Is Saw Palmetto Effective on Fertility?

For thousands of years, herbal medicine was the only cure man learned to use until the advent of scientific-based laboratory medicines. Today, only a handful of these herbs are regulated by the US FDA largely because of the lack of scientific evidence to support age-old claims about most herbs.

One of the herbs to get a partial nod from science is saw palmetto. The original uses of saw palmetto dates back many centuries ago to the Native Americans who considered its fruits a staple and treatment of diseases associated with the bladder and urinary tract. Clinical trials, including specially controlled double-blinded trials, on saw palmetto began flourishing in the mid-1980’s. Many European countries like Germany, Austria, Ireland, etc. are accepting saw palmetto as treatment for symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition of an enlarged prostate affecting 50-60% of men above 50 years.

Saw palmetto for fertility

Saw palmetto grows in southeastern United States. Its popularity in treating symptoms of BPH can be attributed to its active constituents concentrated in its berries, which includes essential fatty acids (lauric acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid, and oleic acid) and phytosterols (or plant sterols). Whilst some studies agree with centuries-old tradition, how saw palmetto works is yet to be explained. Aside from its so-claimed effectiveness in treating symptomatic BPH, patients having fertility problems are finding an alternative out of saw palmetto for fertility.

The use of herbs particularly saw palmetto for fertility has been in practice for hundreds of years. However, clinical trials on saw palmetto are confined only to BPH. Saw palmetto seemingly do not set off adverse side effects although gastrointestinal distress was reported in patients taking 320mg daily in divided doses for at least 6 weeks. This mild reaction to saw palmetto can be alleviated when taking food along. For the purpose of comparison, not all clinical trials favor admonitions for saw palmetto. A 2006 study co-funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) on 225 men with moderate to severe BPH, who took 160mg twice daily for one year, reported no significant improvement in their conditions.

Consumers must be given stern warning on the use of herbs in general. Herbs like saw palmetto are potent so that it’s important to discuss this matter with a medical practitioner. Moreover, patients wanting to lift the odds of becoming fertile are better off seeking a physician’s advice than resorting to saw palmetto for fertility.

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