If you’re grappling with concerns like prostate troubles or thinning hair, you might be curious if there are any natural remedies to assist.
Saw palmetto, a palm species native to the southeastern US, is a popular ingredient in supplements designed to enhance prostate health, regulate hormones, and reduce male pattern baldness.
Furthermore, it’s credited with multiple other perks like reducing inflammation and bettering urinary function.
Here’s a closer look at the potential benefits and uses of saw palmetto, along with some important precautions and side effects to consider.
1. Saw palmetto might combat hair loss
Thinning hair is a widespread issue resulting from various causes - genetics, specific health conditions, hormonal shifts, or even some medications like stimulants and anticoagulants.
Saw palmetto is frequently harnessed to regulate hormones and counteract hair loss.
Research suggests that saw palmetto can potentially inhibit the function of 5-alpha reductase - an enzyme responsible for transforming testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), another hormone implicated in hair loss.
By curbing DHT absorption in hair follicles, saw palmetto could reduce DHT’s attachment to certain hormone receptors.
A review analyzing 7 studies deduced that supplements with saw palmetto - either taken orally or applied topically - enhanced hair quality in 60% of participants, boosted overall hair numbers by 27%, and augmented hair thickness for 83% of those experiencing hair loss.
Though these findings are promising, it’s essential to note that more studies are required to cement these benefits.
Summary: Saw palmetto might act as a shield against hair loss by mitigating the impact of a particular enzyme associated with this issue.
2. Saw palmetto might enhance urinary function
Urinary issues, such as incontinence and trouble while urinating, often plague older individuals.
Saw palmetto might alleviate urinary problems stemming from benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) - a situation where the prostate gland enlarges, leading to a reduced urine flow.
In a short-term 12-week study, men who consumed daily 1,000 mg of saw palmetto oil with added beta-sitosterol, a natural plant compound, saw notable improvements in their BPH symptoms compared to those on regular saw palmetto oil.
Another study spanning 24 weeks involving 354 men found that a 320 mg intake of saw palmetto resulted in reduced BPH symptoms, better urinary flow, improved quality of life, and better sexual function than a placebo.
However, a comprehensive review analyzing 27 studies deduced that saw palmetto didn’t offer any substantial relief in urinary tract symptoms when consumed solo.
So, there’s a need for additional studies to gauge the supplement’s impact on urinary function in a broader population, including those with and without prostate challenges.
Summary: While saw palmetto might enhance urinary function, especially among those with prostate concerns, comprehensive research is still required.
3. Saw palmetto could be beneficial for prostate health
The prostate is a compact gland situated between the bladder and penis and plays a pivotal role in ensuring sperm health.
There’s some evidence indicating that saw palmetto could foster prostate health and mitigate issues like BPH and prostate cancer.
Both human and animal trials have suggested that this supplement can curtail urinary symptoms and inflammation tied to BPH.
Moreover, a study spread over 15 years with 30 participants inferred that a daily intake of 320 mg of saw palmetto extract might stave off BPH’s progression.
However, not all studies align with the notion that saw palmetto positively impacts prostate health or BPH symptoms.
Suggested read: Tribulus terrestris: Benefits, safety, and side effects
Thus, rigorous and extensive research is still necessary.
Summary: Some research suggests that saw palmetto can potentially aid in managing BPH symptoms, but overall findings remain mixed.
4. Saw palmetto might possess anti-inflammatory properties
Saw palmetto’s potential anti-inflammatory attributes have piqued the interest of many researchers.
In a study involving mice with enlarged prostates, it was observed that saw palmetto extract substantially reduced both the swelling and various inflammation markers, one notable marker being interleukin 6 (IL-6).
Another investigation on rats with BPH revealed that saw palmetto not only curtailed inflammation but also boosted the body’s antioxidant levels.
However, while these findings are encouraging, there’s a void when it comes to human-based research on this subject.
Summary: Though animal studies point towards the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of saw palmetto, solid evidence from human trials is awaited.
5. Saw palmetto’s role in testosterone regulation
Many turn to saw palmetto in hopes of naturally amplifying their testosterone levels.
Testosterone, a vital hormone, plays a role in various health domains, encompassing body composition, libido, mood, and cognitive functions. As individuals age, the levels of this hormone taper off, and some studies link low testosterone levels with health ailments like heart diseases.
Saw palmetto’s modus operandi revolves around curbing the action of 5-alpha reductase — an enzyme that morphs testosterone into DHT — thereby aiming to conserve testosterone levels.
In a laboratory-based study, it was found that saw palmetto extract mirrored the effectiveness of finasteride in preserving testosterone levels. It’s worth noting that finasteride is a prescribed drug, primarily used to address hair loss and BPH, working by inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme.
Suggested read: 11 science-based health benefits of pumpkin seeds
Per an analysis, saw palmetto could hinder DHT’s absorption and reduce its capacity to latch onto androgen receptors by almost half, potentially helping in testosterone balance.
A study spanning 14 days reported that the intake of 1,200 mg/day of Resettin — a concoction of saw palmetto and astaxanthin (an antioxidant found in certain algae) — surged serum testosterone levels by a significant 38%, when contrasted with a placebo.
Moreover, an experiment on rats demonstrated that saw palmetto not only bolstered testosterone production but also enhanced muscle stamina and sperm production by adjusting hormonal regulation.
Summary: A variety of studies, ranging from in-vitro to human and animal trials, suggest that saw palmetto could play a role in testosterone management by attenuating the enzyme that transforms testosterone into DHT.
How saw palmetto works
Saw palmetto contains active ingredients that might block an enzyme named 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme changes testosterone into DHT.
By doing this, it could help keep your testosterone levels steady as you age. This can mean better mood, libido, and physical health.
DHT also plays a role in prostate growth. So, using saw palmetto might benefit prostate health and reduce BPH (prostate enlargement).
Plus, because DHT affects hair growth and can lead to hair thinning, saw palmetto might support hair health.
Yet, not all studies agree on these benefits, making it uncertain how effective saw palmetto really is.
Summary: Saw palmetto can block an enzyme turning testosterone to DHT. This might help with testosterone levels, prostate health, and hair health.
Types and suggested amounts of saw palmetto
It’s super simple to incorporate saw palmetto into your day since it’s commonly found as a supplement.
You can find it as capsules, softgels, or tablets. Sometimes, it’s mixed with ingredients like pumpkin seed extract to boost prostate well-being.
In rarer forms, you might find it as dried, liquid extract, or as a tea powder.
A lot of studies use 320 mg of saw palmetto daily, typically split into two doses.
To avoid stomach upsets and other issues, some experts suggest taking it with meals.
Summary: Saw palmetto comes mostly as capsules, softgels, or tablets and can be consumed at 320 mg daily. There are also rarer forms like teas.
Possible reactions to saw palmetto
Generally, saw palmetto is seen as safe with minimal side effects.
Suggested read: 7 health benefits and uses of CBD oil
The usual complaints include headaches, feeling dizzy, stomach upsets, and being constipated.
But, not everyone should take it.
For instance, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should skip this supplement. Its long-term safety isn’t well-studied.
As it might impact hormones, it might not be a good fit for those on hormone treatments or specific birth controls. We need more information to be sure.
Lastly, it might not mix well with blood-thinning drugs like warfarin or Coumadin, which could raise bleeding risks.
Always check with a health expert if you have health concerns or take specific drugs before starting saw palmetto.
Summary: Some may experience mild reactions to saw palmetto. It’s not recommended for pregnant individuals, those on hormone treatments, or certain medications.
Saw palmetto is a type of palm that’s turned into a supplement full of possible health perks.
Studies indicate that saw palmetto might boost testosterone, better prostate wellness, lessen inflammation, guard against hair thinning, and improve urinary health.
Yet, the evidence isn’t always consistent. More extensive human studies are required to really grasp its impact on our health.