This fact sheet provides basic information about
the herb plant or part of a plant used for its flavor,
scent, or potential therapeutic properties. Includes flowers,
leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, stems, and roots. saw palmetto--common
names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more
information. Saw palmetto grows in the southern United States.
Common Names--saw palmetto, American dwarf palm tree,
Latin Names--Serenoa repens, Sabal serrulataT
What It Is Used For
- Saw palmetto is used mainly for urinary symptoms associated
with an enlarged prostate gland (also called benign prostatic
hyperplasia, or BPH).
- Saw palmetto is also used for other conditions, including
chronic pelvic pain, bladder disorders, decreased sex drive,
hair loss, and hormone imbalances.
How It Is Used
The ripe fruit of saw palmetto is used in several forms,
including ground and dried fruit or whole berries. It is available
as a liquid extract, tablets, capsules, and as an infusion
or a tea.
What the Science Says
- Several small studies suggest that saw palmetto may be
effective for treating BPH symptoms.
- In 2006, a large study of 225 men with moderate-to-severe
BPH found no improvement with 320 mg saw palmetto daily
for 1 year versus placebo. NCCAM cofunded the study with
the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
- There is not enough scientific evidence to support the
use of saw palmetto for reducing the size of an enlarged
prostate or for any other conditions.
- Saw palmetto does not appear to affect readings of prostate-specific
antigen (PSA) levels. PSA is protein produced by cells in
the prostate. The PSA test is used to screen for prostate
cancer and to monitor patients who have had prostate cancer.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Saw palmetto may cause mild side effects, including stomach
- Some men using saw palmetto have reported side effects
such as tender breasts and a decline in sexual desire.
- Tell your health care providers about any herb or dietary
supplement product that contains vitamins, minerals,
herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or
other ingredients intended to supplement the diet. The U.S.
Food and Drug Administration has special labeling requirements
for dietary supplements and treats them as foods, not drugs.
you are using, including saw palmetto. This helps to ensure
safe and coordinated care.
Saw palmetto. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web
site. Accessed March 30, 2006.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens [Bartran] Small). Natural
Standard Database Web site. Accessed March 30, 2006.
Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg
G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements.
New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005;635-644.
De Smet PA. Herbal
remedies. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002;347(25):2046-2056.
National Cancer Institute. The Prostate-Specific Antigen
(PSA) Test: Questions and Answers. National Cancer Institute
Web site. Accessed at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Detection/PSA
on March 30, 2006.
Saw palmetto berry. In: Blumenthal, M, Goldberg, A, Brinckman,
J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs.
Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:335-340.
Bent S, Kane C, Shinohara K, et al. Saw
palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia. New England
Journal of Medicine. 2006;354(6):557-566.
For More Information
Visit the NCCAM Web site
Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers): 1-866-464-3615
CAM on PubMed
Web site: nccam.nih.gov/camonpubmed/
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
NIH National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus
Saw Palmetto Listing: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-sawpalmetto.html
This publication is not copyrighted and is
in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.
NCCAM has provided this material for your
information. It is not intended to substitute for the
medical expertise and advice of your primary health
care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions
about treatment or care with your health care provider.
The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not
an endorsement by NCCAM.