(Natural News) A berry native to the South, the saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is widely regarded for its health and nutritional benefits. In fact, recent studies have shown that men especially can benefit from the plant, given its ability to treat problems “down there.”
Indeed, multiple studies have shown how saw palmetto can potentially address genitourinary disorders, that is, those that affect the urinary and reproductive systems. A recent study from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia noted that extracts from saw palmetto can improve the quality of life of those with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as prostate gland enlargement. Men with BPH often feel the frequent need to urinate, even at night (nocturia). However, when they do, they often have difficulty starting to urinate, have a weak urine stream (or a stream that stops and starts) or are unable to completely empty their bladder. In addition, they feel pain after urination or even ejaculation.
BPH is a common problem for men over the age of 50, affecting around 50 percent of those between 51 – 60 years and up to 90 percent of men older than 80. In a 2010 estimate, as many as 14 million Americans had lower urinary tract symptoms, which can potentially indicate BPH.
For the study, a total of 84 participants with BPH were asked to take one capsule of saw palmetto extract every day for six months. Upon entering the study, they were examined and asked to fill in questionnaires for prostate health and quality of life, as well as for libido and erectile dysfunction. After the trial, participants reported significant improvements, both in terms of symptoms for BPH and libido. (Related: Saw palmetto can treat hair loss, enlarged prostates and urinary tract infections.)
Efficacy of saw palmetto confirmed by multiple studies
The findings revealed by the University of Ljubljana are similar to those published in earlier studies. For instance, a 1998 review in JAMA by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that while existing literature on whether saw palmetto can treat BPH was limited, there is promising evidence of its therapeutic ability. From examining over 18 randomized controlled trials involving a total of nearly 3,000 men, they found that saw palmetto worked as well as finasteride (a popular drug for BPH), without the adverse effects. To note, finasteride carries adverse effects, chief of which are impotence and decreased libido.
In another study, researchers from India looked at the effects of saw palmetto oil enriched with the plant compound B-sitosterol and found that it had better efficacy than finasteride. To arrive at their conclusion, the team used a BPH rat model, treating it with either finasteride or enriched saw palmetto for 28 days. Afterward, the team took prostate tissue samples from the rats and found that those treated with saw palmetto had fewer biomarkers for inflammation and apoptosis, as well as decreased prostate weight to bodyweight ratio.
“The present study for the first time demonstrates the enhancing efficacy of saw palmetto oil attributable to its higher B-sitosterol content,” they wrote in their report. “Further clinical interventions pertaining to the safety and efficacy will clearly define the therapeutic potential of [enriched saw palmetto oil] in the treatment of BPH.”
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, saw palmetto’s ability to inhibit prostate growth lies in chemicals that regulate testosterone levels and reduce the enzyme that promotes cell growth in the prostate. In addition, animal studies have shown that beyond BPH, saw palmetto can even benefit those with tumor growth in the prostate, with those consuming berry reporting faster healing times and lower bleeding risk after surgery.
For the men looking to start taking saw palmetto supplements, they should consult with a healthcare professional before taking them. To note, saw palmetto can interact with prescription drugs and blood thinners.