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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]


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    Comments (19)

    Edwin Bafte Sajo

    December 23, 2014


    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.



    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


      July 29, 2016


      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


      What happened and was it reversible?

      October 16, 2019

      Milions of men taking it for years without problems

      None of the side effects is permanent, plus DHT has been demonstrated not to be necessary in adults.
      If it didn’t work on you, just stop taking it.


    December 5, 2016


    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!!


      June 10, 2017

      Dont take saw palmetto

      I took saw palmetto once in the morning and once at night. Then stopped because it made me feel sick. After 4 days I still feel sick intermtantly. Any way to stop this feeling? Will it wear off?

    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.


    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.


      August 24, 2019

      whos right

      dont fully understand Bobs message ,
      why would you trust med from doc by prescription method,
      whats wrong with saw palmetto , do your research , before making
      quick judgments, know the difference from herbal to high toxic ,

    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,


    David Andrews

    November 3, 2017

    Saw Palmetto works if you can get it.

    I have been using Saw Palmetto berries in capsules for over 10 years. These last few years I found that it was not working and I had to get up and pee more often at night. A friend of mine works at a chem lab and told me that most Saw Palmetto that come thru his lab is a mixture of Saw Palmetto and other Palmetto berries. It is very expensive to test for Saw Palmetto so most sellers do not get it tested. Other Palmetto berries look the same so a mixture smells and appears to be Saw Palmetto, but may or may not be. So I doubled up on my dose and Saw Palmetto worked again. When I find a bottle that works as it used to, I try to buy a bunch of that batch. It take me 2 to 3 weeks to figure out if I have a good batch or a diluted batch. Hope this helps because Saw Palmetto really works if you can really get Saw Palmetto.


    George samanc

    December 30, 2017

    Tomato pill with saw palmetto

    Took the tomato pill which contains lipocene and saw palmetto. Have suffered pain in joints ever since. Not taking it anymore


    paul laschut

    March 30, 2018

    Saw palmeto works well

    I been used Saw palmetto for three years it works well , been used Saw palmetto from Cenovic brand, 30 caps. was for ten bucks ben use as instructed 1x2daily was working very well, for now you can’t get these anymore it’s substitute 60 caps Prostate Plus but these shit
    doesn’t work and you pay 32 dollars for nothing. Totally agree with David Andrews



    June 12, 2018

    Saw Palmetto & Libido

    I’ve begun using SP hoping to stave off the going to pee every 30-40 mins.
    Caffeine may be your friend as well as your worst enemy.
    With that said, I’ve become sexually frustrated,Fell like I need to cum all the time. My mind but my prostate even more so seems sexually hot wired.
    Anyone else feeling like this?
    Healthy 62 yr. with a slightly enlarged prostate.


    Henry Barrow

    July 23, 2019

    side effects

    I have been using Saw Palmetto for about a month. I still get up twice a night to pee and have a difficult time getting a flow, sometimes it takes almost 5 minutes to get any flow.



    November 9, 2019

    Saw Palmetto

    A good friend of mine been taken Saw Palmetto twice a day for 3 years for his prostate;
    The first year his sex drive still normal,second year he have difficulty of erection and the third year his sex drive completely gone and even with viagra he still can’t have an erection



    November 9, 2019

    Saw Palmetto works for me

    Obviously everyone is different. When I first started using saw palmetto I noticed an improvement in a few days. At one time I stopped taking it, then after a few days of re-starting again it was only a few days before I noticed improvement.
    Having said that, when I added Stinging nettle tablets to my regime I noticed even more improvement so now I take both. When I ran out of stinging nettle (impossible to obtain over the counter in Australia) symptoms started again. I ordered online from the US and once again after only a few days improvement was noticed. Saw Palmetto alone helped, taking both proved even better.
    When I did my research more than 10 years ago now, the clinical trials I read used a standard dose of 1600mg of Saw Palmetto. There was a producer in Australia that produced that dosage in a single tablet at that time , but when they stopped making it, I found another one with a similar dosage. Unfortunately they ceased production also a while ago too, and I have been unable to find a tablet dosage of 1600mg.
    The closest I found was Piping Rock 1200mg and that has done the job for me, once a day. I have taken that for about 18 months, together with a 250g Now Foods stinging nettle tablet twice a day.
    I have few enlarged prostate symptoms other than sometimes having an urgency to go. Never at night though, and I don’t have to get up early to urinate. I used to have According to my Urologist and GP my prostate is “very large”.
    So for those for whom Saw Palmetto hasn’t worked, it might be worth trying a higher dose.
    Just today I read references to dosages of 350mg in trials, but that wasn’t what I discovered in my original clinical trial research which was conducted in Germany, which was 1600mg.
    One final point, some Urologists do recommend Saw Palmetto and to quote a friend of mine’s urologist, “In my opinion all men over 50 should take Saw Palmetto”.
    I hope this information helps someone.


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