Known for its positive effects on the urinary and reproductive systems, and prostate health, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a type of small palm tree that can grow to a maximum height around 7 to 10 feet. It is native to the southeastern United States and thrives in a warmer to hot climate. Saw palmetto has been used by Indigenous people who first discovered its varied health benefits many centuries ago.
The saw palmetto plant features small berries that have been used medicinally for hundreds of years, but in modern times, the extract from saw palmetto’s berries have been applied to a wide range of medical issues. In men, saw palmetto is most prominently recommended as a natural remedy for prostate issues, including symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Although it has popularly been used primarily by men, saw palmetto has been found to be effective for women, and women’s health issues as well.
The ripe berries are dark and very oily when picked, and at this stage they are the most effective for use in supplements. The constituents of the berries contain phytosterols, primarily beta sitosterol, as well as fatty acids, polysaccharides, and flavonoids.
Saw palmetto can help to block the conversion of testosterone to the more reactive form, dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. When the levels of DHT become high, we see high testosterone symptoms like hirsutism, oily skin, and loss of hair. When high levels of DHT are present in both men and women, you may see dramatic benefits in the areas of androgenetic alopecia, excess hair growth, negative effects with their menstrual cycles, acne, and urinary tract problems.
Saw palmetto has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers, which is beneficial when skin conditions like acne are inflamed. Many women see great benefit with using saw palmetto in regard to urinary tract health (primarily due to its anti-inflammatory benefits), bloating, and PCOS-induced pelvic discomfort.
Although saw palmetto is generally regarded as safe, consulting a healthcare practitioner is always recommended. Saw palmetto is available in capsules, tablets, liquid tinctures, tea, and in many combination formulas.