Saw Palmetto - The Herb for Men
Saw Palmetto has quite a history. It is actually the extract from the berry of a short palm tree found mainly in Florida and Georgia in the United States. Long before the settlers came, Saw Palmetto was used by southeastern Native Americans to treat urinary problems. Some remaining records of the Maya indicate that they also used a similar concoction to treat dysentery and stomach aliments.
In the 1870's several articles on the benefits of Saw Palmetto began appearing in medical journals in the U.S. and Europe. This led to the official inclusion of the herb in the USB, The Pharmacopoeia of The United States, between the years of 1906 to 1916. Then from 1926 to 1950, it was listed in the National Formulary, the NF. Both registries credited the healthful benefits of Saw Palmetto.
Today, Saw Palmetto is primarily recognized as 'the man's herb' because of its ability to ease the discomfort of enlarged prostate glands. This common disorder is called BPH, benign prostatic hypertrophy, and Saw Palmetto is the primary form of treatment in Europe. It's use is growing in the United States as there is tremendous research that substantiates the use of this herb for treatment of BPH.
Saw Palmetto is effective in the treatment of BPH because it works two ways. It blocks the enzyme, called 5-alpha-reductase, that causes the change in the prostrate and it helps to prevent the binding of cells to DHT, dihydrotestorone, which is an active form of the male hormone testosterone.
Research indicates that up to 90% of the men that have regularly used Saw Palmetto have responded favorably. Some studies in Europe show that this herb not only reduces the discomfort and symptoms of BPH, but also reduces the actual size of the prostate gland. Most of this research was completed using a daily dosage of 320 mg of the standardized extract.
The FDA has concluded an evaluation in which the herb was compared to more common, and more costly, prescriptions for treatment of BPH. Over 90% of the men treated with Saw Palmetto reported a decrease in symptoms. Urine volume increased, residual volume decreased and nighttime urination decreased significantly. Even though Saw Palmetto was as or more effective than the prescription drugs and the FDA admitted that the statistics were significant, they concluded that the results were not 'clinically significant.' Maybe that ruling is fortunate as men still have the availability of a herbal low cost aid.
Japanese and European studies have concluded that Saw Palmetto has no contraindications. This means that it does not interact adversely with dietary supplements or prescription drugs. This research also indicates that the side effects of using this herb are rare and minimal. The only recorded consequence was a temporarily upset digestive system. This is minuscule compared to the side effects of more commonly used prescription drugs which include decreased libido, impaired sexual function and, in some cases impotence.
Most men that take Saw Palmetto feel that it has helped decrease the symptoms and will continue its use. It is important to remember not to over use or abuse any medicine, prescription or botanical. Doses should be regular, taken with meals and not exceeded. As with the use of any medicines or botanicals, your primary physician should be consulted before you begin any herbal regime.