What is saw palmetto?

saw palmetto (sawtooth brown or sawtooth flower) is a plant belonging to the palm family and used in herbal medicine. Practitioners of naturopathic and alternative medicine believe that saw palmetto can treat a variety of ailments. Chief among them is an enlarged prostate gland, although saw palmetto can sometimes treat infections, stress, and even hair loss.

This article looks at some of the conditions that saw palmetto is said to treat and the research behind those claims. It also provides tips on how to use saw palmetto safely, as well as possible risks and side effects of this popular herbal supplement.

What is saw palmetto good for?

In alternative medicine, saw palmetto is said to help treat conditions such as asthma, colds, coughs, hair loss, migraines, chronic pelvic pain, and sore throats. Saw palmetto is also thought to increase libido (libido) as well as relieve stress.

Saw palmetto may be best known for its use in treating prostate problems.This includes benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) and prostatitis (prostatitis),

Scientific research provides limited evidence to support these claims.

enlarged prostate

One of the most common uses of saw palmetto is in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate. BPH is not considered a serious health problem, but it can cause noticeable symptoms, such as an increased need to urinate and urine leakage. It may also increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

Several small studies suggest that saw palmetto can benefit people with BPH.However, published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews It was concluded in 2012 that there is little evidence that palm can relieve prostate inflammation or reduce BPH symptoms.

Cochrane researchers analysed 32 previously published studies involving 5,666 participants. They determined that saw palmetto neither improved urine flow nor prostate size in men with BPH-related urinary symptoms.

Not all researchers came to the same conclusion. 2020 Comments Posted in American Journal of Men’s Healthwhich evaluated four studies involving 1,080 BPH patients, reported that taking saw palmetto daily for six months appeared to improve urine flow (although there was no actual change in prostate size).

Despite the positive findings, the researchers noted that saw palmetto supplements were not as effective as Flomax (tamsulosin), a drug commonly used to treat BPH.

hair loss

Laboratory studies have shown that saw palmetto blocks the action of 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into the hormone. DHT. DHT appears to play a role in development Androgenetic alopeciaa condition commonly referred to as male pattern baldness.

Although current research is limited, there is some evidence that it may help treat this specific form of hair loss.

published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine In 2002, a group of men with mild to moderate male pattern baldness were taking saw palmetto and a drug called beta-sitosterol. The study attributes the results to the inhibition of 5-alpha reductase by saw palmetto.

2020 Research Review skin and adnexal disorders came to similar conclusions, but pointed out that a lack of quality research limited the conclusions.

chronic pelvic pain

Emerging research suggests that saw palmetto may benefit people with chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). CPPS is defined as pain between the belly button and the buttocks lasting six months or longer, usually without a known cause.

A small study published in International Urology In 2010 it was reported that saw palmetto relieved symptoms of CPPS when combined with a proprietary supplement containing selenium and lycopene. It is unclear which supplement is responsible for this effect and further research is needed.


Saw palmetto is said to treat a variety of unrelated conditions, including an enlarged prostate gland, male pattern baldness, and chronic pelvic pain. Evidence to support these claims is often lacking.

possible side effects

  • Saw palmetto is generally well tolerated, but may cause side effects in some people, especially if overused.

These include:

  • bad breath
  • constipate
  • diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • upset stomach

Saw palmetto could theoretically affect sex hormone levels, including estrogen and testosterone. Therefore, people with hormone-sensitive cancers, including breast and prostate cancer, should consult their oncologist before using saw palmetto.

Some men also reported erectile dysfunction, breast tenderness, Gynecomastia (breast enlargement) and decreased libido (libido) when taking saw palmetto.

People taking blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel) should avoid using saw palmetto because it may increase the risk of bleeding. For the same reason, saw palmetto should be stopped for at least two weeks before and after surgery.

Due to a lack of safety research, saw palmetto should not be used by children and pregnant women.


Saw palmetto can cause headache, fatigue, dizziness, upset stomach, nausea, or constipation in some people. It should not be used in children, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or people with hormone-sensitive cancers. You should also avoid them if you take blood thinners.

Dosage and Preparation

There is no recommended dose of saw palmetto. In studies evaluating the benefits of saw palmetto in men undergoing prostate surgery, 320 mg daily for two months was well tolerated with no apparent side effects.

The appropriate dose of saw palmetto may vary based on your age, sex, and medical history. Consult your healthcare provider before using supplements for medical reasons, as they may do more harm than good in some cases.

As a general rule, never take more than the recommended dose on the product label.


There is no recommended dose of saw palmetto. Consult your doctor before using saw palmetto for medical reasons.

what to look for

Saw palmetto supplements often contain extracts from the plant’s fruit. You can buy saw palmetto supplements online or at many natural food stores, pharmacies, and herbal product specialty stores.

Because nutritional supplements are not strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), quality can vary by brand.

If you choose to buy this supplement or any supplement, the NIH recommends that you read the Supplement Facts label. It contains valuable information every consumer should know, including the amount of active and inactive ingredients per serving (including fillers and binders you may be allergic to).

Choose supplements certified by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab or NSF International. Certification does not guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but it does guarantee that the product is correctly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the product label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.


Because the quality of supplements can vary from brand to brand, choose those that have been evaluated by a certification body such as the US Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or ConsumerLab. Certification provides a guarantee of supplement purity.


Saw palmetto is a plant that belongs to the palm tree family and is used in herbal medicine. It is thought to prevent or treat many unrelated health conditions, including prostate problems, male pattern baldness, chronic pelvic pain, asthma, colds and fatigue. The scientific evidence to support these claims is often weak.

Saw palmetto supplements are generally well tolerated, but may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, constipation, or stomach upset in some people. Saw palmetto should not be used in children, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or those with hormone-sensitive cancers. You should also avoid them if you take blood thinners.

There is no recommended dosage for saw palmetto. Consult your doctor before using any supplement for medical reasons.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the side effects of saw palmetto?

    Common side effects of saw palmetto include bad breath, upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. In rare cases, saw palmetto is known to cause erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and abnormally enlarged breasts in men.

  • Can women take saw palmetto?

    While saw palmetto is traditionally used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men, it is safe for women to take. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take saw palmetto.

  • Does Saw Palmetto Affect Hormones?

    Research suggests that saw palmetto may affect sex hormones in both men and women, including androgens, estrogen, and testosterone. However, it is unclear whether saw palmetto has measurable effects on human hormone levels.