Can Saw Palmetto help prostate health?
9 October 2020 | Editor
Can saw palmetto could help prostate health?
If you’re always getting up to pee in the night, you could have an enlarged prostate. But help could be at hand with a traditional herbal remedy: saw palmetto.
Getting up to pee in the night is a perfectly normal – if annoying – sign of ageing.
Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is very common – nearly all men will experience some symptoms by the time they hit their 70s. BPH is not linked to prostate cancer, but the symptoms – which include more frequent trips to the loo and difficulty urinating – can be uncomfortable. Could saw palmetto, an age-old natural remedy, help?
What is saw palmetto?
Saw palmetto is a palm-like plant that grows in the south east of America. It has serrated, saw-like leaves and produces yellow berries, which turn black when they’re dried.
Originally used by Native Americans, saw palmetto is a traditional herbal remedy used to relieve the symptoms of urinary tract conditions in men with an enlarged prostate (BPH). It is still used as a front-line therapy for BPH in Germany today.
How can saw palmetto benefit prostate health?
Saw palmetto contains a special blend of phytochemicals (plant nutrients) that evidence suggests could help shrink an enlarged prostate and/or ease the urinary symptoms it causes.
One of these is beta-sitosterol. This blocks an enzyme that helps convert testosterone to dihydrotestosterone – DHT is thought to stimulate prostate growth.
What does the medical research into saw palmetto show?
There is a divergence if medical opinion as to whether saw palmetto can help; some trials show that it does not help for some people. But several studies have found that saw palmetto can help relieve symptoms of BPH in some men. Results from an international clinical trial of more than 1,000 patients with BPH, published in the journal Prostate in 1996, found that taking 320mg of saw palmetto a day for six months relieved symptoms in two-thirds of those involved in the study.
Other research suggests that saw palmetto may reduce an enlarged prostate, especially when used alongside other natural remedies. In 2013, Italian researchers from the University of Messina discovered that saw palmetto could help to manage prostate growth, particularly when combined with selenium
. many of our saw palmetto products do contain selenium and lycopene as well as saw palmetto extract.
There appear to be no serious side effects from trying saw palmetto, so while some doctors do not promote its use, many say it is "worth a try".
You might also want to try other, lifestyle steps to help you feel more comfortable.
Lifestyle management steps
Herbs are not the only alternative to prescription meds. Lifestyle accommodations and a medication side-effect check can significantly relieve lower-urinary bother in some men. Studies suggest these steps can help:
- Reduce your intake of fluids, particularly after dinner.
- Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine, and avoid them after mid-afternoon; both are diuretics that increase urine flow.
- Avoid medications that stimulate muscles in the bladder neck and prostate. Pseudoephedrine and other decongestants are the chief culprits.
- Avoid medications with anticholinergic properties that weaken bladder contractions. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine are the most common offenders. Various antidepressants and antispasmodics have similar properties.
- If you are taking diuretics for high blood pressure or heart problems, ask your doctor to try to reduce the dose or substitute another medication that will work as well without increasing urine flow.