Saw Palmetto is an herbal supplement that has grown in popularity mostly because of its ability to alleviate male prostate problems. It is also well known for use in the treatment of such conditions as hair loss, low libido, low sperm production, low appetite, bladder disorders, bronchitis, cancer and diabetes. Native American Indians have been aware of the therapeutic effects of Saw Palmetto for centuries and they utilized it largely to combat urinary problems. Early European colonists in America employed Saw Palmetto to treat severe weakness. They also used it to aid in the recovery from almost any major illness.
Herbal supplements of Saw Palmetto are derived from the dried, ripe berry of the American Dwarf Palm Tree. That tree is referred to as a “dwarf” due to the fact that it grows only to a modest height of 2 to 4 meters. It is found mostly in the southeastern part of the USA and it usually grows in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine forests.
Saw Palmetto is used primarily to heal urinary symptoms that develop from benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). That condition is an enlargement of the prostate gland caused by a non-cancerous overgrowth of cells. While it is not cancerous, BPH can still cause a great deal of discomfort and inconvenience. The overgrowth of cells can press on the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder, and thus interfere with normal urination. That can lead to a frequent and urgent need to urinate, an un-even urine flow and the feeling that one’s bladder is not entirely empty. This disease is surprisingly common: it often begins to afflict men over 40 and it affects more than half of all men over 60! That being the case, the importance of an effective treatment such as Saw Palmetto becomes clear.
Why is Saw Palmetto effective in the treatment of such a condition as BPH? The production of dyhydrosterone, a form of testosterone that contributes to prostate enlargement, is inhibited by Saw Palmetto. Also, urine flow is partly determined by the muscle tone of the prostate and the urinary bladder neck. Saw Palmetto relaxes the muscle tone in these areas and thus improves that urine flow.
Studies that have been conducted on Saw Palmetto have yielded positive results. Researchers have reported that a group treated with Saw Palmetto showed 28% more reduction in their urinary symptoms than in a group treated with a placebo. One review done by the Cochrane Collaboration examined 21 trials and came to the conclusion that saw palmetto does improve BPH symptoms as well as leading allopathic remedies but with fewer side effects.
In Europe, Saw Palmetto is already the initial treatment of choice for treating urinary difficulties. The USA ships nearly 200 tons of Saw Palmetto to Europe annually for the European Herbal Supplement market. Based somewhat on the positive reaction from Europe to that type of treatment, to the accessibility of Saw Palmetto without the need for a prescription and also to possible disappointment with allopathic prostate drugs, herbal treatment with Saw Palmetto appears to be set to continue to grow in use and popularity.
In their book, “Prescription For Nutritional Healing,” Phyllis and James Balch recommend that in the treatment of BPH Saw Palmetto can effectively be combined with Nettle Root.
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