Managing prostate health with saw palmetto

Saw palmetto (also known as the American dwarf palm tree) has many benefits for managing an aging prostate. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and is rich in phytosterols — including beta-sitosterol — and fatty acids. Saw palmetto can be a healthy part of a prostate-friendly lifestyle and diet.

Another benefit of saw palmetto as it relates to aging health is that this supplement can help manage hormones that are responsible for regulating prostate growth. Saw palmetto extract can help block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and it inhibits 5-alpha-reductase activity in prostate tissue. Studies have found that it improves urinary flow and decreases nighttime urination, which can help improve a man’s quality of life.

Shopping for prostate supplements

When researching the top prostate supplements with saw palmetto, keep certain things in mind. Look for a formulation that also contains at least the following ingredients:

  • Stinging nettle.
  • Curcumin.
  • Quercetin.

These ingredients work well with saw palmetto, plus there are a few other ingredients that are also beneficial for prostate health. The better prostate formulations also include:

  • Beta-sitosterol.
  • Vitamin D3.
  • DIM.
  • Cranberry.
  • Pygeum.
  • Zinc.
  • Green tea extract.
  • Pollen exracts.

Read the supplement panel to find out if the product contains clinical-strength ingredients that are going to make a positive difference in your health. Do not buy products that have a “proprietary blend,” which could indicate that the manufacturer is hiding the fact there are very small amounts of the ingredients.

You’ll want to consider who made the product you want to take. Look for a doctor created prostate supplement that was formulated by a naturopath or urologist who specializes in treating men with prostate health problems.

Some studies on saw palmetto

There are many studies on saw palmetto, but there are some things to know about this supplement. When saw palmetto is used alone in studies on prostate health, it sometimes does not work as well as when it is combined with other supplements.

  • In one study involving saw palmetto and prostatitis, a group of prostatitis patients took antibiotics, while another group took antibiotics with a supplement that contained saw palmetto, curcumin, quercetin, and other natural ingredients. Nearly 90 percent of patients who took the supplement said their symptoms were gone after one month, compared to only 27 percent of the men who took only the antibiotic. Prostatitis did not return for any men in the supplement group during the following six months. Patients who didn’t use the supplement continued to experience persistent problems. (Cai 2009)
  • One study found that saw palmetto relieved urinary symptoms in patients with an enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) as effectively as a popular pharmaceutical drug. Researchers found that saw palmetto was as effective as finasteride (Proscar), a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, without the scary side effects of prostate drugs. (Pais, 2010)
  • Saw palmetto has also been found to work as well as the drug tamsulosin (Flomax). Patients with chronic prostatitis were randomly assigned to take either 160 mg of saw palmetto twice a day or 0.4 mg of Flomax for six weeks. After six weeks, the men in both groups showed similar progress in Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (CPSI) scores, but the men who took saw palmetto showed a larger decline in their pain scores.
  • An interesting study from the University of Messina reported on the use of saw palmetto along with two other natural supplements that are associated with prostate health: selenium and lycopene. It appears that when saw palmetto is taken with the antioxidants selenium and lycopene, it is more effective at reducing the weight and size of an enlarged prostate gland than use of saw palmetto alone. (Altavilla, 2011)

Taking saw palmetto

Men have been taking saw palmetto to help manage their prostate health for more than 200 years. There are not any known drug interactions or major side effects. One side effect that many men enjoy is that saw palmetto helps prevent or slow the progression of male pattern baldness.

Saw palmetto extract is effective at 320 to 640 mg per day. This amount boosts prostate health and promotes a healthy libido. Talk to your health care provider before you start taking any new supplements.

References:

Altavilla, D., et al. The combination of Serenoa repens, selenium and lycopene is more effective than serenoa repens alone to prevent hormone dependent prostatic growth. J Urol. 2011 Oct;186(4):1524-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21855911

Cai T et al. Serenoa repens associated with Urtica dioica and curcumin and quercitin extracts are able to improve the efficacy of prulifloxacin in bacterial prostatitis patients: results from a prospective randomized study. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2009 Jun; 33(6): 549-53.

Pais P. Potency of a novel saw palmetto ethanol extract, SPET-05, for inhibition of 5alpha-reductase II. Adv Ther 2010 Aug; 27(8): 555-63

Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.