Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a popular herb used in holistic medicine to treat issues with the prostate gland. The plant is consumed in liquid, tablet or oil form to combat a condition known as BPH or benign prostate hyperplasia. BPH is one of the main causes of urinary tract and bladder ailments in older men. Simply put, when the prostate gland enlarges, it becomes harder to pass urine and the bladder has a more difficult time emptying itself. These symptoms when left unchecked will worsen over time. This article will discuss whether saw palmetto can be used to alleviate the symptoms brought on by problems with the prostate gland.
Signs of Prostate Problems
The prostate gland, based on its location, is directly connected to cancers involving the urinary tract, bladder and reproductive organs. Symptoms of a problem with the gland go beyond the ability to pass urine without pain. The stream will be slower and weaker, there may be the presence of blood in the urine, the person may experience erectile dysfunction, and there will be a pain in both the spine and hips due to inflammation from infection.
Addressing the Symptoms of Enlarged Prostate Gland
The answer is that studies have been limited and results mixed. In some instances, saw palmetto did attack and kill cancerous cells. In other cases, there seemed to be no correlation between use of the herb and recovery from illnesses involving the urinary tract or bladder.
Saw palmetto alone does successfully decrease the size of an enlarged prostate gland, and when combined with other herbs like curcumin and Echinacea the effectiveness may increase. Using the plant regularly can improve the flow of urine, decrease both the frequency and sudden need to urinate, lessen the discomfort of painful urination and improve the ability to urinate. The recommended daily dose of saw palmetto is 320 mg. It should be noted that use of saw palmetto will not yield results immediately. On average, it takes one to two months for the herb to take effect. It is important to clarify that the use of saw palmetto by itself or in combination with other herbs does not prevent cancer.
Use of Saw Palmetto in Preparation for Surgery
There are benefits for taking saw palmetto in preparation for surgery. Patients who take the daily recommended doses for two months prior to surgery may lessen the time in the operating room, minimize problems during the operation, decrease the loss of blood during the procedure, and shorten the recovery time and hospital stay.
Saw Palmetto to Reduce Swelling
Two of the problems associated with BPH are swelling of the gland and chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Saw palmetto can function as an anti-inflammatory that works to decrease swelling that produces the pain. Again, saw palmetto by itself is not very effective in addressing the problem. But in combination with other herbs, like selenium and lycopene, some people experienced relief of pain from inflammation produced by an infection in the gland. In terms of addressing the actual infection, the use of saw palmetto increases the effectiveness of commonly prescribed antibiotics for urinary tract and bladder infections, like Sparfloxacin or Prulifloxacin.
Alleviating the Problems of Andropause
On a related note, andropause or male menopause involves a decrease in testosterone that leads to issues like erectile dysfunction. The condition is common in men being treated for prostate cancer using a therapy called “hormonal ablation,” which in general terms attempts to decrease the levels of male hormones (androgens) in the system and prevent them from influencing prostate cancer cells.
Saw palmetto is used as a testosterone booster and is most effective when ingested in food in oil or powder form. The herb has been proven successful in deterring the body from creating 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme responsible for destroying testosterone in men. As a result, saw palmetto can help older men circumvent significant drops in testosterone and its side effects. Provided the saw palmetto supplement is high-quality, this herb can help men stay in better physical condition, increase energy levels, and combat feelings of lethargy and depression associated with low testosterone.