize the acidic secretions of the vagina.
Now the prostate may be small, but it is a delicate gland that role in our everyday lives and due to its function and contents, can easily be infected or grow out of proportion.
How does Saw palmetto works against enlargement of the prostate?
Now, saw palmetto does not actually reduce or shrink the overall size of the prostate but instead, it seems to shrink the inner linings (inner wall surface of the prostate) that puts pressure on the urinary tract (the tubes that carries urine).
Saw palmetto supplements may help in a medical treatment of prostate enlargements, a procedure termed benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH- a medical treatment characterized by a slow, noncancerous yet abnormal enlargement of the prostate).
This condition is very common in older men, affecting up to 75% of adult men in their 70s. If left untreated, an enlarged prostate can grow to a point of blocking the bladder thereby disrupting the flow of urine.
Symptoms like sudden urges to urinate, frequent urination, painful urination and sometimes inability to urinate are the result of an enlarged prostate.
But these symptoms can be treated using saw palmetto and base on its application, it can also decrease the need to urinate during night times, increase urine flow and make it easier to completely empty the bladder.
Though the saw palmetto therapy seems to work as well as some prescription, it takes about two months to treatment before signs of improvement.
The use of Saw Palmetto for prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the much demise in the reproductive lives of men as it rarely affects women.
As earlier stated, saw palmetto seems to have a positive impact on the levels of the male hormone, testosterone, it may also help to reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the prostate.
For this reason, most native American men has had prostate cancer or are prone to this abnormality take saw palmetto supplements in addition to traditional treatment.
Researches show the effectiveness of saw palmetto against prostate infections and prostate cancer but anyone with keen concerns about these topics should always speak to a doctor.
It is of utmost importance to seek proper guidance and diagnosis from a professional before going for alternative remedies.
The use of Saw Palmetto for increasing Sex Drive.
The major chemical that plays a major role in the sex drive of both male and female is the hormone testosterone (note; Yes! females does produce testosterone though not like the male but in sufficient amount needed by their bodies).
Testosterone is linked to fertility because it facilitates the production of both ova (eggs) and sperm. Effectively, saw palmetto taken in attempts to increase the testosterone levels can subsequently increase libido (desire for sexual activities) or have a greater desire for sex.
Baldness and Hair Loss
Some people report that the use of saw palmetto with beta-sitostetrol can make hair grow more, fast and better.
Saw palmetto may also be taken against other range of minor ailments, including:
- Sore throat, flu and cough.
- Chronic bronchitis.
- Serious painful headaches.
- Sleeping disorders.
NOTE: The use of saw palmetto as medications for these conditions and ailments is totally based on tradition as researchers know little about its active ingredients, or if it improves the symptoms related to these illnesses.
Interactions and safety
When administering saw palmetto and its supplements, it is important to check and follow the recommended dosage on the packet.
For first timers, it is advisable to consult a doctor who can help to cross check its safety and use alongside existing medications.
As saw palmetto may interact with other hormones, in other to prevent hormonal in balance, expecting and lactating (breastfeeding) mothers and women taking birth control pills should not take it.
It has also shown that it slows blood clotting, therefore people under anticoagulant medications or using anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin should also avoid saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto has not been shown to interact strongly with any drugs but some Side effects from using saw palmetto may include:
- digestive disorders like diarrhea and constipation
- Vomiting and so on
While there are evidence to support the facts that saw palmetto might have positive impacts, more research is required to ascertain and conclude the severity of its potential side effects and the effectiveness of its treatment for prostate related conditions.