Saw Palmetto is a small, palm-like plant native to North America. Native Americans and early American settlers used the berries to treat problems associated with the genitals, urinary tract and reproductive system. This herb is called the "plant catheter" due to its therapeutic effect on the neck of the bladder and the prostate in men. Saw Palmetto is widely used in Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom and now the U.S. for nutritionally benefiting the prostate and urinary tract. It has been marketed as an aphrodisiac for both men and women.
The active constituents are volatile oil, steroidal saponin, tannins, and polysaccharides. Saw Palmetto is a tonic, and is one of the few herbal remedies that are considered to be anabolic - it strengthens and builds body tissues.
For men it treats an enlarged and weakened prostate gland. It has shown significant action in treatment of conditions associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Saw palmetto extract works to prevent testosterone from converting into dihydrotestosterone, the hormone thought to cause prostrate cells to multiply, leading to an enlarged prostate. It is chiefly used as a diuretic and to tone the bladder by improving urinary flow, and relieving strain. Regular use of saw palmetto may decrease urinary frequency, especially during the night, by allowing complete bladder expulsion and reducing inflammation of the bladder and enlarged prostrate.
Saw palmetto inhibits androgen and estrogen receptor activity and may be beneficial for both sexes in balancing the hormones. Because of it hormonal effects it can aid the thyroid in regulating sexual development and normalizing activity of those glands and organs.
Women have used the herb to stimulate breast enlargement and lactation as well as treating ovarian and uterine irritability. It has been prescribed for reduced or absent sex drive, impotence and frigidity. Because of its potential hormonal effects, pregnant women should not use it.
The berries have been recommended in treatment of diseases that deprive the body of strength and growth. Preliminary evidence exists to also suggest saw palmetto may also aid those suffering from thyroid deficiency. Saw palmetto is a good expectorant for use in clearing chest congestion and can be used to treat coughs, asthma, and bronchitis.
It has also been used to stimulate appetite, improve digestion, nourish the nervous system and increase the assimilation of nutrients to the body.
Parts Used: Fresh berries and dried berries as capsules or in preparation as a tincture.
Common Use: The berries have long held a reputation as sexual stimulants and aphrodisiacs. The largest use today is as a supplement for reducing enlarged prostate glands, treating urinary tract problems and for improving body strength.
Care: Saw Palmetto can be found in sand dunes along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. The plant grows from the Carolinas to Texas. Prefers well-drained soil and plenty of sun. The berries are harvested in autumn. Seeds are removed after the herb is dried for propagation in the spring.