Tag: Side Effects

Saw Palmetto Side Effects

Saw Palmetto Side Effects

If you’re thinking of trying Saw Palmetto you should be aware of any potential side effects. Many claim that there are no significant side effects from Saw Palmetto other than perhaps a mild stomach ache. However, there are some precautions you should take and one particular consequence that you should definitely be aware of.

Saw Palmetto berries have alpha-adrenergic blocking activity and may alter the effects of the following medications: prazosin, terazosin, doxazosin mesylate, tamsulosin.

Saw Palmetto may also have an additive effect if it is taken with anti-androgen drugs that reduce the levels of male sex hormones, such as finasteride (Prosca, Propecia) or flutamide (Eulexin).

It is remotely possible that it could interfere with birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy in women as well. If you’re taking any of these drugs, check with your doctor or naturopathic physician before taking saw palmetto.

Now, another important, but little known, possible consequence of taking Saw Palmetto is its affect on a PSA test. The PSA or prostate-specific antigen test is used for early detection of prostate cancer. Some doctors have warned that Saw Palmetto may mask PSA levels and thereby reduce the ability of the test to detect prostate cancer. You can find that warning HERE.

Some studies have shown that Saw Palmetto doesn’t seem to have a significant effect upon PSA levels but to be on the safe side you should definitely tell your doctor if you are taking Saw Palmetto so that they will be aware of any possible influence it may have on your PSA test.


Saw Palmetto BPH and the Prostate

Saw Palmetto BPH and the Prostate

Is Saw Palmetto effective at reducing symptoms of an enlarged prostate?

Well, a couple of large studies have shown that it is. One project reviewed 21 trials including over 3,000 men aged 40-88 years old. Each subject had moderate BPH symptoms. In 13 of the studies that utilized BPH scores, it was shown to not only improve those scores but improve individual symptoms and flow measures more than the placebo. 12 of the studies also showed that it reduced Nocturia, the need to get up during the night in order to urinate, by 25% compared with the placebo.

Now, two of the studies compared Saw Palmetto with drug Finasteride. Finasteride is marketed under a number of names including:

  • Proscar
  • Propecia
  • Fincar
  • Finpecia
  • Finax
  • Finast
  • Finara
  • Finalo
  • Prosteride
  • Gefina
  • Finasterid IVAX

The studies showed that Saw Palmetto and Finasteride had similar positive effects on urinary symptom scores and peak urine flow and that the adverse side effects of Saw Palmetto were comparable to the effects of the placebo which were mild and infrequent.

Wilt T, Ishani A, MacDonald R. Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002;3:CD001423.

Another study comparable to the one mentioned above found similar evidence of the effectiveness of Saw Palmetto.

Gerber GS, Kuznetsov D, Johnson BC, Burstein JD. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of saw palmetto in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Urology 2001;58:960-4.

Most of the studies utilized a dosage of 320 milligrams a day in either a single or split dose but there is no general consensus as to what the optimal dose really is. Also, there seems to be no real standardization of Saw Palmetto products in the U.S. So one product may not necessarily be comparable to another. Be sure to check out our page on Saw Palmetto Side Effects, contraindications, interactions and other cautions. Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplements.

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