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Saw Palmetto Benefits

Saw palmetto is a herb that has been used throughout the centuries. Go through this story for a brief overview about its benefits.
Sonia Nair
A type of small palm found in southeastern United States, saw palmetto lacks erect trunks or stems and is usually seen in coastal areas, especially as an undergrowth in pine woods. It has fan-like leaves with spiny petioles. They grow to a maximum height of around two to four meters and produce cream-colored flowers and blackish berries.
This slow-growing palm is usually found in dense clusters. This palm is highly valued for the medicinal properties of its berries. It is said that saw palmetto berries were once a food source for human beings. Even today, this herb is being used for therapeutic purposes.

Benefits of Saw Palmetto

Humans have been using herbs since time immemorial. Saw palmetto is one such herb that is said to have been used by Native Americans and Mayans for treating certain medical conditions and to boost health. These berries with a repulsive taste, also used by the aboriginal Americans for treating urinary tract infections and disorders of the reproductive system.
It is said that ancient people used this herb for boosting appetite, for breast enlargement and for increasing lactation. Even today, it is used as a supplement and is claimed to have several benefits for both men and women. Nowadays, this herb is available in the form of dried or ground berries, liquid extract, tablets, capsules and tea.
  • One of the most important saw palmetto benefits for men, is its use in reducing the symptoms associated with enlarged prostate.
  • Even though, there is no scientific backing to prove the effectiveness of this herb (in relieving enlarged prostate symptoms), some of the users find it beneficial for improving symptoms like, frequent nighttime urination and decreased urinary flow.
  • This herb is not found to reduce the size of enlarged prostate, but is claimed to be effective in reducing prostate inflammation. However, there is no evidence to prove its effectiveness in treating prostate infection and prostate cancer.
  • Saw palmetto is also used to treat male pattern baldness, as it is said to block some of the actions of testosterone. This herb is also believed to be beneficial for treating urinary tract infections and other bladder disorders.
  • There are various female health issues that are claimed to be curable with saw palmetto. They include hormone imbalance that can cause a lot of problems like premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • For women, it is used for reducing menstrual discomfort, cramps and headache.
  • As in case of men, saw palmetto benefits for hair loss is applicable for women, who have male pattern baldness. This herb is also claimed to have properties that may prove beneficial for breast enlargement.
  • Even though, it is said to be unsafe for women to use this herb during pregnancy and breastfeeding, in some regions, it is used for increasing lactation. It is also said to control high blood pressure and increase sex drive.
  • It is also used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and related symptoms like acne and hirsutism.

Is it Safe to Use Saw Palmetto?

Even though, there is no scientific evidence to prove its health benefits, saw palmetto remains one of the popular herbal supplements. While it is claimed to be a safe herb, possibility of side effects cannot be ruled out completely. Such side effects may be moderate, mild or even severe and may not be the same for all users.
Problems of the gastrointestinal system are among the most common side effects of this herb. The following are some of the less severe side effects of saw palmetto.
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Nausea, Vomiting
  • Dizziness, Bad breath
  • Breast tenderness
  • Increased/decreased sex drive
  • Insomnia, Muscle pain
  • Depression
While most of the users complain about mild side effects, there are some, who experience severe symptoms, which may include pancreatitis, liver inflammation, heart problems, high blood pressure and allergic reactions.
There are reports of side effects like extreme fatigue, chest pain, black or tarry stools, blood in vomit and easy bruising or bleeding. In case of severe side effects, immediate medical attention must be sought.
Though, side effects of saw palmetto are very rare, they cannot be ruled out completely. So, it is always better to use this herb under the strict supervision of a qualified herbal practitioner. The herb may also cause drug interactions.
Those with underlying medical conditions and those who are taking medication must seek the opinion of their physician, before taking this herb. It may increase the risk of bleeding, as the herb can slow down the process of blood clotting.
So, those who are preparing for a surgery or those with bleeding disorders must avoid this herb. Even pregnant and nursing women and kids must not use this herb. Saw palmetto is not approved by the FDA for treating any medical condition and there is no strict rule with regard to its manufacturing standards.
So, some of the saw palmetto products are found to have other herbs, drugs and toxins. It is advisable to talk to a qualified herbal practitioner about the safety of the herb, mode of use, dosage and duration of use.
Disclaimer: This story is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.