Many kinds of traditional medicine such as the Native Americans, the Mayans and the Seminoles have been using the extract of saw palmetto, a berry, for various ailments and also as a tonic. But can Saw Palmetto really help with BPH, hair loss, urinary tract infections and many other maladies? Well, let’s take a closer look.
What is saw palmetto extract used for?
While traditionally the fruit of the saw palmetto has been used as a tonic, a natural expectorant, and as for treating urinary and reproductive problems, it is today used for a number of prostate related problems – enlarged prostate, infections of the prostate, prostate cancer and so on.
Saw palmetto extract is also used to treat upper respiratory tract infections, chronic pelvic pain, and migraines. It is also used as a diuretic in some cases. Saw palmetto extract is one of the much advertized treatments for baldness or hair loss.
Not only that, saw palmetto extract is also said to be something of an aphrodisiac to treat sexual dysfunction.
How effective is this alternative medicine?
Studies conducted have found that saw palmetto is most likely to be effective in cases relating to enlarged prostate problems. It is thought that the inner lining of the prostate gland that puts pressure on the tubes that carry urine may help to be shrunk with the help of this medicine. Hence people with enlarged prostate may benefit by not having to use the bathroom as often.
While some studies claim that it takes time for the extract to show perceivable results others claim that it is effective only if it is taken as a complementary medication along with prescription medication.
The effectiveness of saw palmetto extract for treating conditions such as sore throat, coughs, colds, bronchitis, migraines, pelvic pain, baldness and so on is questioned however, and researchers claim that there is insufficient evidence to show that this treatment does actually work.
How safe is saw palmetto extract?
In some cases side effects to this traditional medicine may be noted though it is by and large safe for most people to use. The side effects, when noted are mild – there could be some dizziness, nausea, headache and digestive disturbances. There is also a claim that it causes impotency, but this is an unsubstantiated claim.
It is advisable not to use the saw palmetto extract during pregnancy or breastfeeding since it is seen to impact certain hormones. For the same reason, the extract could decrease efficacy of birth control pills. The extract should also not be used before or after surgery because it could cause problems with blood clotting.