Saw Palmetto for Enlarged Prostate (BPH)
September 15, 2008
The berries from the saw palmetto plant have long been as food staple and in medicine for Native Americans in the southeastern U.S. As a medicine it was used to treat a variety of conditions, including inflammation, impotence, infertility, urinary problems, and even to promote hair growth.
Research continues to validate what the Native American medicine men knew centuries ago. The late 19th century saw an increase in appreciate for the beneficial effects of saw palmetto on livestock. And this resulted in its use in the treatment of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia also known as BPH) in men. By the mid-1940's interest declined in the U.S. for the medicinal use of this wonderful plant, but Europe never lost their zeal for it and still routinely use it in the treatment of BPH.
Over the last decade, research and individual testimonials have renewed interest in the use of saw palmetto as an effective remedy for urinary problems. Numerous Studies have shown that saw palmetto is an effective treatment for enlarged prostate (BPH), dramatically reducing the urinary symptoms associated with the condition.
What is BPH?
The prostate is the male reproductive gland that produces the fluid that carries the sperm. The urethra, which allows urine to leave the body, is surrounded by the prostate gland. In BPH there is an over growth of cells in the prostate gland causing it to become enlarged. As the gland increases in size pressure is placed on the urethra resulting in urination and bladder problems.
BPH is common in men between the ages of 40 - 60. It is not the same as prostrate cancer and it does not increase the risk of prostate cancer. Symptoms of BPH include:
How Saw Palmetto May Help
Saw palmetto has a long history of reducing inflammation and enlargement of the prostate. Research suggests that saw palmetto shrinks the prostate, which naturally reduces the BPH symptoms. It has been used my millions of men for relief of urinary problems and as an alternative to prescription medications. While some studies suggest that saw palmetto may not greatly decrease the size of the prostate, they generally acknowledge that it does improve urinary symptoms of BPH. The effectiveness may be similar to the medication finasteride (Proscar®), but with fewer side effects. While finasteride (Proscar®) generally takes up to a year to produce significant results, saw palmetto has been shown to give relief from symptoms within the first 30 days of treatment.
In 1999, Urology Times, a leading magazine for urologist, published the results of the first American randomized clinical trial of saw palmetto. The study indicated that the plant does reduce swelling in enlarged prostate tissue. In this six-month double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants were given 320 mg of saw palmetto and nettle root or a placebo daily. Those receiving the saw palmetto/nettle root combination saw a modest reduction in BPH urination symptoms. More than half of the participants were satisfied with the results and most of them chose to continue using saw palmetto after the study was completed.
Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before trying Saw Palmetto for BPH symptoms. This is particularly important if you are taking blood thinners, such as Warfarin (Coumadin), or have been diagnosed with a hormone-related cancer, such as prostate cancer. Allergic reactions to saw palmetto may include breathing problems, tightness in your throat or chest, skin hives, rash, itchy or swollen skin or chest pain. Stop using it if you experience any these allergic reaction and seek medical attention for any reaction that affects your breathing.