by John McKiernan
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a palm plant that has been used by native Americans and other cultures for centuries to treat various urinary and reproductive issues. The active ingredients come from the fruit of the plant’s brown-black colored berries.
As effective as Proscar at treating BHP
A large percentage of men over the age of 40 and nine out of ten men over 60 have less than perfect prostate health. Most common is a condition known as BHP or benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is the medical term for an enlarged prostate. Although the condition is not cancerous, it can cause trouble urinating because the enlarged prostate presses on the urethra. Saw palmetto is the number one herbal treatment for reversing BHP.
Numerous clinical trials have been conducted in Europe comparing saw palmetto to the most prescribed drug for BHP, Proscar. A critique of 24 of these European trials was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November of 1998. Almost 3,000 men in total participated, using either saw palmetto, Proscar or a placebo.
The journal found that groups consuming the saw palmetto had a 28 percent improvement in urinary tract symptoms, a 24 percent improvement in peak urine flow and 43 percent improvement in general urine flow. The outcomes were similar to the groups taking Proscar and superior to the placebo groups. Other sources have come to the same conclusions regarding saw palmetto and Proscar. Dr. Allen E. Shaughnessy and Dr. Andrea E. Gordon analyzed 21 prior clinical studies in a March 2003 issue of American Family Physician. They concluded that saw palmetto was as effective as Proscar at treating enlarged prostates. In addition, they commented on the fact that the plant-based remedy is less expensive than its pharmaceutical counterpart.
Scientists aren’t sure precisely how Saw Palmetto improves BHP, but they suspect that its active substances may inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is a fundamental component involved in the onset and advancement of BHP.
While Saw Palmetto can be very effective in treating BHP and improving prostate health in general, there are other nutrients to consider. Each of these essential vitamins and minerals can improve prostate health and help prevent prostate cancer:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K2
- Vitamin E
Saw Palmetto may also be effective in increasing testosterone levels, improving sexual energy and promoting hair growth. Its effectiveness in inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase may also be responsible for its usefulness in preventing baldness, a form of hair loss called androgenic alopecia. Saw Palmetto may also aid in muscle growth as it contains fatty acids that aid protein in building and strengthening muscle tissues. Its active ingredients include fatty acids, plant sterols, and flavonoids, all of which are chemicals that are effective in preventing cancer, reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system. This versatile herb has also been shown to be effective in treating sore throat, asthma, colds, coughs, irritated mucous membranes, chronic bronchitis and migraines and can be used as an antiseptic and an expectorant.
Side effects Saw Palmetto extract is considered very safe and related to very few side effects or allergic reactions. Gastrointestinal side effects are among the most common; however, they may be reduced by ingesting the supplement along with food.
Tips for buying Saw Palmetto
Many herbal supplements contain no active ingredients at all, which is why it’s always important to purchase reputable brands. Also, be sure that the manufacturer uses the super critical carbon dioxide method to extract the active ingredients out of the berries. Other more harsh methods may diminish these beneficial substances.
Sources for this article include: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herbsaw-palmetto.html.