Saw palmetto (Serenoa serrulata)

Traditional Indications

Saw palmetto is anabolic agent, aphrodisiac, endocrine agent, diuretic, urinary antiseptic, relaxant, sedative, tonic to the male reproductive system, particularly the prostate, reduces congestive catarrhal conditions of the respiratory system. It is indicated for chronic or sub-acute cystitis, prostatic hypertrophy, catarrh of the genito-urinary tract, testicular atrophy and sex hormone disorders. It is known as the 'plant catheter' because of its tonic effect on the neck of the bladder and on the prostate. It is prescribed for debilitated conditions of the male reproductive system such as testicular atrophy, low libido and impotence. Serenoa is also traditionally believed to be effective for functional infertility in women and to increase the supply of mother's milk. The berries have a toning and soothing influence on mucous membranes throughout the body as well as an expectorant property, making this a useful remedy for colds and catarrh. It has a traditional use for asthma and bronchitis. The berries are also used to treat urinary disorders and enuresis, and are of value in all infections of the urinary tract. Serenoa is reputed to be mildly sedative to the nervous system. (1)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine Saw Palmetto is known as Ju Ye Zong. Ju Ye Zong tonifies Kidney Qi and Jing, reduces inflammation, boosts sexual drive, alleviates swollen or inflamed reproductive organs, treats infertility, expels Phlegm and supports Lung Qi to treat cough. (2)


Saw Palmetto is a natural 5 alpha reductase inhibitor. 5α-Reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs), also known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blockers, are a class of medications with antiandrogenic effects which are used primarily in the treatment of enlarged prostate and scalp hair loss. They are also sometimes used to treat excess hair growth in women and as a component of hormone therapy for transgender women. Serenoa repens inhibits the 5alpha-reductase activity of human prostate cancer cell lines without interfering with PSA expression. (3)

Saw palmetto extract is the most popular phytotherapeutic agents prescribed in Europe for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia with lower urinary tract symptoms and are commonly used in the United States in over-the-counter preparations is the most popular of these agents. A meta-analysis concludes saw palmetto is well tolerated. (4)

Saw palmetto extract does not have interactions with co-administered drugs or serious adverse events in blood biochemical parameters, suggestive of its relative safety, even with long-term intake. (5)

1. PFAF. Serenoa repens 2019.
2. Healing WRIo. Saw Palmetto (Ju Ye Zong). 2019.
3. Habib FK, Ross M, K.H. Ho C, Lyons V, Chapman K. Serenoa repens (Permixon®) inhibits the 5α-reductase activity of human prostate cancer cell lines without interfering with PSA expression. 2005;114(2):190-4.
4. Fagelman E, Lowe FC. Saw Palmetto Berry as a Treatment for BPH. Reviews in urology. 2001;3(3):134-8.
5. Suzuki M, Ito Y, Fujino T, Abe M, Umegaki K, Onoue S, et al. Pharmacological effects of saw palmetto extract in the lower urinary tract. Acta pharmacologica Sinica. 2009;30(3):227-81.



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