If you are a regular user and fan of herbal medicines, chances are you have heard about saw palmetto; if you have not tried alternative medicines at all, it’s time to know more about saw palmetto and, specifically, saw palmetto powder.
Herbalists give high regard to this herb, as it has been used by aboriginal medicine men in America for about 200 years already. H. W. Felter, a known eclectic medicine practitioner described it this way, “Saw palmetto is a nerve sedative, expectorant, and a nutritive tonic, acting kindly upon the digestive tract…Its most direct action appears to be upon the reproductive organs when undergoing waste of tissue….” (“Eclectic medicine” refers to a kind of medicine in America that relied on mostly botanical cures and treatments along with physical therapy. It was especially popular towards the end of the 19th Century and the start of the 20th.)
When pertaining to saw palmetto as a medicinal herb, one is actually talking about the saw palmetto fruit or berry, which is the only edible and medicinal part of the palm tree. The palm tree, which is commonly known as American dwarf palm tree, fan palm, and scrub palm, naturally grows in southeastern United States, more notably in sunny Florida. Although it is an American plant, it is more popular and widely accepted as a cure in Europe. Most of the studies on its medicinal efficacy have been conducted in the United Kingdom.
One such research involved 3,000 men aged 40 to 88 and who were suffering from BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy, which simply means enlarged prostate. According to this study, saw palmetto extract could effectively ease BPH symptoms, which include painful urination, dribbling after urination, and an uncontrollable urge to urinate, among others. The condition is painful, embarrassing and very uncomfortable, often making the sufferer lose sleep.
In a few studies conducted by Dr. Harvey Simon from Harvard Medical School in Boston, taking saw palmetto significantly cut down instances of sufferers needing to urinate at nights, as well as other symptoms. Dr. Simon is the editor of Harvard Men’s Health Watch. Based on his studies conducted on animals, he observed that saw palmetto inhibits a certain enzyme from converting testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is believed to cause the prostate to swell. In other words, saw palmetto does what prescription medicines are also supposed to do: inhibit the production of DHT.
(The most common prescription drugs for BPH are finasteride or Proscar and dutasteride or Avodart.)
Simon also determined that saw palmetto is more potent than other herbs that are supposed to ease BPH symptoms.
If you are suffering from BPH or know a friend or relative, recommend to try saw palmetto powder. It is cheap, widely available and is known to have only very minor side effects, such as headache, lightheartedness, constipation, diarrhea, stomach upset and breast enlargement (which is not so bad for most women). The powdered berries are sold as pill, capsule or tablet. According to Drugs.com, the herb is more popularly commercialized as dry powder extract with 25% fatty acids.