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September 29, 2011

Saw Palmetto: Will It Help You Pee?

Doctor, Patient and Saw PalmettoRecent study on Saw Palmetto was published today with results that might shock some and confirm what others have suspected. The study was a multi-center study at some very prestigious Universities  with over a thousand men, mean age of 61.  After a 20 years in practice I can assure you that there are many men who believe in Saw Palmetto and wouldn’t trade it for another form of BPH treatment.

There are also numerous individuals who have had little to no improvement with its use and are on to other more traditional forms of treatment. There have been several studies done in the last 10 years with conflicting results. Saw Palmetto continues to be one of the most popular supplements, having little to no side effects.

Origin of Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto has a long history of use for prostate and voiding issues. Once used by medicine men as a treatment for voiding problems we continue to use this supplement today. The supplement is an extract from the fruit of Serenoa Repens. There are several ways to extract the Saw Palmetto from the fruit, in this study the extraction method was the ethanolic method as opposed to the carbon dioxide method. This form is felt to give a better product but it will need to be looked into in further studies.

Study Results

In the last ten years there have been multiple studies on the effectiveness of Saw Palmetto. One study done in 2003 was short only 12 weeks with questionable results the next study was 2009, a 12 month study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Both of these studies were certainly not felt to have definitive results hence this study was initiated. The current study has over 1,000 men who had flow rates and symptom scores that were collected pre and post study. It was  a double-blind, multi-center, placebo controlled study. The Saw Palmetto was from one compounder in Germany, extraction was the ethanolic method.

At the completion of the study there was no significant differences in the two groups as related to  flow rate and symptom score. The study utilized an increasing dosage of Saw Palmetto going from a usual dose to  three times that dose and again there were no significant improvements in symptom scores or flow rates.

What Does it Mean to Patients

Patients who are taking Saw palmetto currently with good results should continue doing so. There are no significant side effects with this supplement and several studies have shown a decrease in nocturia. Nothing like a good nights rest. The one question that is unanswered is the quality of the Saw Palmetto used and if the extraction method produces the best end product. We know that supplements are not all created equal, that is why so many of us use dependable compounders that are FDA approved.

Patients who are not taking Saw Palmetto currently and want to try it should find a reputable compounder and give it a good 2-3 moth trial. The other forms of treatment while safe are associated with side effects some which are severe. We have recently seen an article right here at livelongstayyoung.com reporting an increase risk of poorly differentiated cancer with 5 alpha reductase inhibitors not to mention impotence. Surgery, even in the best hands, has known complications.

The next study that will need to be done will be comparing different Saw Palmetto compounds extracted in several different ways and from several compounders. Then and only then, will we have the answer we are looking for. Now excuse me, I have to pee.

See related articles.

“Testosterone Causes Prostate Cancer and the World is Flat”

“PSA and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force”

“BPH Drugs and Prostate Cancer”




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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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