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Try Saw Palmetto for Prostate Health By Christine Climer
In their recent article about using saw palmetto to treat prostate disorders, Andrea Gordon, M.D., and Allen Shaughnessy, Pharm.D., state that “saw palmetto appears to have efficacy similar to that of medications like finasteride, but it is better tolerated and less expensive.”
A small, perennial palm that grows in the extreme southern portion of the United States, saw palmetto produces berries that were eaten as a food staple and used medicinally by Native Americans. These berries are still used medicinally today to relieve urinary symptoms associated with prostate enlargement.
Formal studies on the herb use a dosage of 160 mg twice daily. The most common side effect noted in these studies has been stomach upset. Like other herbs, it has the potential to prolong bleeding times. If you have a bleeding disorder, are taking anticoagulants or anti-inflammatory medications or if you anticipate having surgery, you should speak with your doctor before taking saw palmetto.
When selecting a product, read the label carefully to make sure it contains at least 80% volatile oils (fatty acids and sterols). These oils are the part of the berry that makes it effective. Also, let your doctor know that you would like to take the herb for prostate symptoms so that he or she can monitor your response and adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
For more information
Gordon AE, Shaughnessy AF. Saw palmetto for prostate disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Mar 15;67(6):1281-3. Review.
University of Maryland Medicine, Complementary Medicine website
USDA Plants Database
© Christine Climer
Christine Climer is a registered nurse with experience in pulmonary disease, pediatrics, home health and hospice services. Also trained in early childhood education, she is currently executive director and child care nurse for an early childhood health promotion organization. She lives with her husband and three children (including a set of twins) in Texas and enjoys researching health issues and gardening.