You’ve probably been perusing the shelves of your local natural foods grocer and noticed a supplement called saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is a plant native to palm trees that can be found in the southeastern United States, aka Florida. Historically, its fruit has been used to treat a variety of ailments, such as treating urinary tract infections and reproductive disorders. We’ll discuss the current therapeutic benefits of saw palmetto, how it works, and whether it’s really worth it.
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a shrubby palm tree native to the southeastern United States. These berries were a staple in the diet of Native Americans, who used them to treat urinary tract infections and even increase sperm production and boost libido. Today, the therapeutic use of saw palmetto is primarily for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
But what does research show about the benefits of saw palmetto?
Numerous studies have investigated the effects of saw palmetto on benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a common cause of bothersome lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in men.
In a 2002 meta-analysis of 21 trials evaluating the effect of saw palmetto on UTI symptoms, a significant reduction in nocturia, an increase in self-evaluation improvement, and an improvement in peak urine flow (R).
However, more recent data have yielded less positive results and replication of previous studies. An updated review including nine trials concluded that there was no significant effect on the American Urological Association Symptom Index (AUASI) score or peak urine flow (R).
The largest trial conducted was the Saw Palmetto for Enlarged Prostate (STEP) study. 275 men aged 50 years or older with a baseline AUASI score of 8 or higher were randomly assigned to a center and given saw palmetto extract (160 mg twice daily) or placebo. No improvement over placebo was found in symptom scores or any of the secondary endpoints over one year.
Following the publication of the STEP study, a large, multicentre, double-blind randomized controlled trial, It doesn’t get any better than this in research designaimed to determine whether doubling the standard daily dose of saw palmetto extract and then tripling the daily dose over 72 weeks would improve BPH-induced LUTS.
A total of 369 men were randomized, ranging from 19 to 52 men per site, with a mean age of 61 years. Participants took one, two and three doses (320 mg/d) of saw palmetto extract or placebo, with doses increasing at 24 and 48 weeks.
Despite earlier research, this study found that increasing doses of saw palmetto fruit extract did not reduce lower urinary tract symptoms more than a placebo.
Reflecting these same results, two large, high-quality studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), each using a different preparation of saw palmetto, found that it was no better for BPH symptoms than placebo (an inactive substance )More effective(R).
But then, a meta-analysis evaluating four randomized, double-blind, controlled trials involving 1,080 BPH patients reported that saw palmetto brown brown Taking it daily for 6 months seems to improve urine flow, similar to the effect of Flomax (tamsulosin) (though no improvement in prostate size – unlike the case with tamsulosin)
Research suggests that using saw palmetto may help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and mixed urinary tract infections.
Some research suggests that saw palmetto may benefit hair loss and reduce signs of hair loss by inhibiting an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.
Saw Palmetto is rich in fatty acids as well as phytosterols and flavonoids that block the effects of androgens. Research suggests that saw palmetto may help block 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (a more potent form of testosterone).
Finasteride (Proscar), a drug for hair loss, uses the same mechanism. Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that causes male pattern hair loss.
In the 2012 study, 100 male participants with mild to moderate androgenic alopecia (AGA) received 320 mg of saw palmetto and an additional 1 mg of finasteride over 24 months. The results showed that only 38% of patients treated with saw palmetto experienced an increase in hair growth, compared with 68% of patients treated with finasteride (R).
Therefore, these two treatments do improve and affect hair loss and can be used in combination. However, more evidence is needed to support the therapeutic use of saw palmetto for specific indications of hair loss (R).
New evidence has emerged examining the effects of saw palmetto on patients with chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for more than six months, so CPPS is concentrated pain in the pelvic region that is severe enough to limit function. According to the NIH, chronic pelvic pain is often associated with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), but is defined as a syndrome without infection.
In a multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 221 CPPS patients were included.Patient adheres to regimen of 160mg SVeratrum 160 Oral administration of milligram (mg) softgels twice daily for 12 weeks showed significant improvement in pain relief and urinary symptoms compared with placebo. However, the study’s methodology was flawed because it did not distinguish between patients with and without CPPS.
Other studies of saw calibers have shown mixed results. More evidence is needed to further determine the use of saw palmetto in CPPS.
Although research suggests that saw palmetto may be effective in treating specific conditions, such as BPH, UTI, CPPS, and hair loss, more research is needed to further determine the therapeutic benefits and use in treating these conditions.
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