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Saw palmetto is a small palm tree native to the eastern United States. Its fruit was used medicinally by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
How is this product usually 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.
For adults 18 and over, saw palmetto should be taken 1 g to 4 g of dried fruit per day. An alternative recommended dosage is 100 mg to 400 mg of liposterolic extract of dried fruit standardized to 70% to 95% fatty acids, per day. In both types of dosages saw palmetto should be taken with food to prevent stomach pain.
Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What is this product used for?
Saw palmetto is used mainly for urinary symptoms (e.g., incomplete voiding, frequent urination) associated with mild-to-moderate benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). People with BPH have an enlarged prostate gland. The majority of clinical studies researching saw palmetto have used liposterolic extracts of the berry which contain 80% to 95% free fatty acids.
Saw palmetto may be ineffective in treating the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). However, saw palmetto may be effective at improving the results of transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) surgery.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
Saw palmetto appears to be well-tolerated by most users. Side effects include stomach discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, and headache. Decreased libido and runny nose have also been reported.
Saw palmetto may interact with the following medications:
- anticoagulants (e.g., apixaban, warfarin)
- antiplatelet drugs (e.g., acetylsalicylic acid [ASA], clopidogrel)
- contraceptive drugs
Stop taking saw palmetto at least 2 weeks before elective surgery to avoid excessive bleeding.
Consult your health care provider before using saw palmetto to ensure that your symptoms are not signs of prostate cancer.
People who are pregnant or breast-feeding should not use saw palmetto.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.
- Health Canada. Natural Health Product Ingredients Database. Saw Palmetto. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=157&lang=eng.
- Saw Palmetto (monograph). Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
- Saw Palmetto Liposterolic Extracts Monograph. Health Canada. https://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=saw.palmetto.extrait.liposterolique&lang=eng
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