Saw palmetto is a palm-like plant whose berries are used as a natural treatment for conditions such as enlarged prostate. In addition, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center, saw palmetto may also decrease inflammation and boost immunity. By reducing an enlarged prostate gland, saw palmetto may also impart secondary benefits to other organs of your body, including the kidneys. Check with your physician before using any herbal supplement.
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The berries of the saw palmetto plant are used to make extracts, capsules, tea and tinctures that are available at your local health food store. The primary use of this herb, according to MedlinePlus, is to decrease the size of an enlarged prostate gland. This condition, also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH, is a common condition in older men that causes the prostate gland to enlarge. Saw palmetto is also used to treat colds, coughs and other respiratory conditions, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support these uses.
Prostate Disease and Your Kidneys
Prostate disease, according to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, generally occurs in men over the age of 70. As the prostate gland becomes enlarged, it can impair the functioning of surrounding organs and structures, including the bladder and urinary tract. If the prostate enlarges enough to place pressure on a portion of the urinary tract, you're not able to properly empty your bladder. This can lead to infection of the urinary tract and, subsequently, the kidneys. Impaired urinary functioning can also lead to the development of kidney stones.
Saw Palmetto and the Kidneys
Saw palmetto, according to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, appears to impair the production of a form of testosterone that can cause the prostate to enlarge. The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that research supporting this effect is mixed, but adds that it appears that saw palmetto may help relieve urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate. This can help reduce urinary frequency and help improve your ability to empty your bladder fully. As a result of this urinary benefit, your risk of developing a kidney infection or kidney stones may be decreased.
Saw palmetto, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, is considered relatively safe to use as directed by the manufacturer. Side effects of using this herb, although rare, can include stomach upset and headache. Saw palmetto also has natural blood-thinning properties and can impair or increase the effect of blood-thinning medications. Saw palmetto can also affect your body's ability to absorb iron, and it can mimic the effects of hormones in your body. Check with your doctor before taking saw palmetto, and use this herb only under medical supervision.