Introduction to Herbal Supplements
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Botanical Name: Serenoa repens, synonyms Serenoa serrulata, Sabal serrulata

Plant Family: Arecaceae/Palmaceae

Synonyms: American Dwarf Palm Tree, Cabbage Palm, Ju-Zhong, Palmier Nain, Sabal, Sabal Fructus, Saw Palmetto Berry.


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Description
Constituents/Composition
Parts
Clinical Pharmacology
Medicinal Uses/Indications
Dosage and Administration
Adverse Reactions
Contraindications
Warnings and Precautions
Interactions and Depletions
How Supplied

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Description

Saw palmetto has been used for a long time. Some of the recorded uses of this plant go back to the Mayan Indians who employed the plant as a tonic. In the first half of the twentieth century Saw palmetto was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary.

Saw palmetto can be found in combination with several herbs in the combination (PC-SPECS) used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatic cancer.

Historically, saw palmetto has been used to increase breast size in women and to enhance sexual vigor. Some other uses include treatment of colds, coughs, asthma and bronchitis.

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Constituents/Composition

  • Primary constituent is n-hexane lipidosterolic extract of Serenoa repens (LSESR)
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    Parts Used/Pharmaceutical Designation

    Berry (ripe fruit) of the American dwarf palm containing 1.5% of an oil is used medicinally.

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    Clinical Pharmacology

    Saw palmetto appears to inhibit 5 alpha reductase, which is an enzyme responsible for conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Inhibition of such conversion prevents further prostate growth. Saw palmetto specifically affects the growth of inner prostatic epithelium. It also might slow cell proliferation by inhibiting fibroblast growth factor as well as epidermal growth factor. Other reasons for benign prostatic hypertrophy include inflammation of the gland. Saw palmetto appears to inhibit lipoxygenase and cyclo-oxygenase, mediators involved in the inflammatory process. Additional possible beneficial actions of saw palmetto include its antiestrogenic, antispasmodic and alpha-adrenergic inhibitory properties.

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    Medicinal Uses/Indications

  • Relief of symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
  • Relief of urination difficulties associated with BPH
  • Increase in sperm production
  • Increase in breast size
  • Mild diuretic
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    Dosage and Administration

    Recommended dosages 160 mg twice a day of a 10:1 standardized lipophilic berry extract containing 85-95% fatty acids and sterols. A minimum treatment time of 30 days is required for therapeutic benefits.

    A tea prepared from dried berries should be taken three times daily. The primary concern with taking this dose form (hydrophillic preparation) is that it probably does not contain proper amount of active substance.

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    Adverse Reactions

  • Cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea.
  • Dizziness
  • Rare cases - cholestatic hepatitis, decreased ejaculatory volume
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    Contraindications

  • Contraindicated for pregnant and nursing women due to antiandrogenic and estrogenic activity.
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    Warnings and Precautions

    Pregnancy and Nursing Mothers
  • Avoid in pregnancy and lactation
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    Interactions and Depletions

  • Oral contraceptives and Hormone therapy -- theoretical interference with saw palmetto
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    How Supplied

    Saw palmetto is available in several different forms -- tablets, capsules, teas, berries (fresh or dried), and liquid extract.

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    References


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