Saw Palmetto - What is it & How to use

What is it?

  • Saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to the southeastern United States. Its fruit was used medicinally by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
  • Currently, saw palmetto is used as a dietary supplement for urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate gland (also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), as well as for chronic pelvic pain, decreased sex drive, migraine, hair loss, and other conditions.
  • Extracts of the fruit of saw palmetto are used in tablets or capsules. Saw palmetto has also been used as ground, dried, or whole berries, a liquid extract, or a tea.
  • The scientific evidence does not support using saw palmetto for any health condition.
  • High-quality scientific studies have shown that saw palmetto is no more effective than a placebo (an inactive substance) in relieving urinary tract symptoms caused by prostate enlargement. These studies include a 2011 NIH-funded study that tested saw palmetto in amounts up to three times the usual dose.

Safety Concerns

  • Saw palmetto is well tolerated by most users. It may cause mild side effects, including digestive symptoms or headache.
  • Saw palmetto does not appear to affect readings of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, even when taken in higher-than-usual amounts. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. PSA levels have been used to screen for prostate cancer and are also used to monitor patients who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
  • Saw palmetto has not been shown to interact with medications.
  • Information on the safety of saw palmetto comes primarily from studies in men. Little is known about the safety or side effects of saw palmetto in women or children.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.