Does Saw Palmetto Affect Testosterone?

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  • Saw Palmetto

    Saw Palmetto

    Saw palmetto is a low-growing plant that resembles a palm tree. While it does produce tiny flowers, the berries are the most revered part of this plant. For centuries, the berries were used to treat a variety of medical issues. Even today, despite modern medical advancement, some doctors and researchers rely on it to treat some men’s health issues. However, saw palmetto isn’t right for everyone.

    Click through the slideshow to learn more about the plant, how it’s used, and whether it’s a good treatment choice for you. 

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  • Today’s Uses of Saw Palmetto

    Today’s Uses of Saw Palmetto

    Saw palmetto is widely used as an alternative medicine to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in Europe. BPH is also known as enlarged prostate. Germany’s regulating authority for herbal medicines has given the green light to saw palmetto as an approved form of treatment. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that saw palmetto is promoted to treat prostrate health issues as well as bladder and urinary problems.

    In America, however, the use of saw palmetto is less supported. Instead, it’s typically reserved for men seeking alternative treatment options. Most medical doctors don’t call on the herbal medicine as a treatment option.

  • Saw Palmetto and the Prostate

    Saw Palmetto and the Prostate

    Men with BPH might take saw palmetto in an effort to reduce their symptoms, but the benefits aren’t clear-cut. Some studies have shown that it has helped men with BPH find symptom relief. However, a 2006 study found that saw palmetto was just as effective at reducing symptoms of BPH as a placebo.

    Saw palmetto has some anecdotal success in treating BPH, so some men take it in an effort to stop the growth of cancer cells in the prostate. The research on this use is mixed.

  • Saw Palmetto and Testosterone

    Saw Palmetto and Testosterone

    Saw palmetto affects a man’s testosterone level. According to the ACS, chemicals in saw palmetto berries prevent the body’s natural response to testosterone. This interference reduces prostate cell growth. Men with BPH may experience fewer symptoms as a result.

    Researchers don’t fully understand how saw palmetto chemicals actually alter a man’s testosterone, despite decades of study.

  • Saw Palmetto and Libido

    Saw Palmetto and Libido

    Saw palmetto interferes with testosterone’s effects on the body. Lower hormone levels may mean reduced prostate symptoms. Some men take it for this purpose, but others take saw palmetto in hopes that it will increase testosterone’s effects on their bodies.

    According to ACS, men sometimes take saw palmetto in order to increase their sex drive, improve libido, and increase fertility.

  • Side Effects of Saw Palmetto

    Side Effects of Saw Palmetto

    In most cases, side effects of saw palmetto are limited to minor discomforts, such as headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, or upset stomach. However, saw palmetto has been linked to liver injury in a few rare cases.

    All medicines, supplements, and herbs can interact with one another when taken simultaneously and cause serious problems. Saw palmetto, for example, may interfere with your blood’s ability to clot. If you’re taking prescription blood thinners, such as warfarin or aspirin, you should not take saw palmetto. Check with your doctor about possible interactions.

  • How to Take Saw Palmetto

    How to Take Saw Palmetto

    Dried saw palmetto berries are available for purchase in some health food and vitamin stores. You might also find dried berries that have been pulverized to powder and made into capsules, tablets, tinctures, teas, or extracts.

    A few over-the-counter men’s vitamins contain saw palmetto in addition to other vitamins and minerals. Read the label thoroughly. No standard dosage level has been established, so talk with your doctor before you begin taking saw palmetto.

  • A Note About Safety

    A Note About Safety

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbs and alternative medicines. That means that health claims made by the companies producing these products aren’t verified. In other words, there’s no way to know if the product you’re consuming actually is what the manufacturer says it is. 

    You must be selective about the products you consume. To be safe, only take herbal medicines under the supervision of your doctor.

  • A Mixed Message for Saw Palmetto

    A Mixed Message for Saw Palmetto

    The research into saw palmetto’s health benefits isn’t crystal clear. Some studies have shown great benefits for men who suffer from enlarged prostate. In addition, saw palmetto appears to relieve symptoms related to BPH, such as nighttime and frequent urination, or difficulty urinating.

    Some studies show that saw palmetto is not any more effective than a placebo when taken in a blind study. The bottom line: talk with your doctor about your individual health, your risks, and your treatment plans. 

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