Saw palmetto has recently gained popularity in the U.S. for its medical uses among which is giving symptomatic relief for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) as well as conditions associated with the bladder and urinary tract. The extract of the partially dried berries of saw palmetto constitutes amounts of fatty acids like lauric acid, myristic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid, and also includes plant sterols and polysaccharides. The active part of saw palmetto is in these oils.
Saw palmetto is a type of dwarf palm that grows in some parts of Europe, Africa, and the southeastern part of the U.S. Many centuries back, saw palmetto was part of the staples of Indian-Americans who eventually discovered its uses. Today, however, substantive medical information on saw palmetto is yet to be supported by research. Most data from research only indicate that saw palmetto has no known side effects in laboratory animals that were fed 2g/kg of the herb’s extracts for six months.
Medical information on saw palmetto, as noted by previous researches, back up common claims on the efficacy of saw palmetto extracts for the symptomatic treatment of BPH but data are insufficient to conclude its benefits in breast enlargement, improving sexual desires, body building, or treating symptoms of asthma and chronic bronchitis.
The American Urological Association (AUA), a 9,500-member organization of urologists have warned that saw palmetto might mask symptoms of such diseases like prostate cancer or of the genitourinary system by inhibiting its symptoms like frequent urination, overflow incontinence, difficulty in initiating urination. The AUA have not released further medical information on saw palmetto to support admonitions saw palmetto supplements manufacturers. The AUA stresses that urinary tract diseases, common in men 40 and above, may be symptoms of far more serious illnesses that need medical attention rather than treating symptoms alone, which may result in the delayed treatment when the disease is already on its advanced stage.
For saw palmetto to at least have some perceptible benefits, a daily dose of 160-320mg containing 80-90% of extract is recommended. Medical information on saw palmetto in relation to its contraindications was substantiated in a laboratory research conducted on rats and dogs that were fed 2g/kg of saw palmetto for six months. The subjects did not seem to show ill-side effects. The most common side effect of saw palmetto is gastrointestinal distress, which can be relieved by taking saw palmetto along with food.