Saw palmetto is a type of palm tree native to the southeastern United States. Its fruit has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine by Native Americans to treat a variety of health conditions.
Saw palmetto supplements are often taken to improve prostate health and reduce symptoms associated with BPH. BPH is a common condition in men where the prostate gland grows in size, causing urinary symptoms such as frequent urination, difficulty urinating, and weak urine flow. Saw palmetto is believed to work by reducing inflammation and blocking the production of certain hormones that can contribute to prostate enlargement.
Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of saw palmetto for treating BPH, and while some have found it to be beneficial, others have not. However, a large review of multiple studies found that saw palmetto was as effective as commonly prescribed medications for improving urinary symptoms associated with BPH, with fewer side effects.
In addition to its use for prostate health, saw palmetto supplements have also been studied for their potential benefits for hair loss. One theory is that saw palmetto may block an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is believed to be responsible for shrinking hair follicles and contributing to hair loss in both men and women.
While research on saw palmetto for hair loss is limited and conflicting, some studies have shown promising results. In one study, men with mild to moderate hair loss who took a saw palmetto supplement for several months experienced significant improvement in hair growth compared to those who took a placebo.
Saw palmetto may also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could contribute to its potential health benefits. Some studies have suggested that saw palmetto may help reduce inflammation in the body, which could be beneficial for conditions such as arthritis, asthma, and chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
Finally, some research has suggested that saw palmetto may help improve sexual function in men. One study found that men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction who took a saw palmetto supplement for several months experienced significant improvement in their symptoms compared to those who took a placebo.
While saw palmetto is generally considered safe, it can interact with certain medications and may not be appropriate for everyone. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking other medications.