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What is saw palmetto?


Saw palmetto (S. repens) is a palm plant that grows in warm climates. Saw palmetto berry extract is an herb rich in fatty acids and has been used in alternative medicines for a variety of reasons including enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH can cause pain when urinating, waking numerous times at night to urinate, or a weak urine stream.

Some studies have shown saw palmetto to be as effective as the prescription drug finasteride (Proscar®) in relieving the symptoms of BPH. Saw palmetto can noticeably reduce the symptoms of BPH in about half of the men who use it. It takes four to six weeks of therapy to see results. While saw palmetto helps relieve urinary symptoms, it does not appear to shrink the size of the prostate. More studies are needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of this herb in treating BPH.

Saw palmetto suggested dosage

The usual dose of saw palmetto is 160 mg taken twice daily by mouth or 320 mg once daily. Saw palmetto is an herbal supplement and hasn't been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating any medical condition. If you're having problems with urination, you should see your doctor to find out the cause of your symptoms before taking saw palmetto.

Potential side effects from saw palmetto

Most men tolerate saw palmetto well without side effects. Mild dizziness, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea are the most commonly reported side effects. Other uncommon saw palmetto side effects include mild headache low blood pressure, muscle pain, and runny nose. There have been very few complaints of sexual dysfunction or low sex drive with saw palmetto. One man studied had liver damage while taking saw palmetto, but the study did not show if the extract actually caused the problem.

Drug interactions with saw palmetto

There are no reports of interactions between saw palmetto and medicines or other herbs. Saw palmetto could potentially interfere with oral contraceptives and hormonal therapy, you should tell your doctor if you are taking a hormone medicine. It is a possibility that taking saw palmetto with warfarin (Coumadin®) could increase its anticoagulant effects, increasing the risk of bleeding. Always talk with your doctor before taking any herbal or alternative medicines such as saw palmetto.

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