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4 Health Benefits of Saw Palmetto

People use the fruit of saw palmetto in a variety of ways, including as ground and dried fruit or whole berries.

It is also available in a liquid, tablet, capsule, infusion, or tea form.

Saw palmetto is a palm plant.

The plant’s berries can boost prostate health, regulate hormone levels, and prevent hair loss in men.

Saw palmetto can also provide other health benefits, such as improved urinary function.

Here are four optimistic health benefits of saw palmetto.

1. May Regulate Testosterone Levels

People who naturally seek to increase testosterone levels commonly use saw palmetto.

Regulating testosterone levels can affect various health aspects, including the composition of the body, sex drive, mood, and cognition (1).

Testosterone levels decrease with age, and study has shown that low testosterone levels may lead to conditions such as heart disease (2).

Saw palmetto works by reducing the 5α-R activity to an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is another sex hormone that preserves testosterone in the body (3).

One test-tube study found that the benefits of saw palmetto extract in the management of testosterone levels were equivalent to those of the steroid finasteride (4).

Finasteride is a steroid drug used to treat hair loss and BPH by reducing 5α-R activity in the body.

Another 40-man study found that saw palmetto treatment decreased DHT levels after 6 months by 32%, showing that saw palmetto was successful in controlling testosterone levels (5).

2. May Prevents Hair Loss

Hair loss is a common condition caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, certain medical conditions, hormonal changes, and medication use, such as stimulants (6).

However, saw palmetto regulates hormones and prevents hair loss by blocking the 5-alpha-reductase (5α-R) activity.

The 5-alpha-reductase (5α-R) enzyme converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Thus, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone can affect your hair health.

As a result, saw palmetto can prevent hair loss by reducing the uptake of DHT by the hair follicle, which decreases its ability to bind to specific hormone receptors (7).

In one study, saw palmetto reduced baldness by 60% in men aged 23 to 64 (8).

A study in 62 adults found that the topical usage of saw palmetto improved hair density by 35% within 3 months (7).

3. May Improve Prostate Health

The prostate is a small gland in males that maintains sperm health. It is located between the bladder and the penis (9).

Research shows saw palmetto may support prostate health and may help prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a type of prostate cancer. One test-tube study showed that palmetto berry extract may decrease prostate cancer cell growth (10).

Another test-tube study found that saw palmetto prevented the spread and development of prostate cancer cells by deactivating specific cancer receptors (11).

Other humans and animal studies show that it can also be effective in reducing urinary symptoms, such as BPH-related inflammation (12, 13, 14).

Some studies do not correlate saw palmetto benefits to a lower risk of prostate cancer and they consider it an unsuccessful strategy in reducing BPH symptoms (15, 16, 17).

4. May Improve Urinary Tract Function

Symptoms of the urinary tract are common among older men. It may include problems, such as incontinence and urination difficulties (18).

Saw palmetto can ease urinary symptoms associated with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that causes prostate gland enlargement and leads to decreased urine flow.

A 12-week study of 92 men found that taking two capsules daily of Prostataplex, a mixture of herbal supplements that includes saw palmetto, helped improve the symptoms of BPH-related urinary tract (12).

Likewise, another study in 85 men over the age of 45 found that treatment with 160 mg of saw palmetto twice daily decreased symptoms of the urinary tract, increased the flow of urine, and improved overall quality of life after 6 months (13).

However, we need more research to determine whether saw palmetto in the general population can also improve urinary tract function, including those without prostate problems.

Dosage and Forms

Saw palmetto is widely available in many forms. Adding it to your daily routine is easy. These supplements come in unique forms, such as liquids, capsules, soft gels, or tablets.

The manufacturers usually combine it with other ingredients, such as pumpkin seed extract, to help improve prostate health (19).

However, you can also find it in less common forms, such as roasted, dried, or powdered tea. Most studies used 320 mg of saw palmetto divided into two doses.

Side Effects

Saw palmetto is safe and has very few side effects associated with it. Headache, dizziness, vomiting, and constipation are some of the most common side effects of saw palmetto (20). 

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, for instance, should avoid taking saw palmetto because it can affect hormone levels. Saw palmetto may not be suitable for those taking hormone replacement therapy (21).

Further research is needed to measure its potential side effects. Saw palmetto may also interfere with blood-thinning drugs, which may increase the risk of bleeding (22).

If you have any underlying conditions, such as taking other drugs, being pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to consult with your health care provider before adding a saw palmetto supplement to your routine.

Conclusion

Saw palmetto contains many health benefits.

Studies show that saw palmetto can help increase testosterone levels, improve the health of the prostate.

In addition, it reduces inflammation, prevents hair loss, and improves the function of the urinary tract.

Some studies, however, have reported mixed results on its efficacy.

To understand how saw palmetto could affect health, we need more large-scale human studies.

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