Generic Name: saw palmetto (SAW pal MET toe)
Brand Name: Saw Palmetto, Prostate SR
Medically reviewed on August 15, 2017
What is saw palmetto?
Saw palmetto comes from a palm-like plant that grows in the southeast United States. The berries of this plant are used to make the capsule form of saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is also known as American Dwarf Palm Tree, Baies du Palmier Scie, Cabbage Palm, Chou Palmiste, Ju-Zhong, Palma Enana Americana, Palmier Nain, Palmier Scie, Sabal, Serenoa, and other names.
Saw palmetto blocks certain effects of certain hormones in the body and also has some anti-inflammatory actions.
Saw palmetto has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in preventing complications from prostate surgery (such as blood loss or problems during surgery) and reducing the time spent in surgery and in the hospital after surgery.
Saw palmetto has been used to treat symptoms of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH), such as increased night-time urination or decreased urinary flow. However, research has shown that saw palmetto may not be effective in treating this condition.
Other uses not proven with research have included treating sore throat, cough, cold symptoms, asthma, bronchitis, migraine headache, male-pattern baldness, chronic pelvic pain and prostate swelling, bladder problems, prostate cancer, and other conditions.
It is not certain whether saw palmetto is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Saw palmetto should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.
Saw palmetto is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.
Saw palmetto may also be used for other purposes not listed in this product guide.
Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
Before taking this medicine
Before using saw palmetto, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use saw palmetto if you have certain medical conditions., such as:
Saw palmetto is a hormone and is not likely to be safe to use during pregnancy. Do not use saw palmetto if you are pregnant.
Saw palmetto may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.
How should I take saw palmetto?
When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.
If you choose to use saw palmetto, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.
Saw palmetto may be taken with food if it upsets your stomach.
Do not use different forms (capsules, tablets, tinctures, topical forms, etc) of saw palmetto at the same time without medical advice. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.
Saw palmetto can affect blood-clotting and may increase your risk of bleeding. If you need surgery, dental work, or a medical procedure, stop taking saw palmetto at least 2 weeks ahead of time.
Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with saw palmetto does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra saw palmetto to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking saw palmetto?
Avoid using saw palmetto together with other herbal/health supplements that can also affect blood-clotting. This includes angelica (dong quai), capsicum, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, horse chestnut, panax ginseng, poplar, red clover, turmeric, vitamin E, and willow.
Saw palmetto side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Although not all side effects are known, saw palmetto is thought to be likely safe for most people.
Stop using saw palmetto and call your healthcare provider at once if you have:
easy bruising or bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums);
any bleeding that will not stop;
signs of stomach bleeding--bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
Common side effects may include:
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect saw palmetto?
Do not take saw palmetto without medical advice if you are using any of the following medications:
birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy;
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with saw palmetto, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.
- Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before using any herbal/health supplement. Whether you are treated by a medical doctor or a practitioner trained in the use of natural medicines/supplements, make sure all your healthcare providers know about all of your medical conditions and treatments.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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More about saw palmetto
- Saw palmetto Side Effects
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- Drug class: herbal products