Saw Palmetto

Herbal Supplements

Peer Reviewed

Saw palmetto is a fan palm that grows in warm climates. The plant produces berries that when ripe are dried for herbal preparations. The berries contain polysaccharides known for their anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties.
 A small dish filled with dried saw palmetto berries on a white background.Saw palmetto is used to treat urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate gland. In addition, this herb may stimulate appetite, act as a diuretic, and may enhance libido.

Sources of Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is available in the following forms: dried berries, teas, encapsulated powder, tablets, tinctures, and extracts. Purchase standardized products (at least 85% fatty acids and sterols).

Guidelines and Cautions
Always follow package directions.

  • If a prostate problem is suspected, consult a medical professional. Do not self-dose saw palmetto to treat the prostate.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use saw palmetto.
  • Saw palmetto may affect hormone levels and should not be taken with contraceptive pills, patches, or hormone replacement therapy.

Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.

Updated on: 01/22/19
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Mark R. McLaughlin, MD
While I have had some patients that describe improvement of their symptoms from various dietary supplements, there is little scientific evidence that they work. In small amounts, I do not believe they are harmful, but I am not convinced they are any more effective than adhering to a healthy, well-balanced diet. On the contrary, there is strong scientific evidence showing that patients with a poor overall nutritional status have higher complication rates from surgery.
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This herb may enhance digestion and used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, morning sickness, menstrual cramps, poor appetite, gas, diarrhea, headache, migraine, and skin irritations.
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