Saw Palmetto–Serenoa repens

Saw palmetto is an alterative herb, meaning that when it is used for treatment it will gradually restore bodily function and restore health and vitality. It is a member of the palmacea or palm family and is a low growing shrub. It grows abundantly in the southern United States.

Historically saw palmetto was used as a food staple by the Seminole Indians and was dried and used year-round for food. Saw palmetto was also used by the Mayans as a tonic herb for respiratory conditions, as well as for genitourinary conditions, impotence, low libido, infertility, and menstrual complaints. It is still commonly used to treat these same conditions.

Saw palmetto is used commonly in Europe and in the U.S. as a treatment for reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) as well as a pre transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) treatment. Research has shown that taking saw palmetto at least eight weeks prior to TURP decreases duration of surgery and post surgery complications. Research has also shown it to be possibly effective in regeneration of hair growth in hair loss due to increased testosterone in men.

In women, saw palmetto has been shown to be effective in increasing libido, infertility, menstrual irregularities, hirsutism, and as a vaginal and uterine tonic. Historically it was used to increase lactation, however there is no current evidence including the its safety or effectiveness when used in this manner.

Saw palmetto can be found in dried or whole berry form or as an alcohol tincture extract. Recommended dosage for adults is 1-2 grams of ground or whole berries daily, 2-4 mL of tincture extract three times daily, or 4 oz. of tea (2 tsp. of dried berry in 24 oz. water simmered until liquid is reduced by half) three times daily.

Saw palmetto should not be taken with birth control pills or estrogen. It should not be taken during pregnancy as it is considered an anti-estrogenic herb. It is also recommended to use caution with any anti-coagulant medications or with known bleeding disorders due to ineffective coagulation. Adverse reactions may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.

It is always important and recommended to consult your healthcare provider before introducing any new treatment. Visit your primary care provider or for a list of healthcare providers in your area click on the Women in Balance Health Care Provider Tool.

Written By Michelle Williams, NCNM Naturopathic Medical Program. Edited by Dr. Elise Schroeder

References: 

Oleander Moth. Photography. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 31 May 2015. http://quest.eb.com/search/149_2060731/1/149_2060731/cite

“Saw Palmetto.” Natural Medicines. N.p., 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 31 May 2015.

Tilgner, Sharol Marie, ND. “Saw Palmetto- Serenoa Repens.” Natural Medicine from the Heart of the Earth. 2nd ed. Pleasant Hill: Wise Acres LLC, 2009. 149. Print.