effects of saw palmetto


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Effects of saw palmetto

Saw palmetto is widely accepted in Europe for treating symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) - an enlargement of the prostate. About half of men above 50 years are affected with BPH. BPH is hormonally driven and results from a rise in the compound dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and a drop in testosterone level. Studies found the effects of saw palmetto are the inhibition of the actions of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that signals the male hormone to convert into DHT.

First uses of saw palmetto
The first people to use saw palmetto were the Native Americans who used saw palmetto berries as staple during the winter months. During this period of taking saw palmetto, older men felt an improvement in the frequency of nighttime urination. The effects of saw palmetto are mostly associated with the bladder and urinary tract while the natives used the extracts for the treatment of nocturia, enuresis, impotence, infertility, atrophy of the testes, inflammation of the prostate, reduced sexual functions, pelvic cramps, and problems in lactation.

Today, the effects of saw palmetto are not only confined to health. Its growing demand consequently is making a $50 million dollar business out of exporting 2,000 tons of saw palmetto annually to Europe where it's most popular.

Berry healthy claims
Saw palmetto is regarded as a potent herb that helps promote a healthy prostate especially in older men. In some clinical trials, the effects of saw palmetto extract seemingly did not interfere with the release of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - an indication of prostate cancer.

Some clinical trials produced contrasting results on the effects of saw palmetto. A three-year trial in Germany (data not available for the number of participants) reported an improvement in urination of 73% of patients. Contrastingly in a 2006 study, 225 men with moderate to severe BPH took 160mg saw palmetto extract twice daily for one year but reported no significant difference in their condition. This study was co-funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

The effects of saw palmetto on BPH lie mainly in treating and the remission of its symptoms. Studies have not produced conclusive evidences showing saw palmetto extract can aggressively shrink the size of an enlarged prostate. Moreover, the public is warned that saw palmetto remains unregulated by the FDA despite the clamor of its efficacy. It's best to seek advice from a professional health practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
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