Many European studies have shown that saw palmetto improves symptoms
of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) , an enlargement of the prostate
that causes uncomfortable urinary symptoms as men get older. Now the
first American randomized clinical trial of saw palmetto shows that
the plant also reduces swelling in enlarged prostate tissue. The study
was published in the March issue of the peer-reviewed journal Urology,
followed by a presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American
Urological Association in Dallas, Texas from May 1-6, 1999. The study
was also chosen from among 1500 others as the feature article in the
June issue of Urology Times, a leading magazine for urologists.
During the six-month double-blind, placebo-controlled study,
researchers randomly assigned 44 men to take either 320 mg of saw
palmetto and nettle root or placebo daily. The herbal treatment led to
a modest reduction in symptoms of BPH, such as difficult urination,
incomplete emptying of the bladder, and a frequent urge to urinate.
The most novel finding in the study was saw palmetto's effect on
prostate swelling which improved to a statistically significant
degree. Using two different tests (Prostate MRI and ultrasound-guided
biopsy), researchers concluded that the most marked effects were on
the epithelial tissue, especially in the inner part of the prostate.
Although researchers have not determined exactly how saw palmetto
works, a hormonal action has been ruled out. This is especially good
news for men who have tried conventional therapies for BPH and
experienced a decline in sex drive and performance.
According to Dr. Leonard Marks, the study's lead investigator and
clinical associate professor in the Department of Urology with the
University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine, "The 21
participants who supplemented their diet with saw palmetto were
satisfied with the results. In fact, 19 elected to continue
supplementing after the study concluded. I believe urologists may now
consider saw palmetto a viable, natural, alternative treatment for
many men with BPH."