Saw palmetto is a small palm that grows in the sandy flatlands of the United Stated. It is mainly used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate glands.  Prostate enlargement is caused by an inbalance of male hormones in prostate tissue. Saw palmetto reduces inflammation and swelling within the prostate gland. It also seems to inhibit the absorption of testosterone in the prostate. This makes it helpful for other hormone-related disorders, such as male baldness, acne, under-or-over-developed breasts, hormone imbalances, low libido, and low sperm count. For the female reproductive system, saw palmetto is used to relieve inflammatory conditions of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, help regulate the menstrual cycle and relieve PMS and painful periods. Saw palmetto is also used to treat urinary conditions such as infections, incontinence, fluid retention and bed wetting.

Common Name of the Herb: Saw palmetto

Latin Name: Serenoa repens or Sabal serrulata

Parts Used: berries

Actions: Endrocrine agent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and antiseptic

Preparation and Use: Tea is not the best form, because the saw palmetto oils will not dissolve in water. If you do make a decoction tea, then be sure to keep the lid on to retain the voluble oils.  In tincture form, take 1-2 droppersful of the tincture, three times a day.

Cautions and Limitations of Use:

  • Some people experience stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea or  bad breath when taking saw palmetto. Such gastrointestinal upset can be avoided or reduced by taking it with food. There have also been a few reports of excessive bleeding, so curtail use prior to surgery and avoid saw palmetto if you have bleeding disorders or gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Because saw palmetto may increase blood pressure, avoid if you have high blood pressure or are on blood pressure medications.
  • Because of possible hormonal activity, it is not recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women or people with hormone-sensitive conditions take saw palmetto.
  • Caution for all herbs and foods: Stop using if you experience symptoms of allergy. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. People who are allergic to other foods in the arecaceae family may be allergic to saw palmetto.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications, regarding possible interactions.
  • If in doubt about the safety of any herb, consult a doctor with special knowledge and experience with herbs.

Extra Information:

  • Constituents: Volatile oils, steroids, dextrose, resins, capric acid, palmitic acid, ferulic acid, stearic acid, polysaccharides, and beta-sitosterol
  • Growing the Herb: Saw palmetto germinates from seeds and needs lots of sunlight to grow. The soil should be well drained as well. Spring is the best time to sow the seeds.
  • How to Gather: Harvest the berries in autumn and through mid-winter. De-seed the berries and let dry in the sun.
  • Other English Common Names: American dwarf palm tree, cabbage palm
  • Where it Grows: Sandy flatlands from South Carolina to South Texas
  • How to Identify: Saw palmetto is a small palm that grows two to four feet high. The leaves are palmate and have sawtooth edges, which are sharp. It has white flowers that blossom in the spring and summer. It produces fruits about the size of olives that turn dark blue when ripe.