Saw Palmetto is an old American tonic, dating back to the Maya Indians or even further. The Seminole Indians used the ground up seeds for food, they believed the fruits had special health benefits. Saw Palmetto can be found from Florida to South Carolina and around into Texas. The plant is found in large colonies growing in sandy soil and reaches a height of six to ten feet. It is a member of the palm family and produces dusky red to brownish black berries. John Lloyd, a famous early American medical botanist, noticed that the animals feeding on the fruit of the plant grew sleek and fat. He found the effect of the berries on humans to stimulate appetite, provide excellent nutrition, and strengthens the musculo-skeletal system.
By far the most common medicinal use of Saw Palmetto today is treating a condition in males know as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a nonmalignant enlargement of the prostate gland. It can occur in men as young as 40, but usually occurs after 50 with an incidence of 50 to 60 percent in men 40 to 59. Enlargement of the prostate leads to a narrowing of the urethra (the bladder outlet), which is characterized by increased urinary frequency, reduced force and caliber of urination, awakening at night to empty the bladder and, if left untreated, uremia (accumulation of urine toxins in blood). Often times surgical intervention to remove the prostate is necessary to treat BPH. Other than surgery the only other medical treatment for BPH is the prescription drug Proscar (finasteride). In head to head studies with Proscar, Saw Palmetto proved equally as effective with fewer side effects. One study resulted in a 38 percent increase in urine flow in 3 months using Saw palmetto versus a 16 percent increase in urine flow in 12 months using Proscar. Nightly trips to the bathroom were reduced by almost half. Saw Palmetto also has anti-estrogenic and anti-inflammatory effects on the prostate that Proscar does not. Studies from France indicate that Saw Palmetto inhibits the production of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which in turn reduces the chances of prostate enlargement.
As a nutritive tonic, Saw Palmetto functions to increase the size and secreting ability of the mammary glands, decreasing ovarian and uterine irritability. It is recommended for all wasting diseases because it has an effect on the glandular tissues.
Some other uses are for head colds, irritated mucus membranes in the throat, nose and air passages, and chronic bronchitis associated with asthma. Other uses have been as a diuretic, expectorant, sedative and to treat impotence and frigidity.
So the next time you see a large group of Palmettos, think of the good that the berries can do for your health and the health of others. I wish you all good health….