Saw palmetto for use in men’s health.

Can you give some guidance on the use of saw palmetto for prostate issues and are there any issues (positive or negative) with regards to libido? Thanks!
Yes. Let’s take a closer look at saw palmetto.
Botanical Nomenclature:
Name: Serenoa repens, serrulata
Family: Arecaceae
Common: saw palmetto, sabal
Part used: fruit
Description of plant:
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a shrub or small tree in the palm family native to the southeastern United States.
Saw palmetto is considered to be moistening, sweet and slightly warming.
Key constituents:
lipids, sterols, an enzyme cleaves off the fatty acids.
Summary of historical uses and current uses:
Historically used as a women’s reproductive tonic Historically used as a respiratory tract and for dry irritated nasal passages due to its moistening qualitiesMore recently used in issues regarding the prostate and male sexual dysfunction.
Clinical uses of saw palmetto in prostate issues.
Clearly, there is much conflicting information on the use of saw palmetto for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). In the following trial (1), the authors conclude that ‘saw palmetto was not superior to placebo for improving urinary symptoms and objective measures of benign prostatic hyperplasia.’ However, this finding contrasts with the findings of 21 randomized, placebo-controlled trials of saw palmetto on over 3,000 men that were systematically reviewed in 2001. 3 in 9 of these studies, saw palmetto consumption increased the peak urinary flow rate 1.86 mL per second more than did placebo. In a tenth study reviewed (a trial conducted in the U.S.), saw palmetto improved symptom scores equivalent to the AUASI by 4.4 points while the placebo group improved 2.2 points after randomization of both agents.
Conclusion: More research needs to be done on the plant but it may be worth a try given that the positive data outweigh the negative. As always, consult your physician before taking any supplements.
Clinical trials regarding the use of saw palmetto for libido.
In a 2012 trial, 76% of patients and 82% of investigators indicated that the efficacy of the saw palmetto berry extract was very good or good. Patients deemed that the treatment was most effective on erectile function and libido combined (66%). Sixty-two patients said that they would use the treatment again, and investigators would prescribe the medication again in 91% of cases.(2)
The majority of adverse effects reported were mild, infrequent, and reversible. The most frequently occurring adverse events were abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, headache, decreased libido, and rhinitis. No drug interactions were reported for saw palmetto. The authors conclude that saw palmetto is well tolerated and is not associated with serious adverse events. (3)
(1) Saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia, Bent S, Kane C, Shinohara K, et al. NEJM. Feb 9, 2006;354(6):1-10.
(2) Improving BPH symptoms and sexual dysfunctions with a saw palmetto preparation. Results from a pilot trial. Suter A, Saller R, Riedi E, Heinrich M. Improving Phytother Res. April 23, 2012
(3) Serenoa repens (saw palmetto). A systematic review of adverse events. Agbabiaka TB, Pittler MH, Wider B, Ernst E. Drug Safety. August 8, 2009;32(8): 637-647.
Jayne Tamburello has a master’s degree in Herbal Medicine from MUIH (Maryland University of Integrative Health) and is founder of Invibe Herbal— a full line of organic herbal teas for your health. Please visit our website at: Jayne is also a licensed nutritionist (LDN), a certified nutritionist (CNS), and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild, RH(AHG). She can be reached at

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