Saw palmetto comes from a palm-like plant that grows in the southeast United States. The berries of this plant are used to make the capsule form of saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is also known as American Dwarf Palm Tree, Baies du Palmier Scie, Cabbage Palm, Chou Palmiste, Ju-Zhong, Palma Enana Americana, Palmier Nain, Palmier Scie, Sabal, Serenoa, and other names. Saw palmetto blocks certain effects of certain hormones in the body and also has some anti-inflammatory actions.
It has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in preventing complications from prostate surgery (such as blood loss or problems during surgery) and reducing the time spent in surgery and in the hospital after surgery. Saw palmetto has also been used to treat symptoms of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH), such as increased night-time urination or decreased urinary flow. However, research has shown that saw palmetto may not be effective in treating this condition.
Other uses not proven with research have included treating sore throat, cough, cold symptoms, asthma, bronchitis, migraine headache, male-pattern baldness, chronic pelvic pain and prostate swelling, bladder problems, prostate cancer, and other conditions. It is not certain whether saw palmetto is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Saw palmetto should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.
Saw palmetto is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.
Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use. Before using saw palmetto, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use saw palmetto if you have certain medical conditions., such as:
- a bleeding or blood clotting disorder (such as hemophilia);
- liver disease; or
- a pancreas disorder.
Saw palmetto is a hormone and is not likely to be safe to use during pregnancy. Do not use saw palmetto if you are pregnant. Saw palmetto can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using non hormonal birth control (condom, diaphragm with spermicide) to prevent pregnancy. Saw palmetto may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby. Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.
When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements. If you choose to use saw palmetto, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.