As we grow older, there are some changes that annoy us. It’s more difficult to get back in shape. It’s an ordeal to do some intense physical activity. What’s more, our bodies take more time to heal. As we celebrate our 55th birthday we notice some changes in our urinary habits. We visit the bathroom more often due to that full feeling in our bladder. And then, we have difficulty urinating!
This is quite natural. Our prostrate was as big as a pea at birth but has grown to the size of a walnut after 50 plus years. That explains those bladder symptoms. Being men, we take that matter in our hands. We avoid the doctor like the plague. Of course, we aren’t sick. We assure ourselves that it’s just a minor setback, until we can’t live with it and seek our doctor who says it’s just a simple case of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH).
Now here come saw palmetto which we think is some sort of savior for our condition. Scientifically named Serenoa repens, it’s also called dwarf palm, shrub palmetto or saw palmetto berry extract.
It is a low growing palm tree found in the Caribbean. In the USA, it grows abundantly at the Southeastern seaboard such as Florida. The tree grows six to ten feet tall and bear berries. The berries are very popular as herbal remedies.
The Native American ate the berries as a tonic to nourish the body, stimulate appetite and promote weight gain. They also utilized it for urinary tract infections; alleviate difficulty in urination and frequent night time urination.
In Germany, saw palmetto is approved for prostatic complaints and irritable bladder. It’s well used in Europe to relieve symptoms associated with BPH. Although it isn’t approved in the USA, it’s the most popular herbal treatment for this condition.
21 clinical trials showed that the effects of saw palmetto were very similar to the prescription drug finasteride (brand name – Proscar) and has fewer side effects such as hypotension. This seems like good news for BPH sufferers.
Nevertheless, when saw palmetto was tested alone or as mono-therapy for BPH, the results showed no significant differences with that of a placebo.
However, if the latest results are true, then saw palmetto should be reviewed by the FDA. According to Mayo clinic, saw palmetto was listed in the US pharmacopeia from 1906 to 1917 and in the National Formulary from 1926 to 1950.
How it works
Studies haven’t discovered yet how saw palmetto works. It’s hypothesized that it could interfere with steroid growth hormone. It prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosgterone. Further, it possesses a direct inhibitory effect on androgen receptors and anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it slows prostate growth. Further studies should be conducted to confirm these effects.
If we’re self-medicating we have to be very careful. BPH isn’t prostate cancer. Some symptoms of BPH can be attributed to prostate cancer. It’s still best to see our doctor. Definitely, there are no proof that saw palmetto effects prostate cancer.
If our symptoms are alleviated with daily doses of saw palmetto, by all means let’s continue with it. It has no known adverse reactions. But, it’s important to inform our doctor. We should be warned that it is not proven on prostate cancer.
If we have prostate cancer, let’s stick to our standard cancer regimen. Let’s continue with our diet of 5 to 10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Let’s not forget to prioritize our daily exercise regimen of 30 minutes. Exercise can help burn our visceral fat and remove its pressure on our bladders. We can actually be relieved with less fat around our middle. So, let’s get on with it.