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.
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.