Saw Palmetto is one of the most well-known and used dietary supplements.
Traditionally, it was used to cure bladder problems, increase sperm fertility and enhance libido. Today it is widely used to treat bladder symptoms due to swollen prostate, chronic pelvic pain, decreased sex drive, hair loss, and other conditions.
What is Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto or otherwise known as Serenoa repens or Serenoa serrulata is a small palm tree that grows primarily in South-East America. The height of the plant can reach up to 3 meters and grows in warm climates. Saw Palmetto supplements contain extract which derives from the berries of plant.
Its action is due to several active ingredients contained in the fruit, like fatty acids in the form of triglycerides, phytosterols, polysaccharides, carotenoids, vitamin E and flavonoids.
Properties and action
The main mechanism of action is due to the ability of fatty acids to inhibit the action of an enzyme called 5α-reductase. 5α-reductase is an enzyme responsible for the conversion of testosterone to its androgenic form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Increased levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) cause a number of side effects such as hair loss, swelling of the prostate gland, etc. Saw palmetto supplements inhibit the action of the above enzyme, thereby reducing the unwanted effects of DHT.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is characterized by the enlargement of prostate gland (BPH). It is a quite common condition in men over 45 years and has various urinary tract symptoms, such as frequent urination, delayed onset or painful urination. The reason for the above symptoms is due to the fact that the urethra passes through the prostate gland in males, as a result, when the prostate swells, there are also problems with the urinary system.
Although many studies have failed to ascertain whether Sao Palmetto can help treat BPH, there are many data indicating that its intake contributes without unpleasant side effects to reducing and relieving symptoms. The favorable effect is due to the decrease in prostate’s gland size due to inhibition of the 5α-reductase and polyphenols, which have a protective effect on the urinary system. Symptoms that seem to go dimish with supplementation of saw palmeto are:
- Frequent urination and nocturnal enuresis
- Improving of the onset of urination and bladder emptying
- Reduced pain
- Normal urine flow
Saw palmetto and hair loss
Saw Palmetto has been found to help treat inherited androgenetic alopecia, especially in men, and to reduce hair loss. The hair follicles are particularly sensitive to DHT levels. Normally, the action of DHT leads hair follicles to shrink and to a shorter lifecycle and thus hair loss. Taking Saw Palmetto helps maintain testosterone balance, preventing its convertion to DHT, thus reducing hair loss.
Saw palmetto and prostate cancer
PSA (prostate-specific antigen) is a protein produced by prostate gland. Its clinical value lies in the fact that it is used to detect prostate cancer and the course of the disease. Although initially there was a belief that saw palmetto may reduce PSA levels, meta-analysis of studies showed that supplementation does not significantly affect antigen’s levels and thus it does not appear to be a therapeutic option for treating or preventing cancer of prostate.
Safety and dosage
Common dosage is 160-320mg per day. Because it is a fat soluble molecule, it should be taken along with meal. Its effect is evident after 8 weeks of continuous use.
Forms of Saw palmetto
The extract of Saw Palmetto can be found in tablets, capsules, liquid extract or tea. Higher activity and absorbability exists when taken in capsules or tablets.
Contraindications – negative interactions
Saw Palmetto contains tannic acids, which have the property of complexing with iron molecules and reducing its bioavailability. People with a history of anemia should be very careful when taking saw palmetto supplements.
Taking Saw Palmetto can reduce the number of estrogen and androgen receptors and therefore exert hormonal activity. Based on the above action, it is contraindicated for people with a history of prostate cancer or hormone-dependent cancers in general, or those taking birth control pills, as their potency may be reduced.
It is a particularly safe dietary supplement, however in some cases, gastrointestinal disturbances and migraines have been reported. Supplementation is contraindicated in children, pregnant or breast-feeding women, and people taking anticoagulants as taking saw palmetto may affect blood clotting.
In Vita4you you can find a great variety of dietary supplements with Saw Palmetto.