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NCCIH Clinical Digest

for health professionals

Spotlight on Saw Palmetto

July 2019
saw palmetto
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Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm tree native to the southeastern United States. Currently, saw palmetto is used as a dietary supplement for urinary symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), as well as for chronic pelvic pain, decreased sex drive, migraine, hair loss, and other conditions. According to a 2017 systematic review of 22 studies, saw palmetto was one of the most frequently used herbal supplement. Rigorous studies have evaluated saw palmetto for urinary tract symptoms associated with BPH, but results of studies do not support using saw palmetto for BPH, or for any other health condition.

This issue of the Digest provides information on what the science says about saw palmetto for BPH.

What the Science Says: 
Spotlight on Saw Palmetto

Condition and Summary of Current Research

Although several small studies have suggested modest benefit of saw palmetto for treating symptoms of BPH, a large study evaluating high doses of saw palmetto and a Cochrane review found that saw palmetto was not more effective than placebo for treatment of urinary symptoms related to BPH. A single randomized controlled trial showed combination therapy of saw palmetto plus lycopene, selenium, and tamsulosin was more effective than single therapies alone.

Read more about saw palmetto for BPH

Information for Your Patients

NCCIH Clinical Digest is a service of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NIH, DHHS. NCCIH Clinical Digest, a monthly e-newsletter, offers evidence-based information on complementary health approaches, including scientific literature searches, summaries of NCCIH-funded research, fact sheets for patients, and more.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is dedicated to exploring complementary health products and practices in the context of rigorous science, training complementary health researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll-free at 1-888-644-6226, or visit the NCCIH website at NCCIH is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.


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