Saw Palmetto, the Prostate Herb

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens, Serenoa serrulata) is derived from the berries of the saw palm tree which bears a fern like appearance. It is native and will grow naturally only in Florida, but is sold around the world. Native Americans used this herb as food and as a medicine. Although, knowing its pungent taste, I am sure it made a better medicine than it did a food source.

In 1908, saw palmetto was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as a urinary tract medicine. Even when it wasn’t seeing much popularity in the U.S. it was finding mass appeal in Europe. Europe, being known for more homeopathic means of treatment, was much more open for the options of saw palmetto than in the U.S. This is abundant in that the United States exports about 15 million pounds of saw palm fruit to Europe every year.

Saw Palmetto is known as “the prostate herb” although in the treatment of IC, some women are finding relief as well. In women it is primarily used as a urinary antiseptic. For men, its claim is to shrink the prostate and to reduce symptoms associated with Prostatitis and Pelvic Pain Syndrome. According to the American Urologic Association and the Pelvic Floor Institute, while conducting a placebo controlled study where 142 men enrolled, the men reported good improvement in symptoms at the 12 and 18 month marker. If you take Saw Palmetto make sure to tell your primary care physician because it can alter the results of a PSA test which will make a diagnosis of prostate cancer more difficult to obtain.

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