If you’ve ever walked down the herbal supplement aisle at the grocery or drug store, you’ve probably seen a lot of names you don’t recognize. Not only are they unfamiliar, but you have no idea what a person might take them for! One of the most diverse and well-known herbal supplements is Saw Palmetto.
The extract comes from dark purple berries on the plant’s palm fan. This plant can be found in southern California and along the coast of the southern states in the U.S.
A large number of herbs have no scientific research to back their benefit claims up, but that’s not the case with this one. The first documentation of this herb’s benefits in the United States was recorded by Dr. J.B. Read who actually published a paper in the American Journal of Pharmacy. He had discovered that the herb was helpful in relieving coughs, improving digestion, and helping to relax or fall asleep. He wrote that it has remarkable diuretic and sedative properties that should be noted by those in the medical profession.
Europe started their own research in the 1960’s and discovered that men had a marked improvement in their urinary tract after having had problems. The results showed that Saw Palmetto was almost equal to its pharmaceutical counterpart in treating these men. Once researchers understood the berry helps to tone the urethra, the herb became a staple in helping with urinary tract problems.
The herb has anti-inflammatory, mild diuretic, expectorant, antiseptic and sedative properties. People have been known to take it for prostate cancer, chronic bronchitis, migraines, asthma, sore throats, coughs, colds, cancer, stimulating hair growth and to improve muscle tone and build new muscle. Some women even believe that it has been effective for them as a breast enhancer.
Natural health care practitioners like to use the herb to treat things like urinary tract inflammation, respiratory congestion, as a thyroid strengthener and to reduce testicular inflammation. It is also used to help balance metabolism, aid in digestion and stimulate the appetite.
The herb is also used to treat enlarged prostate glands even though it doesn’t reduce them. It helps with the symptoms.
Researchers believe that the herb prevents the changing of testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). They also think that the herb interferes with progesterone and estrogen, hormones thought to be a factor in an enlarged prostate. A controlled clinical trial showed those with an enlarged prostate who were taking the herb showed improvement in their symptoms.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is evaluating Saw Palmetto to be used as a treatment for an enlarged prostate. If it is approved, it would be the first herbal remedy that is licensed to treat a specific condition. That alone is proof that this herb really is good for you!