Individuals who are looking to boost testosterone naturally may use Saw Palmetto extract.
It is an ancient herb that was used to treat sleep and sexual problems, especially prostate issues and infertility.
Today, it is mostly used to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Also, Saw Palmetto has been seen to affect testosterone.
Yet, there is conflicting information on the association between saw palmetto and testosterone.
Let’s differentiate between facts and myths.
What is Saw Palmetto?
Saw Palmetto is a tree, native to south-east North America, whose berries were used to treat urinary tract problems, boost libido, and stimulate sperm production in the ancient years.
It is referred to as the American Dwarf Palm tree.
In modern science, it is used to control hormone levels, prevent hair loss, manage prostate health, and reduce inflammation.
The FDA recommends Saw Palmetto as an alternative herbal treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
BPH is a condition that leads to an enlarged prostate.
Several studies show that Saw Palmetto is effective for treating symptoms of this condition, including frequent urination, shrinking the size of the prostate gland, and having trouble urinating.
Uses and benefits of Saw Palmetto
Here are six uses and benefits of Saw Palmetto that are backed up by some research.
Saw Palmetto contains antioxidants-methyl gallate and epicatechin, which prevent free radical damage.
Free radical damage may cause inflammation.
A 2015 study 1 done on obese rats with benign prostatic hyperplasia showed that saw palmetto reduced inflammation markers and lowered prostate weight.
Supports prostate health
The prostate gland produces prostatic fluid which makes up 70 percent of seminal volume.
Several studies show that Saw Palmetto supports prostate health by preventing problems like prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
A 2007 study 2 performed on lab cells showed that Saw Palmetto reduces cellular growth of prostatic cancer cells.
Yet another study 3 reports that this herbal extract may reduce inflammation and improve urination problems in individuals with BPH.
However, there are conflicting studies on its effectiveness on BPH.
A 2012 study 4 published by Cochrane showed that there were no improvements in urinary symptoms and prostate size in individuals with BPH.
Boosts testosterone levels
You have probably seen Saw Palmetto as one of the main ingredients in testosterone boosters.
Saw Palmetto lowers 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that changes testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT is an androgen hormone that gives men their male characteristics.
Therefore, Saw Palmetto increases free testosterone in the body.
Supports urinary tract function
Saw palmetto supports urinary tract function by improving urinary symptoms such as decreased urine flow, difficulty urinating and incontinences.
These symptoms are related to benign prostate hyperplasia.
A study 5 involving men aged 45 years with lower urinary tract symptoms showed that saw palmetto supplementation improved urine flow and lowered incontinence.
Prevent hair loss
Saw Palmetto balances hormones, including DHT, which is associated with male pattern baldness.
It inhibits the activity of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that changes testosterone to dihydrotestosterone(DHT)-the hormone associated with hair loss.
A 2006 study involving men with androgenetic alopecia, showed that Saw Palmetto blocks 5-alpha reductase, therefore preventing hair loss.
Low testosterone levels are associated with low sex drive.
Saw Palmetto boosts testosterone levels by preventing its breakdown.
Besides, testosterone may improve fertility in both men and women.
It is involved in sperm and egg production.
Thus, it is a myth that Saw Palmetto does nothing to women.
It regulates testosterone, prolactin, and androgen hormones in females.
How does Saw Palmetto work?
Saw Palmetto works by preventing the breakdown of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone – an androgen hormone, which makes the body hold more on its testosterone and promote the growth of the prostate gland.
This often results in benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Saw Palmetto is believed to work through the following mechanisms.
- Anti-inflammatory actions.
- Anti-oxidant actions.
- Hinders prolactin production.
- Blocks 5-alpha reductase.
Saw Palmetto and testosterone
There is a strong correlation between saw palmetto and testosterone.
It boosts the levels of free testosterone in the body.
Saw Palmetto prevents the breakdown of testosterone into DHT by reducing the activity of enzyme 5 alpha-reductase (5a-R).
5a-R facilitates the conversion of testosterone into DHT.
Testosterone is responsible for regulating energy, mood, sex drive, muscle growth, and cognition.
A study involving 40 men who were supplemented with saw palmetto for six months, showed that it reduced DHT levels; thus, promoting testosterone levels.
Side effects of Saw Palmetto
Saw Palmetto is a natural herb that has been used for many thousand years.
Their safety has not been well established; most studies say that it is safe to use.
However, there have been a few reported side effects.
A 2009 review analyzed safety data on saw palmetto use and reported the following common side effects.
- Abdominal Pain.
- Decreased libido.
Also, more severe side effects were death and cerebral hemorrhage.
These were only in isolated cases.
Here are some real users’ experiences with Saw Palmetto.
One user reported:
I got this to help with androgenic acne, and while I do think it helped with this, I had to stop due to pretty intense heart palpitations. Not sure why this herb would cause this but clearly this was not meant for my body. Proceed with caution!
According to a study, Saw Palmetto makes 9% of those taking the herb dizzy. Unfortunately, I was that 9%. This product did not work for me at all. I started to exercise and eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and that did make a big difference. My symptoms have gone down by over 30%.
Saw Palmetto affects testosterone by maintaining health T-levels in the body.
Various studies state that Saw Palmetto supports prostate health, particularly in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Additionally, it lowers the risk of developing prostate cancer by lowering DHT levels.
Research shows that DHT plays a role in the onset of prostate cancer.
Besides, this herb boosts free testosterone in the body by preventing its breakdown.
However, there are mixed reports on its effectiveness.
More human research is needed to support this claim.
Saw Palmetto is considered safe to the user; but, there are a few reported side effects.
Consult a doctor to rule out health risks.