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Saw Palmetto for Enlarged Prostate


Updated July 17, 2007

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, Sabal serrulata) is an herb that is particularly popular in Europe for the treatment of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy). Saw palmetto has a long history of use in the Americas by the Mayans (as a tonic) and the Seminoles (as an expectorant and antiseptic).

The Evidence

There has been a number of scientific trials of saw palmetto for treating an enlarged prostate. Findings show that using saw palmetto relieves many of the symptoms of enlarged prostate including nighttime urination, frequent urination and overall quality of life.

Saw palmetto has also been proposed to treat other health problems. The evidence for these treatments is not as good. These treatments include male-pattern baldness and hair loss and underactive bladder. The limited studies available are inconclusive about these two applications of saw palmetto.

The herb has also been proposed to treat prostatitis though this evidence suggests that saw palmetto does not work for this condition.


In studies, 320 milligrams daily (in one or two doses) is most common. Supplements may appear in various forms including dried or whole berries, pulp or tea. Dosages and quality can vary greatly and are not regulated by the FDA.

Side Effects

Few serious side effects have been noted with saw palmetto. The most common side effects involve indigestion-related problems like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and pain. Saw palmetto may lessen the effects of testosterone. Some men have reported problems with erections, pain in the testes, and changes in libido. Anyone on hormone medication or with liver, stomach or other problems should talk to their doctor before taking saw palmetto. Pregnant women should not take saw palmetto.

Saw palmetto is a popular anti-aging supplement found in many men’s vitamin/herb formulas. Other popular anti-aging supplements include DHEA, selenium, HGH (human growth hormone), yohimbe and testosterone.


Medline Plus. Drug Information. Saw Palmetto.

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