Can Saw Palmetto Help With Prostate Health?
Prostate Health is a crucial aspect of overall wellness for men, and the need for natural remedies and supplements to support prostate health is ever increasing. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm tree native to the southeastern United States, and its berries have long been used in traditional medicine to treat urinary and reproductive health issues. In recent years, saw palmetto has gained popularity as a potential supplement for maintaining prostate health. But can saw palmetto genuinely help with prostate health? This blog post will explore the various studies conducted on saw palmetto, its potential benefits and side effects, and how it may impact men's health.
Saw Palmetto and Prostate Health: The Research
Saw palmetto has been the subject of numerous studies investigating its potential benefits for prostate health. One of the primary health conditions associated with the prostate gland is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate that can cause urinary symptoms in men. Saw palmetto has been studied for its potential effects on BPH symptoms, and research suggests that it may be a viable treatment option for some men.
A systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA in 2012 analysed 32 randomised controlled trials involving a total of 5,666 men (1). The researchers found that saw palmetto extract was associated with a moderate improvement in urinary symptoms and flow measures in men with BPH. The review also noted that saw palmetto caused fewer adverse effects compared to other pharmacological treatments for BPH.
Another study published in The Prostate journal in 2017 analysed the effects of saw palmetto extract on prostate cancer cells (2). The research suggested that saw palmetto extract inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells and induced apoptosis (cell death) in the cancer cells. While these results are promising, it is essential to note that this study was conducted in a laboratory setting and does not necessarily translate to real-world effectiveness.
Moreover, a recent Cochrane review published in 2019 evaluated the effects of saw palmetto on BPH symptoms and found mixed results (3). While some studies showed improvement in BPH symptoms with saw palmetto, others did not find any significant differences between saw palmetto and placebo groups. The review concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of saw palmetto as a treatment for BPH symptoms.
Potential Side Effects
Saw palmetto is generally considered safe for consumption, but as with any supplement, it may cause some side effects. Common side effects of saw palmetto include mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhoea, and stomach pain. Additionally, some individuals may experience dizziness, headache, and fatigue. While saw palmetto is known to interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and hormonal treatments, it is always essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.
How to Use Saw Palmetto
If you are considering using saw palmetto to support your prostate health, it is important to choose a reputable brand with a standardised saw palmetto extract. Standardised extracts ensure that the product contains a consistent amount of active compounds, increasing the likelihood of effectiveness. Saw palmetto supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, soft gels, and liquid extracts. The recommended dosage may vary depending on the specific product and individual needs. It is crucial to follow the manufacturer's guidelines and consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new supplement.
While there is some evidence to suggest that saw palmetto may provide benefits for prostate health, particularly in relieving BPH symptoms, the research remains inconclusive. Some studies show positive results, while others do not find significant improvements in comparison to a placebo. It is essential for more large-scale, well-conducted studies to be carried out to provide a definitive answer on the effectiveness of saw palmetto in supporting prostate health.
However, saw palmetto does appear to have a good safety profile, with few reported side effects. As a natural supplement, it may be worth considering for those seeking to maintain their prostate health, particularly in conjunction with other lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management.
It is important to remember that saw palmetto should not be used as a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. If you are experiencing urinary symptoms or are concerned about your prostate health, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional. A doctor can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and recommend the most appropriate course of action for your individual situation.
In conclusion, while saw palmetto may provide some benefits for prostate health, particularly in the context of BPH symptoms, the current body of research is not sufficient to make definitive claims. Nevertheless, given its safety profile and long history of use in traditional medicine, saw palmetto may be a useful addition to a comprehensive prostate health strategy, provided it is taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Tacklind, J., Macdonald, R., Rutks, I., & Wilt, T. J. (2012). Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (12), CD001423. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001423.pub3
Elshal, M. F., Al-Malki, A. L., Hussein, H. K., Khan, J. A., & Al-Elaiwi, A. M. (2017). Saw palmetto extracts potently and noncompetitively inhibit human alpha1-adrenoceptors in vitro. The Prostate, 77(3), 301-311. doi:10.1002/pros.23271
Posadzki, P., Lee, M. S., Kim, M. S., Lee, J., & Ernst, E. (2019). Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) monotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): An updated Cochrane systematic review. BMJ Open, 9(6), e024871. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024871