Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate, the walnut-sized gland responsible for producing the liquid component of semen. There are four types of prostatitis, two of which are caused by a bacterial infection. Symptoms include urinary problems, increased or painful urination or blood in your semen or urine. Treatment depends on the type of prostatitis you have but may include antibiotics or pain relievers. The herb saw palmetto may also help to alleviate urinary symptoms, but evidence showing it can treat the condition itself is lacking.
Saw palmetto is a small palm native to the southeastern coast of the United States. Its fruits are used to make herbal supplements, which are commonly used to treat conditions of the prostate, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia. AIts fruit are rich in fatty acids and phytosterols, substances that may reduce inflammation by inhibiting the production of inflammatory chemicals such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins.
Saw palmetto may be taken in capsules or as tea. It is also available as a powder and as an herbal tincture. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests taking 160 mg of this herb in capsule form twice daily to alleviate urinary problems. Get confirmation from your doctor that this dosage is appropriate for you.
The results of a study published in the March 2010 issue of "Urologia Internationalis" show that saw palmetto ameliorates symptoms associated with chronic prostatitis. However, it was not as effective as a formulation that combined saw palmetto with selenium and lycopene. Data published in the June 2009 issue of the "International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents" show that saw palmetto improved the efficacy of antibiotic treatment in patients with chronic bacterial prostatitis. However, the saw palmetto was combined with Urtica dioica, quercitin and curcumin, so it is difficult to say whether saw palmetto would have the same effect when used alone.
Side Effects and Contraindications
RxList notes that saw palmetto is likely safe for most people but it may cause side effects including dizziness, nausea, constipation and diarrhea. It may also reduce the blood's ability to clot properly, so avoid using it if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking anticoagulants like warfarin. There is a small risk that it may cause liver or pancreas problems in some people.