Berries from the saw palmetto plant have medicinal properties that make them useful in treating men suffering from prostate conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate infections. Other potential applications include treating asthma, bronchitis, migraines, sore throats and colds. Before you use the herb to treat any medical condition, first consult with a medical practitioner knowledgeable on its uses and effectiveness.
You can buy saw palmetto in many supplemental forms, depending on your preferences. If you like capsules, look for a product that uses a liposteric extract standardized to contain between 85 percent and 95 percent sterols and fatty acids, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports. You can also find liquid tinctures or make a tea. However, the effectiveness of tinctures remains unknown and the main active ingredients in the herb do not dissolve in water so tea may have little medicinal benefit. Consult with your doctor before using saw palmetto to improve your health.
Treating benign prostatic hyperplasia stands as the most well-known and well-regarded use of saw palmetto, so recommended dosing information is based on that use. Men with BPH can take saw palmetto supplements contains 160 mg of the herb twice daily or take one daily dose of 320 mg per day, MedlinePlus reports. You should not self-treat BPH with saw palmetto. Always visit with a doctor first for a proper diagnosis and guidance on how to use the herb.
Most people who take saw palmetto experience no side effects, and in those who do the effects typically are mild. Known side effects of the herbal remedy include headaches, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. In addition, some men have complained of impotence while using saw palmetto. However, the number of men registering the complaint was no more than in those who were given a sugar pill in clinical research, MedlinePlus advises. Before using saw palmetto, consult with a knowledgeable doctor who can advise you of potential side effects.
Saw palmetto may interact with medications you already take, so always go over all prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as herbal supplements before using it. In particular, the herb may affect how the drug finasteride -- used to treat BPH -- works in the body. It also can affect your blood-clotting abilities and may intensify the effects of anticoagulant and antiplatelet medications, the University of Maryland Medical Center. Finally, do not take saw palmetto is you also take birth-control pills because the herb acts similarly to the hormone estrogen and may make the contraceptives less effective.
Because of how saw palmetto acts in the body, you should not use it if you have certain medical conditions. Its similarity to estrogen makes it unsafe for women who either pregnant or breastfeeding. It also may interfere with how your body absorbs iron. Because it your blood may not clot as quickly when you use it, never take saw palmetto when scheduled to undergo a surgical procedure. Before you take saw palmetto discuss it with a doctor familiar with your health.