Saw palmetto is a supplement that men have used for hundreds of years to help with their prostate and urinary symptoms. It is also used in modern times in both the U.S. and Europe to help with urinary symptoms most commonly associated with enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Men with prostatitis sometimes experience these same urinary symptoms. Saw palmetto comes from the American dwarf palm tree and contains fatty acids and sterols such as beta-sitosterol. When using saw palmetto for prostatitis treatment, it works best when combined with other prostate supplements.
Saw Palmetto for Prostatitis Treatment — Does It Work?
Saw palmetto is a Tier 2 supplement for prostatitis. That means it has significant clinical studies and research behind it. Studies show that saw palmetto works best for prostatitis when combined with other prostate supplements such as stinging nettle root extract, quercetin, and curcumin. Using saw palmetto alone has some mixed results.
This supplement helps with pain and inflammation associated with prostatitis and has even been shown to be more effective than pharmaceutical drugs for treating pain and providing mild to moderate improvement in urinary symptoms associated with both prostaititis and BPH. It seems to reduce nighttime urination. The beta-sitosterol in saw palmetto has also been shown to decreases level of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone, which is linked to BPH.
Various studies have looked at the effectiveness of saw palmetto for prostatitis and urinary symptoms including:
- A March 2010 study on saw palmetto for prostate health showed that saw palmetto helped more than 100 patients with pain and discomfort associated with prostatitis.
- One group of prostatitis patients in a study took antibiotics, while another group took antibiotics along with a prostate formulation that contained saw palmetto, curcumin, quercetin and several other natural ingredients. Nearly 90% of patients who took the supplement said their symptoms were gone after one month, compared to 27% of the men who took only the antibiotic. None of the men in the supplement group had recurrence of prostatitis during the six months that followed. Patients who did not use the supplement experienced persistent problems.
- A study compared using saw palmetto against the drug Flomax (tamsulosin) in patients with chronic prostatitis. The researchers randomly assigned 157 men to take either 160 mg of saw palmetto twice daily or 0.4 mg of Flomax for six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, men in both groups showed similar progress in Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (CPSI) scores, but men who took saw palmetto showed a larger decline in their pain scores. Saw palmetto reportedly does not cause negative sexual side effects that are linked to Flomax.
- An Egyptian study researched using pygeum with saw palmetto along with alpha blockers for CPPS symptoms. In the study, 35 men took 2 mg Cardura (doxazosin), an alpha blocker, daily. Another group of 35 took a standard dose of pygeum and saw palmetto. A third group took the drug/supplement combination, and a fourth group took a placebo. Treatment last two months. All the men filled out NIH-CPSI questionnaires before and after treatment. The alpha blocker group’s symptoms improved by 66.8%; the supplement group improved by 58.4%; and the combination therapy group improved by 72.2%. The combination therapy group also scored highest in urinary symptom scores and quality of life. This study shows how natural supplements can work well when used in combination with conventional treatments.
- Another study compared the use of saw palmetto with the drug Proscar (finasteride). It found that saw palmetto effectively inhibited 5-alpha-reductase and that its effect was similar to Proscar in reducing prostate size without the risk of side effects associated with Proscar.
- A 2011 study involving 120 men was conducted on the long-term effectiveness of using saw palmetto in men with BPH-related urinary tract symptoms. Men with mild to moderate urinary tract symptoms were given 320 mg of ethanolic extract of saw palmetto daily for two years. At the end of the study, patients displayed progress in International Prostate Symptom Scores (5.5 points), quality of life, Qmax, International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF; 6.4 points), and a decrease in residual urinary amount (the ability to fully empty your bladder). Prostate volume (size) lessened from a mean of 39.8 ml to 36 ml. The study stated long-term therapy with 320 mg of saw palmetto extract is successful in decreasing urinary obstruction, improving lower urinary tract symptoms, and increasing quality of life, including better sexual function.
Uses and Side Effects of Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is best absorbed as a supplement, generally taken at a dose of 320 mg daily of standardized extract. Based on the clinical research and studies, saw palmetto is most effective when taken with quercetin, stinging nettle, and curcumin (turmeric). Saw palmetto’s side effects may include back pain or headache. Some men may experience erectile difficulties. Saw palmetto may interact with some medications such as blood thinners and hormone replacement therapies.
References for Saw Palmetto for Prostatitis Treatment:
Anceschi R et al. Serenoa repens (Permixon) reduces intra- and postoperative complications of surgical treatments of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Minerva Urol Nefrol 2010 Sep; 62(3): 219-23.
Cai T et al. Serenoa repens, curcumin and quercetin extracts are able to improve the efficacy of prulifloxacin in bacterial prostatitis patients: results from a prospective randomized study. Int J Antimicrob Agents 2009 Jun; 33(6): 549-53.
Kravchick SG et al at the 27th Annual European Association of Urology Congress, February 24-28, 2012, Paris, France.
Mantovani F. Serenoa repens in benign prostatic hypertrophy: analysis of 2 Italian studies. Minerva Urol Nefrol 2010 Dec; 62(4): 335-40.
Sinescu I et al. Long-term efficacy of serenoa repens treatment in patients with mild and moderate symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urol Int 2011; 86(3): 284-49.
Tacklind J et al. Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009 Apr 15; (2): CD001423.