Saw Palmetto and Benign prostatic hyperplasia.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Saw Palmetto Prostate Health
Professional Data: Saw Palmetto Prostate Health


The prostate is a walnut-sized organ that lies just below the bladder, surrounding the urethra. The function of the prostate is to enhance the motility of sperm cells by secreting a thin, alkaline fluid into the urethra. Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) are common afflictions of men over the age of 50. Prostate cancer is the leading form of cancer among men.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) describes the overgrowth of tissue. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the non-cancerous overproduction of prostate cells that result in enlargement of the prostate. This condition, which commonly afflicts men over the age of 50, can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms and increases the propensity toward bladder infections. The exact mechanism that stimulates prostatic hyperplasia is not completely understood although hormonal changes are thought to play a significant role as well as body fat.

Previous studies have shown that saw palmetto has been comparable to conventional BHP medications. However, a recent, fairly controversial study published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that saw palmetto had no effect. This study involved 225 men over the age of 49 who had moderate to severe BHP. The participants received 160 mg of a saw palmetto extract twice a day or placebo, and continued for one year. Using the American Urological Association Symptom Index, the results showed that there was no difference in symptoms between the treatment in and the placebo groups. The authors concluded that, “In this study, saw palmetto did not improve symptoms or objective measures of benign prostatic hyperplasia.”1


1. Bent S, et al. Saw Palmetto for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. NEJM. Feb 2006;354(6):557-566.