What is saw palmetto?
Saw palmetto comes from a palm-like plant that grows in the southeast United States. The berries of this plant are used to make the capsule form of saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is also known as American Dwarf Palm Tree, Baies du Palmier Scie, Cabbage Palm, Chou Palmiste, Ju-Zhong, Palma Enana Americana, Palmier Nain, Palmier Scie, Sabal, Serenoa, and other names.
Saw palmetto blocks certain effects of certain hormones in the body and also has some anti-inflammatory actions.
Saw palmetto has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in preventing complications from prostate surgery (such as blood loss or problems during surgery) and reducing the time spent in surgery and in the hospital after surgery.
How much saw palmetto is too much
When taken by mouth: Saw palmetto is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to 3 years. Side effects are usually mild and may include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.
There is some concern that saw palmetto might cause liver or pancreas problems in some people. There have been two reports of liver damage and one report of pancreas damage in people who took saw palmetto. However, there is not enough information to know if saw palmetto was the actual cause of these side effects.
When given rectally: Saw palmetto is POSSIBLY SAFE when administered into the rectum appropriately for up to 30 days. It is unknown if it is safe to use for longer periods of time.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Saw palmetto is LIKELY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It acts like a hormone, and this could be dangerous to the pregnancy. Don't use during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
Surgery: Saw palmetto might slow blood clotting. There is some concern that it might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using saw palmetto at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Saw palmetto has been used to treat symptoms of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH), such as increased night-time urination or decreased urinary flow. However, research has shown that saw palmetto may not be effective in treating this condition.
Other uses not proven with research have included treating sore throat, cough, cold symptoms, asthma, bronchitis, migraine headache, male-pattern baldness, chronic pelvic pain and prostate swelling, bladder problems, prostate cancer, and other conditions.
It is not certain whether saw palmetto is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Saw palmetto should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.
Saw palmetto is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.
Saw palmetto may also be used for other purposes not listed in this product guide.
What should I discuss with my health care provider before taking saw palmetto?
Before using saw palmetto, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use saw palmetto if you have certain medical conditions., such as:
a bleeding or blood clotting disorder (such as hemophilia);
liver disease; or
a pancreas disorder.
Saw palmetto is a hormone and is not likely to be safe to use during pregnancy. Do not use saw palmetto if you are pregnant.
Saw palmetto can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using non hormonal birth control (condom, diaphragm with spermicide) to prevent pregnancy.
Saw palmetto may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.
How should I take saw palmetto?(saw palmetto overdose)
When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.
If you choose to use saw palmetto, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.
Saw palmetto may be taken with food if it upsets your stomach.
Do not use different forms (capsules, tablets, tinctures, topical forms, etc) of saw palmetto at the same time without medical advice. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.
Saw palmetto can affect blood-clotting and may increase your risk of bleeding. If you need surgery, dental work, or a medical procedure, stop taking saw palmetto at least 2 weeks ahead of time.
Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with saw palmetto does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Though raw and dried saw palmetto berries have been eaten for centuries, their safety hasn’t been directly studied.
That said, studies suggest that saw palmetto supplements are generally safe for most people. The most common side effects include diarrhea, headache, fatigue, decreased libido, nausea, vomiting, and vertigo. Yet, they tend to be mild and reversible (21).
More serious side effects like liver damage, pancreatitis, bleeding in the brain, and death have been reported in isolated cases. However, it isn’t always clear whether saw palmetto was the cause (21, 25, 26, 27).
Two case studies further report that young girls experienced hot flashes when given saw palmetto supplements to treat hair loss or hirsutism — a condition causing unwanted male-pattern hair growth in women (28, 29).
Moreover, there is some concern that saw palmetto may be linked to birth defects and may prevent the normal development of male genitalia (1).
Therefore, use is strongly discouraged in children, as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women.
What’s more, a review of labels and internet marketing materials cautions people with prostate disorders or hormone-dependent cancers to consult their healthcare provider before taking this supplement (1).
They also warn that saw palmetto may interact with other medications, though additional reviews found no evidence of this
Potentially effective dosages
Saw palmetto can be taken in many forms.
Little research exists on effective dosages when the saw palmetto berries are eaten whole or steeped to make a tea.
When taken as a dried supplement or an oily liquid extraction, saw palmetto appears most effective in daily dosages of 160–320 mg (12, 13, 16, 17).
That said, most studies have been done exclusively in men, so it’s unclear whether the same dosages are appropriate for women (1).
Always consult your healthcare provider before taking saw palmetto to ensure your safety and appropriate dosage.