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Saw Palmetto


Scientific Names Saw Palmetto

Serenoa serrulata L.

Palm family


Common Names

Dwarf palmetto

Pan palm


Parts Usually Used


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Saw palmetto is a low, shrubby plant grows to 6 feet; the trunk or rootstock remains below the ground, producing palmate, green to white-coated leaves on saw-toothed petioles. Has horizontal creeping stems above ground. Leaves fanlike, with sword-shaped leaf blades radiating from a central point. Flowers are whitish green, with 3-5 petals; May to July. The olive-like, dark-purple to black fleshy berries, 1 inch long, surrounding one large seed, grow in bunches or clusters, ripening from October to December.a related plant, (Salvia miltiorrhiza), called Dan shen, is used as a tonic herb.

Medicinal Properties

Antiseptic, cardiac, diuretic, expectorant, sedative, tonic

Biochemical Information

Essential oil, fatty oil, with capric, caprylic and lauric acids, fatty acids, carotene, tannin, sitosterol invert sugar, estrogenic substance.

What the Science Says

Several small studies suggest that saw palmetto may be effective for treating BPH symptoms. However, an NCCAM-cofunded study in 369 older men demonstrated that saw palmetto extract administered at up to three times the standard daily dose (320 mg) did not reduce the urinary symptoms associated with BPH more than placebo. In addition, a 2009 review of the research concluded that saw palmetto has not been shown to be more effective than placebo for this use. • In 2006, a large NIH-funded study of 225 men with moderate-to-severe BPH found no improvement with 320 mg saw palmetto daily for 1 year versus placebo. • 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. • An NCCAM-funded study is looking at the effects of saw palmetto extract on prostate cancer cells.


The berries are particularly useful for conditions associated with colds, hayfever, asthma, and bronchitis. Catarrhal problems and mucous congestion respond to a tea made from the dried berries. The tea has also been recommended as a general tonic to build strength during convalescence from illness. Used for colds, coughs, inflammations, coughs, irritated mucous membranes, tickling feeling in the throat, migraine. A suppository of the powdered fruits in cocoa butter was used as a uterine and vaginal tonic. Saw palmetto is considered by some to have aphrodisiac powers. Said to improve prostate health (combined with echinacea). Used to treat "honeymoon cystitis" in females. Although the FDA does not recognize this herb as an effective drug, in Germany it is sold over-the-counter as a treatment for benign prostate problems. Benign prostate enlargement can cause excessive urination in men, especially annoying at night.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.