What Is Saw Palmetto?
Saw palmetto is a fan palm that is native to North America, primarily located near the Eastern Gulf coasts. The scientific name of this unusual plant is Serenoa repens, and its unique characteristics make it the sole species found within the Serenoa genus. It is an extremely hardy and long-lived plant, with some saw palmetto plants living for over 700 years. The maximum height of this palm is only 10 feet, and they tend to grow in large bunches or clumps, typically among the roots of palm woods.
The petiole of the plant is covered with sharp teeth or spines, which can break the skin, giving the plant its common name. The fruit, however, is the most valuable part of this plant, as it is a food source for both humans and animals. The traditional uses of this drupe fruit, which is reddish-brown or black in color, vary greatly, as the unique composition of its organic compounds, make it effective for treating a number of diverse health conditions.
The fruit can be eaten in its natural berry form but saw palmetto extract, which comes from the fruit, can also be consumed in capsule, tincture, or tablet forms. There is a high concentration of sterols and fatty acids in saw palmetto extract, which is where most of its health benefits come from. The powerful compounds in saw palmetto can complicate the chemical pathways of other medications, so be sure to confer with a medical professional before beginning treatment with herbal supplements of this unusual plant.
Benefits Of Saw Palmetto & Its Extract
Now, let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of saw palmetto.
Prevents Prostate Cancer
One of the leading causes of mortality for men is prostate cancer. This form of cancer is particularly dangerous because it is associated with prostate enlargement, something that naturally happens as men age. Saw palmetto extract can reduce prostate enlargement by inhibiting dihydrotestosterone, which stimulates cellular reproduction in the prostate. This lowers the chances of developing prostate cancer, eliminating painful urination and the discomfort that accompanies prostate issues. Saw palmetto is also known to speed healing and reduce bleeding in men undergoing prostate surgery.
Again, due to saw palmetto’s hormonal impact on the body, some men have begun using saw palmetto to stimulate hair growth as they age. Studies have shown a negative correlation between saw palmetto use and male-pattern baldness symptoms, so if your hair is beginning to thin out, consider some supplementation to wind back the clock.
Although there are some benefits of saw palmetto for women, the most highly researched and praised health benefits are for men. In terms of impotence, saw palmetto extract has long been known as a herbal treatment for impotence. The exact pathway that saw palmetto takes in terms of sexual organs and hormones is still somewhat unclear, but the research has definitely piled up showing that it can boost your sexual performance and increase virility.
Saw palmetto has been known to increase sex drive and libido in both women and men. Although the hormonal impact of saw palmetto primarily affects testosterone pathways, as a natural aphrodisiac, women can also get a bit more pep in their intimate steps with saw palmetto supplementation.
The urinary organs can weaken with age, which is why incontinence is much more common in the elderly population. Research suggests that saw palmetto has strong chemical components that can strengthen urinary organs to prevent incontinence, and also improve the health of the kidneys. If you are at risk of developing kidney stones or already suffer from them, saw palmetto supplementation can be a great way to prevent future issues or treat current problems.
Increases Muscle Mass
One of the more recent developments in the saw palmetto debate is its impact on muscle mass. Many bodybuilders and people engaged in serious gym time have turned to saw palmetto as a workout supplement. Although research into saw palmetto’s impact on muscle mass and development is still ongoing, early reports do show a correlation between the two. It makes sense, given saw palmetto’s impact on testosterone in the body, which is responsible for muscle mass increase. But it should only be taken in moderation.
This is certainly not the most popular use of saw palmetto extract or supplements, but they have been known to generally boost the immune system, particularly for mild conditions such as colds, coughs, and sore throats. Headaches and migraine sufferers have also claimed that saw palmetto works as an anti-inflammatory agent and reduces pain and discomfort. This is in line with saw palmetto’s other anti-inflammatory activities in the body, primarily in the urinary tract and gut.
Word of Caution
Saw palmetto appears to be very beneficial for overall health and wellness, particularly in terms of male sexual and reproductive health, but it can also negatively interact with blood thinners and prostate medication, so always consult with your doctor before adding these supplements to your daily or weekly regimen. Side effects of saw palmetto may include dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.