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Saw Palmetto Side Effects in Men

Are They Good or Bad?

Natural supplements for prostate health often include an ingredient called saw palmetto. Saw palmetto contains compounds that prevent testosterone from becoming DHT, a hormone related to enlarged prostate and male pattern baldness.[1] Consequently, saw palmetto should improve many symptoms of enlarged prostate and may even encourage hair growth.

Of course, any potent natural ingredient comes with a risk of negative side effects. What side effects does saw palmetto cause? And do they outweigh its positive effects? Let’s examine saw palmetto side effects in men, both the good and the not-so-good, to determine its efficacy.

Saw Palmetto: The Positive Side Effects for Men

One quality in favor of saw palmetto as a male supplement ingredient is its multiple established uses. Saw palmetto is most commonly used by men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is the medical term for a noncancerous enlarged prostate.[2] However, saw palmetto benefits several other common male health issues, including erection issues and baldness.

1. Shrinks Prostate Lining

During puberty, DHT exposure encourages cells in the prostate gland to grow and multiply rapidly. While this is necessary to mature the prostate in young men, as men age DHT keeps stimulating prostate cell growth unnecessarily. Consequently, doctors believe DHT is a major contributor to enlarged prostate.[3]

At least one saw palmetto study showed this extract shrinks the actual prostate gland.[4] But, most saw palmetto studies conclude it actually shrinks prostate lining, not the gland itself.[5]

For instance, one study measured changes in men’s prostate tissues after 6 months taking 320 mg saw palmetto per day. Saw palmetto reduced swelling in prostate epithelium, the inner lining of the prostate gland which surrounds the urethra.[6]

Interestingly, researchers concluded these effects occurred without altering testosterone or DHT levels. Nevertheless, scientists believe shrinking prostate lining is a reliable positive side effect of saw palmetto.

2. Improves Urination

When saw palmetto shrinks prostate lining, the most pronounced effects are an improvement in urinary flow speed and a reduced need to urinate frequently at night. These are also two of the most common symptoms of BPH, and they often decrease quality of life greatly.

Saw palmetto trials produce mixed results on urinary flow. In one study, a 320 mg daily dose saw palmetto reduced need for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips by 45% and increased urine flow rate by 50%.[7] But, another study using an identical dosage showed no difference between saw palmetto and placebo.[8]

Despite these mixed results, many scientists promote saw palmetto as the most effective natural treatment for urinary symptoms related to enlarged prostate.[9] Some studies even conclude saw palmetto improves these symptoms nearly as well as the prescription medication Finasteride.[10]

3. Decrease Erection Problems Associated with Enlarged Prostate

Unfortunately, enlarged prostate also contributes somewhat to erectile dysfunction. Luckily, saw palmetto has the potential to improve erectile function.[11] This gives saw palmetto an advantage over many enlarged prostate medications, which can worsen erectile dysfunction.[3]

In a 2012 study, 82 men took 320 mg saw palmetto daily for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, sexual function scores improved by almost 10 points on a standardized assessment scale.[12]

However, not all men experience improved erections after taking saw palmetto.[1] Still, these results are encouraging for men whose enlarged prostate affects their sexual performance.

4. Reduce Male Pattern Baldness

Lastly, saw palmetto offers hope to men suffering from male pattern baldness, particularly young men who don’t want the sexual side effects of prescription treatments.

Two trials show saw palmetto produces results for a significant percentage of men. After 2 years of 320 mg saw palmetto, 38% of men in one study had increased hair growth.[13] In another study, 60% of men responded to treatment with improved hair growth.[14]

These results indicate saw palmetto isn’t a magic bullet against male pattern baldness. But, saw palmetto may be a good first option to utilize before trying more drastic methods to decrease baldness.

Potential Negative Side Effects of Saw Palmetto

Knowing saw palmetto produces numerous benefits, you may be surprised to learn it’s associated with very few side effects.

The most common saw palmetto side effects are gastrointestinal issues. These include upset stomach, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea.[5] However, in many saw palmetto studies, side effects occurred just as commonly in those taking the placebo as those taking saw palmetto.[7]

Because saw palmetto likely acts as a 5-alpha-aromatase inhibitor, men sometimes experience side effects related to alterations in sex hormone levels. Shifts in testosterone and DHT can result in lowered libido, testicular discomfort, and greater difficulty producing an erection.[1] Similarly, saw palmetto is known to have some anti-estrogen effects.[15]

Other side effects attributed to saw palmetto include headache and dizziness.[5]

Saw palmetto possibly increases risk of bleeding, especially in those with bleeding disorders or who are on anti-coagulant medications. For this reason, experts recommend being cautious about taking saw palmetto before surgery or dental work.[1]

Saw Palmetto’s Side Effects: The Bottom Line for Men

Because years of research haven’t revealed any major side effects caused by saw palmetto, this plant extract seems like a good option for men who want to reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate or male pattern baldness.

To make sure you get the most effective saw palmetto extracts, look for fat-soluble saw palmetto extracts because they absorb best.[1] And, be sure to verify any saw palmetto extract contains beta sitosterol, the saw palmetto extract component which promotes prostate health.[16]

    References

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    Comments (9)

    Edwin Bafte Sajo

    December 23, 2014

    ORDERING SAW PALMETTO EXTRACT

    I have been diagnosed with prostrate enlargement and on most nights, I have painful urination. I have seen the side effects of taking avodat and other medicines. In view of this, I want to place order for the SAW PALMETTO EXTRACT which I could take for a period of six months to help me.

    Reply

    vk

    July 21, 2016

    DO NOT take this herb if you want to preserve your manhood

    This stupid herb nearly destroyed my life. DONT EVER mess with your DHT by any means even natural methods unless you want to go impotent

    Reply

      July 29, 2016

      Agreed

      Yes I myself felt the same when i used to take this herb, it reduced my sex drive…

      September 18, 2016

      What did you do?

      Hi there. If you say it nearly messed you up, what did you do to reverse any damage? Not sure if I am noticing problems but my sleep is not good ?? Best !

      October 16, 2016

      Jwinklrg@yahoo.com

      What happened and was it reversible?

    Henry

    December 5, 2016

    henripollard@gmail.com

    I have been using this product for less than (2), two weeks now, and I am experiencing difficulties sleeping. I see here, from another post, I am not alone with my sleep deprivation!!

    Reply

    Bob Van

    December 14, 2016

    Prostate Health

    I have been taking Saw Palmetto 450 MGS twice a day. I am 67. It is by the Sundown Corp.
    For a year, I have taken this product. I think it is worthless. I had to result in going to a Urologist for the many peeing trips in a 24 hour period. I take Tamsulosin twice a day to help urine flow, and oxybutynin er 10 MG once a day, For urine urgency to pee. The OXYBUTNIN is helping. The Tamsulosin is SO SO. I have been having this problem for 4 years. Taking all those advertised prostate products is dangerous and most are worthless. See a Urologist if it is becoming a bathroom problem.

    Reply

    Bob Van

    December 14, 2016

    Prostate Health

    I had a friend who had his prostate removed entirely. His prostate was removed because of cancer cells. Needless to say. He has a fair sex life and no bathroom trips. The prostate regulates something in the body. I have yet to discover what it regulates. Without Tamsilosin and OXYBUTYNIN ER 10 MG per day. I would have no life. Before these drugs, I had to pee all day long constantly. My Urologist has yet to fix the problem, I have had this peeing problem for 4 years.

    Reply

    ricky t

    January 25, 2017

    saw palmetto

    i have been taking the herb at my doctors advise, for the most part i am not running to the bathroom often and even at night, i have very little urgency issues but i have had them. i have had exams by my doctor things seem to be alright, my big problem is ED,

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    Karthik

    April 26, 2017

    My personal experience

    Hi there, I am using (450mg per day) saw palmetto for the past 2 weeks. I used it (900mg per day) for a month last year and stopped it because of my observations.

    1. Decreased libido: My sex drive went down drastically. It’s almost like i am desensitized. In general I am sexually very active and when i started taking this I am surprised by what it did to me. I didn’t face erectile dysfunction though. But when I noticed the difference, I stopped taking the supplement to confirm if it is the side effect of taking saw palmetto. And hell yeah it is! Once I stopped, my libido went back to normal. When I started taking the supplement again, my libido went down. Can’t comment on long term effects and sperm count.

    2. Reduced hair fall: I used it only for a month and I noticed that my hair fall reduced by 70-90%. I am amazed by the effect. In my case the hair fall is only due to male pattern baldness. From my understanding, it can slow down the hair fall, but you need a parallel and alternate strategy for stimulating new hair growth. The hair fall will be back once you stop taking the supplement.

    3. Muscle growth: I am currently working on bodybuilding. I can see the decrease in the energy levels when I am on the supplement, when I hit the gym. I feel it has a negative effect on muscle growth. But two weeks is too early to comment on that and last time when I took the supplement I was not working out.

    4. Urination: When I am on supplement, the frequency of the urination increases. I am not a guy who usually wakes up in the night for urination, so observed no effect in this area.

    After observing the side effects last time, I tried alternate way to stop hair fall and failed terribly. I am 28 now and my hairline receded to the limit and it is currently at a point where badness is inevitable, if I don’t do stop hair fall immediately. Since my libido is on the higher side, I think I can take the hit. I started supplement again with reduced dosage, while hoping that technology will come up with a solution soon. Hope this helps and please share your experience if you tried it out.

    Reply

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