Saw Palmetto, the plant for prostate health
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens (W.Bartram) Small) is a wild plant that is native to the south-eastern United States, and is the national tree of Florida and South Carolina. It also originates from Cuba and the Bahamas in the Caribbean. It is one of the 15 species of the Arecaceae family.
It is a very familiar plant that we are used to seeing in gardens, walkways or residential areas, where its eye-catching leaves make it an ornamental feature. It is found naturally occurring in a range of habitats: along the seafront, in dunes or among marshy areas.
What are the health benefits of Saw Palmetto?
It maintains healthy prostate function1
Scientific studies have proven that taking Saw Palmetto berries helps maintain healthy prostate function2.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the enlargement of the prostate, the gland surrounding the urethra, i.e. the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. As the prostate enlarges, it may squeeze or partially obstruct the urethra, causing problems with urination such as nocturia, the need to urinate frequently during the night. Other possible effects are increased urination frequency, suddenly needing to urinate, incontinence, difficulty passing urine, prolonged dribbling or incomplete urination.
Given the positive benefits of this plant’s extracts for the prostate, other than for nocturia, Saw Palmetto has also been studied for other urination disorders, including increased frequency of urination, suddenly needing to urinate, urinary hesitancy and weak urine flow.
Conventional medicines used for treating BPH include so-called inhibitors of 5-α-reductase enzyme activity and α-adrenergic blockers.
And in recent years, medical research3 has revised the mode of action, efficacy and safety – including herb-drug interactions – of the most common botanical products.
As well as Saw Palmetto, this includes Cucurbita pepo L. (pumpkin seeds) and Urtica dioica L. (nettle root), which are combined with components such as isoflavones.
It helps maintain normal urinary function1
The components of the Serenoa repens plant help maintain normal urinary function in men aged over 454 and promotes peak urinary flow4.
Serenoa repens has also been widely studied in association with other compounds, with a view to observing increased activity. Some of the compounds it has been combined with include nettle root, selenium and lycopenes.
Using peak urinary flow rate and nocturia as reference, trials have been conducted involving over 4,000 participants with prostate problems. The participants have seen a marked improvement and a significant effect on peak flow rate, together with a reduction in the need to urinate during the night (2) when using supplements containing components from Saw Palmetto berries14.
It has beneficial effects on men’s health8
With prostate disorders often affecting the rhythm of men’s everyday life, the proven benefits of the herbal extracts contained in this product offer positive effects on men’s health8.
To evaluate the action of American Saw Palmetto berry extract on lower urinary tract disorders in patients with prostatitis, a study was conducted using 54 participants9. The participants took 320 mg capsules of palmetto berry extract once a day for 12 weeks. It was noted that the parameters studied to evaluate the effect of the palmetto extract improved when compared with the values initially considered. In addition, no apparent adverse reactions were observed in any of the patients.
This led to the conclusion that the American Saw Palmetto berry extract capsules may have a positive effect in these cases, and therefore on these people’s quality of life.
Saw palmetto, a source of fatty acids for reproduction8
The components of saw palmetto are recommended as a source of fatty acids for maintaining reproductive function in men (10). We have already seen how the extract of this plant helps treat prostate problems. The prostate’s function is to secrete seminal fluid, and this fluid contains liquid sperm which consists of substances essential for reproduction.
Prostate disorders such as enlargement can threaten sexual function and, as discussed above, healthy urinary function, because the urethra (the tube through which urine is expelled from the bladder) is surrounded by the prostate.
A pilot trial14 has concluded that preparations made from Saw palmetto berries could be well tolerated in people with an enlarged prostate. Eighty people participated in the eight-week trial, taking one 320 mg capsule of the American Saw Palmetto extract once a day. At the end of the trial, prostate symptoms had reduced and sexual dysfunction and sex life had improved. The assessments made by the researchers and those participating in this trial confirmed that it was effective.
It can promote natural hair growth in men10
Baldness or androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is particularly common in men from the age of about 20–30 onwards, and it happens slowly and progressively. One of the other possible benefits of Saw Palmetto is the promotion of natural hair growth in men10.
Pronounced hair loss is linked to genetics and to the male androgenic metabolism, and is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Excess production of any of the androgenic hormones causes miniaturisation of the hair, which leads to hair loss, although inadequate blood flow to the scalp may be another reason. Conventional medicines are widely used to treat these conditions, but they can cause several drawbacks. As a result, recent studies11 are having an impact on research into the use of plant-based components to promote hair growth. Researchers stress that its use can be further enhanced as it has fewer side effects and are conducting research into Saw Palmetto extract, ensuring that recent advances in medicine, cosmetics and engineering can prove advantageous.
It may help you keep your own hair10
Common baldness can also be caused by chronic inflammation (CI) of the hair follicle, and Saw Palmetto extract contains components that have a positive effect on mitigating this, helping you to keep your own hair10.
The use of Serenoa repens extract in patients with common baldness yielded a highly positive result. In a study to determine whether inhibiting inflammation using a composition with Saw Palmetto extract together with two other agents could alter the inflammation, the results supported this hypothesis12.
These findings suggest that this fact could mean a new approach in the treatment of baldness that is more effective than current methods.
Saw Palmetto as a supplement
Anastore’s Saw Palmetto supplements are recommended for people suffering from prostate or capillary disorders.
Anastore Saw Palmetto has several benefits:
- The extract of the Saw Palmetto berry is standardised to contain a minimum of 20% total fatty acids. The Prostate Formula supplement contains 40%.
- It helps maintain healthy prostate function and helps maintain correct bladder and urinary flow function3.
- It is approved by the regulatory bodies.
- American Saw Palmetto helps you keep your own hair for longer, and supports natural hair growth in men9.
Anastore has developed two products that help enhance the benefits of this plant:
- Prostate Formula, developed using standardised and concentrated extracts of Saw Palmetto, Nettle, Pumpkin and Selenium; this ensures a higher concentration of compounds compared to the dried plant. The product is available as a capsule and is aimed at men concerned about their prostate health.
- Pro Growth and Strengthening, developed from standardised extract of Saw Palmetto, Bilberry, Green tea, Horsetail, Zinc, Selenium and Biotin. Taking two capsules per day of Pro Growth and Strengthening - Men’s Hair will give your hair the ideal combination of plant extracts, vitamins and minerals for hair maintenance and growth.
Saw Palmetto characteristics and uses
The original Native Americans, the Seminole Indians, were already using it, and in Europe its use is documented from the late 18th century. In the early 19th century, Austrian botanists included it in the ‘Systema Vegetabilium’, a collection of books with descriptions of flowers and plants known at the time. Serenoa repens is given several different names, including sabal, sabal palm, saw palmetto, fan palm, cabbage palm and common palmetto. It is also known as the Carolina palmetto, Carolina palm, cane palm, dwarf palm and palmetto.
It can grow up to 20 metres high and has a peculiar-looking twisted trunk that can measure up to 50 centimetres wide. Its characteristic dark green palm leaves can grow to between 1.5 and 2 metres across and can contain as many as 80 leaflets.
The Saw Palmetto plant has white or yellow flowers that are fragrant and very small – about 5 millimetres. These appear under the leaves, grouped in inflorescences that can reach up to 2.5 metres in size. This plant also produces fruit – blackish-coloured berries with a rough appearance, about 1 centimetre long.
Components used in the health sector are extracted from these berries. They can contain up to 45% fatty acids in their composition, and their lipid extract can come in different formats, including as powder or oil.
Planting and harvesting Saw Palmetto
Serenoa repens grows in almost any type of terrain. It tolerates salt and sun very well, so it thrives in coastal areas; it can also tolerate the cold, wind, drought and flooding.
The berries grow on a stem growing out of the lower part of the palm; to harvest them, the stem is cut off, the berries are picked by hand and deposited in the picker’s bag. When they start to ripen at the end of summer and beginning of autumn, they are yellowy-orange in colour. It is during this period that the highest quality fruit is obtained. Later, the berries turn a blackish colour, and at that point they can simply fall straight off the stem using a suitable harvesting technique. Some pickers use netting, similar to fishing nets, to collect them.
- Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 2369).
- Weisser H, Tunn S, Behnke B, Krieg M. Effects of the sabal serrulata extract IDS 89 and its subfractions on 5 alpha-reductase activity in human benign prostatic hyperplasia. Prostate. 1996 May;28(5):300-6. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0045(199605)28:5<300::AID-PROS5>3.0.CO;2-F. PMID: 8610056.
- Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 3934).
- Boyle P, Robertson C, Lowe F, Roehrborn C. Updated meta-analysis of clinical trials of Serenoa repens extract in the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. BJU Int. 2004 Apr;93(6):751-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2003.04735.x. PMID: 15049985.
- Pagano E, Laudato M, Griffo M, Capasso R. Phytotherapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia. A minireview. Phytother Res. 2014 Jul;28(7):949-55. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5084. PMID: 25165780.
- Squadrito F, Morgia G. L’associazione di Serenoa repens più Licopene e Selenio è più efficace della sola Serenoa repens nel ridurre la crescita prostatica benigna [The association of Serenoa repens, lycopene and selenium is superior to Serenoa repens alone in reducing benign prostatic hyperplasia]. Urologia. 2011 Oct-Dec;78(4):297-9. Italian. doi: 10.5301/RU.2011.8520. PMID: 21786236.
- Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 2491).
- Shao YP, Xue HL, Shen BX, Ding LC, Chen ZS, Wei ZQ. [Saw palmetto fruit extract improves LUTS in type ⅢA prostatitis patients]. Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue. 2017 May;23(5):417-421. Chinese. PMID: 29717831.
- Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 2341).
- Dhariwala MY, Ravikumar P. An overview of herbal alternatives in androgenetic alopecia. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2019 Aug;18(4):966-975. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12930. Epub 2019 Apr 13. PMID: 30980598.
- Chittur S, Parr B, Marcovici G. Inhibition of inflammatory gene expression in keratinocytes using a composition containing carnitine, thioctic Acid and saw palmetto extract. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:985345. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep102. Epub 2011 Jun 8. PMID: 19692448; PMCID: PMC3137880.
- Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 2491).
- Suter A, Saller R, Riedi E, Heinrich M. Improving BPH symptoms and sexual dysfunctions with a saw palmetto preparation? Results from a pilot trial. Phytother Res. 2013 Feb;27(2):218-26. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4696. Epub 2012 Apr 23. PMID: 22522969.
- Saidi S, Stavridis S, Stankov O, Dohcev S, Panov S. Effects of Serenoa repens Alcohol Extract on Benign Prostate Hyperplasia. Pril (Makedon Akad Nauk Umet Odd Med Nauki). 2017 Sep 1;38(2):123-129. doi: 10.1515/prilozi-2017-0030. PMID: 28991765.