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Saw Palmetto

Botanical name(s):

Sabal, Sabal serrulata, Serenoa repens

Common names:

Saw palmetto, shrub palmetto, dwarf palm

General description

The saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to the southeastern U.S. It grows 4 to 10 feet tall. This depends on the region. The medicinal part is the ripe, dried berry. It’s also called Sabal fructus. Both the berries and seeds of the saw palmetto plant are used.

Saw palmetto may reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. It’s often used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).

Medically valid uses

There are many studies looking at the effects of saw palmetto on treating symptoms of BPH. But the results are inconsistent and contradictory. Current scientific studies don't support the use of saw palmetto for any health condition.

Unsubstantiated claims

There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.

Saw palmetto is said to stimulate the appetite. It may also tone and strengthen the male reproductive system. It’s also claimed to reduce prostate inflammation. There are claims that saw palmetto extracts may enhance sexual desire and function, especially for older adults.

Dosing format

Saw palmetto berry extracts come in tablet, extract, tea, and capsule forms.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Talk to your healthcare provider before starting herbal therapy.

The saw palmetto berries and extract are considered safe. There are few side effects. In rare cases, they may cause mild headaches and stomach problems.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare providers before taking any herbs.

There are no known food or medicine interactions with saw palmetto.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2021
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