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Saw Palmetto is a prostate formula that can have a therapeutic effect on the neck of the bladder and prostate in men. Saw Palmetto may also help in treating an enlarged or weakened prostate gland. Saw Palmetto can be a great product to take for those individuals suffering from bladder dysfunction or for those with prostate problems.
Saw palmetto is a standardized extract from the berries of saw palmetto trees. Native Americans have consumed the fruit of Palmetto tree for a long time. Recent studies suggest that extracts of the plant may be beneficial in the management of specific health concerns. Saw palmetto is a popular remedy for urinary tract disorders, particularly in males. It is often said that any man who lives long enough will suffer prostate problems. Saw palmetto berries and extracts may ease prostate symptoms. Historically, the saw palmetto berries were also used in the treatment of genito-urinary tract problems.
Saw Palmetto is primarily used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate gland that affects about half of all men older than fifty. BPH is a noncancerous growth of the prostate gland. If the prostate grows in mature men, it pinches the urethra, or urine tube, and problems begin, including painful urination and frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom.
During the first half of this century, saw palmetto was frequently used in conventional , mostly as a mild diuretic and as therapy for chronic cystitis; saw palmetto was also considered good for enlargement of the prostate. The active constituent was supposed to be a volatile oil, but physicians began to question saw palmetto's efficacy, and in 1950, saw palmetto was deleted from the listing of official medications in The National Formulary.
Then, during the 1960s, investigators found relatively high concentrations of free and bound sitosterols in the dried berries. Various plant extracts as well as pure beta-sitosterol, which was also isolated, exhibited estrogenic activity when injected into immature female mice. Although the activity was found to be relatively high compared to other estrogen-like compounds isolated from plants, it was rather low in comparison to the female sex hormones themselves. A saw palmetto extract was only about 1/10,000 as potent as estradiol, and even pure beta-sitosterol was less than 1/10 as strong.
Preparations of saw palmetto are widely used in Europe today for the treatment of conditions associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH (nonmalignant enlargement of the prostate gland). The German health authorities have approved saw palmetto for this purpose, but preparations made from it must contain the lipophilic (fat-soluble) components of the medication. Thus, little or no benefit for such a condition would be derived from a tea made from the herb since it would not contain a therapeutic dose of the water-insoluble active principles. Besides, in the United States, the FDA has banned the sale of all nonprescription 'medications' intended for the treatment of BPH because they have not received evidence proving them effective. Nevertheless, saw palmetto preparations are widely sold as 'dietary supplements.'
In 1998, advertisements began to appear promoting the use of saw palmetto to stimulate hair regrowth in men. This assertion was apparently based on the unwarranted assumption that because the prescription medication finasteride (Propecia) was useful for treating both BPH and hair loss, saw palmetto would also be effective for both conditions. There is absolutely no clinical evidence to support the use of saw palmetto to prevent the loss of hair or to promote its regrowth. Saw palmetto extracts are widely prescribed by urologists in France, Italy, and Germany for the supportive treatment of BPH. The condition is not amenable to self-diagnosis or unsupervised treatment. Consumers considering this therapeutic option in the form of dietary supplement products are strongly advised to discuss the matter with their physician.
Saw palmetto berries contain free fatty acids and plant sterol compounds described as phytosterols or sitosterols, especially beta-sitos-terol and some related chemicals. These ingredients appear to modify estrogen receptors and block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more active chemical. There are also flavonoids and some polysaccharides in the berries, but their activity has not been described. Standardized products contain 85 to 95 percent fatty acids and sterols.
At least seven controlled studies demonstrate that saw palmetto berry extract is better than placebo for treating symptoms of benign prostate hypertrophy (frequent urination, restricted urine flow, nighttime urination). In one study, saw palmetto was nearly as effective as the prescription medication Minipress (prazosin) for controlling such symptoms, and in other research it reportedly performed better than the prescription prostate Proscar (finasteride) in reducing symptoms. Research using ultrasound has shown that saw palmetto berry extract can shrink enlarged prostate tissue. Animal research has shown that saw palmetto berries may also have anti-inflammatory activity and can help reduce allergic reactions. Saw palmetto has been used traditionally as a diuretic and may also help to stimulate immune response. The herb's effect on enlarged prostate tissue is by far the most clinically important.
This North American plant was first noted for its beneficial and fattening effect the berries had on animals who fed on them after the summer drought. When used in humans they were found to enhance digestion, improve strength and vitality and increase flesh and weight, and were prescribed as a nourishing tonic particularly for those suffering from wasting diseases. The nourishing and tonic effects of saw palmetto were especially observed in the reproductive system, and it is a well-known remedy for atrophy of the testes, low libido, impotence, prostate enlargement and any inflammation in the reproductive tract. Saw palmetto has also been used as a reproductive tonic for women, increasing sexual energy, fertility and increasing milk flow in nursing mothers, and can be prescribed to relieve painful periods, to regulate the menstrual cycle, and for inflammatory conditions such as salpingitis and ovarian pain. Saw palmetto also has an affinity with the urinary system, and can be taken to relieve urinary infections and fluid retention, as well as for incontinence and bed-wetting. Saw palmetto relaxes the nervous system, soothes tension and anxiety, and also has a toning action on the mucous membranes throughout the body, useful for treating colds, catarrh, and sinusitis. Its added expectorant properties make it a good remedy for bronchitis and asthma.
In 1885, Dr. Hale, an American homeopath, observed that during the summer when food was scarce, wild animals ate raw saw palmetto berries and rapidly regained weight. In the 19th century, another American homeopath claimed that if eaten regularly the berries could increase the weight and size of the breasts. Sabal is used to treat enlargement of the prostate gland, with sharp stinging pain in the urethra, difficulty urinating, a cold feeling in the genitals with a lack of libido, weakness, and nervous irritability. It is also given for testicular inflammation. In women, the remedy is helpful for mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue), which may occur from breast-feeding, and for pain and tenderness of swollen breasts before menstruation. It is also given for breasts that become small and shrunken due to a hormonal imbalance. People who need this remedy are afraid of falling asleep.
HABITAT AND CULTIVATION
Saw palmetto is indigenous to North America and can be found growing in sand dunes along the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts from South Carolina to Texas. Saw palmetto is propagated from seed in spring and needs well-drained soil and plenty of sun. The berries are harvested when ripe in autumn, then dried, often with the seeds removed.
Need for treatment - There has been little research into saw palmetto, despite its potential as a treatment for enlarged prostate gland, and its Testosterone action . With the probable presence of steroidal constituents, and an apparent estrogenic action, saw palmetto is a plant that could have significant hormonal actions. Saw palmetto needs to be researched in depth.
Saw Palmetto contains essential oil, fixed oil, sterols, polysaccharides.
HOW MUCH SAW PALMETTO TO TAKE
For early-stage BPH, many people take 320 mg per day of saw palmetto herbal extract in capsules or tablets-which are rich in fatty acids, sterols, and esters. It may take four to six weeks to see results with BPH; if improvement is noted, the saw palmetto can be continued. The powdered dried fruit can also be taken as a tea; since this is weaker than the herbal extract, 5-6 grams may be taken per day. Liquid extracts of whole herb at 5-6 ml per day may also be effective.
SIDE EFFECTS AND CAUTIONS
No significant side effects have been noted in clinical studies with saw palmetto extracts. Saw palmetto extract is not believed to interfere with accurate measuring of prostate-specific antigen-a marker for prostate cancer. Please note that BPH can only be diagnosed by a physician; use of saw palmetto extract for this condition should only occur after a thorough workup and diagnosis by a doctor.
HOW IT WORKS IN THE BODY
As the early settlers discovered, saw palmetto is a tonic which builds and restores body tissue. The sterols have an Testosterone action, which helps to build and maintain weight, so can usefully be given to those who are convalescing or have lost weight through illness or debility. In the reproductive system it has useful applications for both men and women. In men it is given to enhance the sex drive and to treat impotence and infertility. In women it is thought to have an estrogenic action and can be used where this is a cause of disorder in the reproductive system. As a urinary tract tonic saw palmetto is used where there is weakness in the neck of the bladder, and also as a diuretic to improve urinary flow. Saw palmetto has been shown to be effective in treating enlargement of the prostate in men.
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