As men age more male hormones such as testosterone collect in the prostate and in the blood stream. This testosterone is converted by the body into a more potent form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Too much DHT in the body causes varying reactions in different individuals including male pattern baldness, excess body hair growth and cell multiplication, which eventually produces enlargement of the prostate. Left untreated, a certain percentage of cases will lead to prostate cancer.
The round, red berries of the Saw Palmetto plant are the part used medicinally. They contain a fat-soluble extract, which acts by inhibiting the natural enzyme that converts the hormone testosterone into DHT. Medical research shows that DHT plays a role in benign prostrate problems, and the Saw Palmetto helps to regulate the amount of DHT, thus helping to control or reduce the growth of an enlarged prostate.
Saw palmetto berries also have anti-inflammatory and anti-fluid retention activity. The exact chemistry of the extract that causes this is yet unknown, but it is also part of the fat-soluble group. It also showed improvements in the urinary system of users. Though it is considered an herb for male-related conditions, research that is currently underway shows that saw palmetto may also repair and strengthen the ovaries in women and help to balance hormones in women with male-pattern baldness and excess body hair growth.
A three-year study in Germany found that taking Saw Palmetto extract reduced nighttime urination in 73 percent of patients with prostate problems and improved urinary flow rates significantly. Saw palmetto extract does not interfere with accurate measuring of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a marker used by doctors to detect prostate cancer. The effectiveness of Saw Palmetto has been shown in clinical trials to last from three to six months after regular dosages have been taken for at least 30 days. Various studies showed a reduction in prostate size within 30 days of use.
Clinical trials show that 320 milligrams per day of the extract from saw palmetto berries is a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) – enlargement of the prostate. In other research saw palmetto extract proved to be as effective as the prescription medication finesteride, in decreasing the growth of enlarged prostates. Unlike some prescription medications, Saw Palmetto extract use also displayed few to no side effects.
It is important to purchase the right concentration of saw palmetto extract as well as the right form. In tincture form, the normal dosage is 15 to 30 drops twice daily, and the lipid extract is 320 milligrams daily (either at once or in divided doses). Ground-up powdered herbs have very little effect on the prostate.
This herbal remedy has been used for years in Asia and Europe, on its own, with other botanicals, and along with pharmaceutical drugs with no marked side effects. If used with pharmaceuticals, it usually assists in reducing the dosage of drugs needed.
Do not take saw palmetto without first seeing your doctor for a complete exam and diagnosis. Other conditions, including cancer of the prostate, may produce symptoms similar to those in an enlarged prostate.
Saw palmetto has reportedly been used continuously for many years without evidence of side effects. Although very rare, some allergic reactions to saw palmetto have been reported. However, because this potent herb can affect hormone levels in your body, it may cause adverse effects if you have cancer of the prostate, breast cancer, or any other sex hormone related disease or disorder.
All herbal remedies can interact negatively with other prescription and herbal medications; do not take Saw Palmettos and other herbal extracts without first discussing it with your physician. It is also important to understand that Saw Palmetto is not a cure for all prostate conditions, but it can be used to maintain prostate health in men and for relief from symptoms. Men over the age of fifty should have regular prostate examinations by their physicians.