Saw palmetto is the third most popular herbal supplement in the United States. But before it gained popularity, it was already being used by the Native Americans to prevent hair loss, boost sexual drive and sperm production, and solve urinary tract problems.
Today, it’s commonly used by men as a preventive measure to avoid prostate cancer, while some with benign prostatic hyperplasia swear by its benefits. Even science is saying that these benefits are not unfounded. Here are some facts on saw palmetto:
It blocks 5-reductase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. It has a slew of benefits, but among its prominent side effects are patterns of baldness and acne. When its levels are too high, it can also lead to prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
It slows down the patterns and activities of genes that trigger inflammation.
What you find in the supplements you see at the market are actually extracts taken from the purple berries of the saw palmetto palm, also known as Serenoa Repens. The active ingredients in saw palmetto are fatty acids, flavonols, and plant sterols.
The berries of the saw palmetto also have high molecular weight polysaccharides that reduce inflammation, which we all know are the root of diseases. This is what makes turmeric the best herbal supplement out there because it’s a spice that targets inflammation over anything else.
Saw palmetto doesn’t just target the causes of inflammation, but it also strengthens the immune system by preventing prostate cancer, treating the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), maintains healthy levels of testosterone, treats urinary tract infections, promote hair growth to avoid male-pattern baldness and hair loss, and boosting sexual drive and performance.
Let’s discuss these benefits one by one.
Prevents prostate cancer
Saw palmetto is one of the most commonly used herbs in alternative medicine when it comes to treating prostate cancer. Due to its ability to inhibit the function of 5-alpha-reductase, it also blocks the formation of DHT.
DHT is responsible for prostate enlargement, which, if left unmanaged, can lead to prostate cancer. The most promising thing about saw palmetto for prostate health is that it can block DHT without the side effects that usually come with taking prescription inhibitors.
A study on Proscar and Avodart found that while the DHT was being managed and the risk for prostate cancer was reduced, it affected the men’s sexual desire and it could potentially lead to impotence.
Saw palmetto could not only inhibit DHT, but it can do so without lowering your sexual desire. This is because it regulates your testosterone levels and makes sure that your libido stays healthy.
Regulates testosterone and sexual drive
Now, let’s discuss how it regulates and maintains testosterone levels. A study done over the course of three months found that taking 320 mg of saw palmetto significantly improved the testosterone levels of participants.
Another study found that men who took 80 mg of saw palmetto supplements twice a day for six days had improved testosterone levels compared to the placebo group.
A pilot trial has also shown that saw palmetto increased sexual drive and function among 82 men aged 30 years old and above.
This is the most common form of prostate enlargement, wherein the prostate gland gets enlarged as men grow older. When it becomes too enlarged, the prostate will press too hard against the urethra and lead to urinary problems that can lead to bladder infections or even the formation of stones.
According to the American Urological Association, 50 percent of men over the age of 60 will have BPH, and the risk increases with age – 90 percent of men will have BPH by the age of 85.
Studies show that saw palmetto prevents testosterone from clinging to prostate cells, and in effect, reduces the chances of prostatic enlargement and the multiplication of prostatic cells.
Among the main causes of BPH are excess estrogen or other hormonal changes, weak blood vessels, or a zinc deficiency.
Reduces recovery time post-surgery
Patients who are about to undergo prostate surgery often need a long time to recover, but studies suggest that taking 320 mg of saw palmetto every day for two months prior to the surgery can significantly reduce the time in surgery and the time recovering after it. That means less time at the hospital!
Prevents male-pattern baldness and hair loss
It doesn’t just make sure that your testosterone levels are healthy and that you’re still all-systems-go when it comes to your sexual drive, but it also helps you maintain your crowning glory.
Hair follicles are sensitive to DHT, so an excess in DHT will most likely lead to hair loss. DHT makes the follicles become smaller, inhibiting the body’s ability to produce hair before possibly stopping hair growth altogether.
Before supplementing with saw palmetto supplements, make sure that you first consult with your doctor, especially if you’re already taking prescription medicine.
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