Saw Palmetto: What It Is And What It Does

You might have heard ads all over the radio advertising saw palmetto, and have grown curious as to what this product is and for what is it used.  There are simple explanations to both of these questions.

What is Saw Palmetto?

Saw palmetto is known by the botanical name of Serenoa repens.  This plant, which is a type of fan palm, is native to the southeastern United States, and thrives especially well in Florida.  It looks like a palm tree only much shorter, taking on more the appearance of a shrub.  After the plant flowers, berries are produced, and this is what you will typically find available for sale locally as well as from online dried herb merchants.

The saw palmetto berry may be offered in different forms.  These often include powder, which can be placed inside capsules, or the berries can be cut and then sifted into a uniform size.  Saw palmetto extract is also commonly available.  Saw palmetto extract is usually thought of as a liquid extract that is made through a distilling process.  Organic versions as well as wild crafted may also be found.  Products such as organic saw palmetto extract and saw palmetto berry that have achieved organic certification have met rigorous standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture and National Organic Program.  Wild crafted herbs are those that are gathered from wild-growing plants.  Saw palmetto berry may also be available in a standardized form.  This means that there is a guaranteed amount of saw palmetto berry in each serving.

What Does Saw Palmetto Berry Do?

Saw palmetto extract and berries are thought to reduce enlarged prostate glands.  The condition, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, causes the prostate to increase in size as men age, and thus these products are marketed to middle-aged and older men.  It may also help as an antiseptic and to increase urine flow.  It has been used in herbal medicine traditions as a uterine tonic.  It may help to induce coughing, and may even have sedative qualities.  It may increase the sex drive and may be used as a tonic to slowly and generally improve health.

Saw palmetto berry, saw palmetto extract and all herbal products need to be used with care.  Because they have not received FDA evaluation, they should not be used for the treatment or prevention of disease.  If you believe yourself to have a medical problem, you should seek advice from your health care provider promptly.

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