This article will explore the impressive saw palmetto benefits for both men and women, shedding light on its potential as a holistic approach towards better overall well-being.

While it is most commonly associated with promoting prostate health in men, recent studies have shown that it offers various advantages for both genders. 

From alleviating urinary tract symptoms and improving sexual function to managing hormonal imbalances and reducing hair loss, this natural remedy has gained attention as a promising solution for numerous ailments. 

Keep reading to learn more!

What is Saw Palmetto?

Saw palmetto, scientifically known as Serenoa repens, is a small palm tree, often referred to as dwarf palm tree, native to the southeastern United States, particularly Florida. It also goes by the name Sabal serrulatum.

The name saw palmetto comes from the sharp sawtooth-like spines on its stems.

It has been used for centuries by Native Americans for its medicinal properties and is now widely popular in herbal medicine.

The saw palmetto plant grows up to 10 feet in height and produces black berries that are rich in fatty acids and phytosterols. These berries have been traditionally used as a cough suppressant, a diuretic, an aphrodisiac, and a sedative.

Current research also shows they are rich in antioxidants and inflammatory compounds that can help fight disease and promote good health.

The berries are usually consumed whole but can also be dried and brewed into tea.

However, oily extracts of dried seeds are the most common form of supplement in the market.

As with any herbal remedy or supplement, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before adding saw palmetto to your routine, especially if you have any existing medical conditions or are taking other medications. They can guide dosage and potential interactions.

Closeup of saw palmetto seeds

Saw Palmetto Benefits for Men

1. Saw palmetto for prostate

One of the most well-known benefits of saw palmetto for men is its ability to support prostate health. 

So, how does Saw Palmetto work to promote prostate health? First of all, the prostate is a small, walnut-sized organ found only in males. It is an essential part of the male reproductive system, located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

The prostate gland’s primary function is to produce and secrete seminal fluid, which provides nourishment and protection to sperm cells during ejaculation.

Research suggests that saw palmetto may help treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous prostate gland enlargement that occurs in old age.

Although it’s normal, too much prostate enlargement can obstruct urine flow, resulting in urinary symptoms like frequent urination and difficulty emptying the bladder. 

Saw palmetto has been shown to work by inhibiting an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a contributing factor to prostate enlargement.

2. Saw palmetto testosterone benefits

Testosterone is a hormone primarily produced in the testes (and to a lesser extent in women’s ovaries) that plays a crucial role in developing male reproductive tissues, such as the testes and prostate gland, plus sexual functionality. 

Apart from its reproductive functions, testosterone also affects bone mass, muscle mass, fat distribution, red blood cell production, mood regulation, cognitive abilities, energy levels, and overall vitality in males. 

Studies suggest that Saw Palmetto supplementation might increase free testosterone levels by inhibiting its conversion into estrogen in a process called aromatization.

This is where the aromatase enzymes in tissues like adipose (fat) cells and the liver convert excess testosterone into estradiol – the most potent form of estrogen.

​​​​​​​Several factors contribute to hormonal imbalances leading to increased testosterone conversion to estrogen, including age, obesity, and elevated stress levels.

The good news is that taking saw palmetto extract can help keep your testosterone levels, resulting in improved energy levels, increased muscle strength, and a better sense of well-being.

In one study, a two-week supplementation of saw palmetto significantly increased testosterone levels while reducing DHT and estrogen in both low and high-dose intakes.

3. Boosts Sexual Function

Many studies have explored how saw palmetto can positively impact sexual function in men suffering from certain conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED). 

It is believed that this herb helps relax smooth muscles within blood vessels, which improves blood flow to penile tissues, thereby enhancing erections and overall sexual performance.

Also, the fact that palmetto inhibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) means increased free testosterone, which plays a vital role in male libido.

4. Anti-inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is at the root of various health conditions affecting men today. Saw palmetto’s anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation in the body, potentially benefiting men suffering from conditions like prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

Saw Palmetto Benefits for Women

While it has been traditionally used for men’s health concerns, palmetto also offers several benefits specifically for women, including:

5. Hormonal balance

Hormonal imbalance is a common issue many women face at some point in their lives. It can manifest in various ways, including irregular menstrual cycles, acne breakouts, mood swings, and PCOs. Saw palmetto may offer a natural solution to help restore hormonal equilibrium and alleviate these symptoms.

One of the primary reasons why saw palmetto promotes hormonal balance in women is its ability to inhibit the enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. 

As I mentioned above, this enzyme converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that plays a role in causing hormonal imbalances. 

By blocking this conversion process, saw palmetto helps maintain optimal testosterone levels without an excessive DHT buildup.

6. Urinary Tract Health

Women are more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to their shorter urethra, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. 

However, saw palmetto can help as it exhibits anti-inflammatory properties that may alleviate UTI symptoms such as frequent urination, pain during urination, and urgency by reducing inflammation in the urinary tract.

7. Menopause Symptom Relief

Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can happen earlier or later for some women.

As women approach menopause, their estrogen levels decline significantly. This hormonal shift often leads to various uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. 

Saw palmetto has been found to have phytoestrogenic effects, meaning it contains plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. This can help alleviate these menopausal symptoms naturally without hormonal replacement therapy.

8. Enhanced Libido

Saw palmetto may also enhance women’s libido by improving hormonal balance and reducing symptoms that hinder sexual desire, such as vaginal dryness or discomfort. 

This herb promotes a healthy hormonal environment, which can positively influence sexual wellness and satisfaction.

Fronds of saw palmetto (serenoa repens) in central florida.

Additional Saw Palmetto Benefits for Both Genders 

9. Saw palmetto hair benefits

In addition to the above commonly gender-based benefits, saw palmetto can offer remarkable benefits for hair in both males and females, including:

  • Reducing hair loss: Saw palmetto’s ability to inhibit the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can help reduce hair loss. DHT is commonly associated with male-pattern baldness and female-pattern hair loss. By blocking its production or reducing its effects on the scalp, saw palmetto may help prevent or slow down hair loss.
  • Promoting hair growth: Beyond preventing further hair loss, saw palmetto may stimulate new hair by promoting blood circulation in the scalp region. Improved blood flow ensures better delivery of nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles while aiding detoxification processes.
  • Enhances Scalp Health: A healthy scalp is crucial for robust and vibrant hair. Saw palmetto possesses antifungal properties that combat microbial infections like Malassezia furfur, which can cause dandruff or other scalp conditions impairing the normal hair growth cycle. By maintaining a balanced pH level on the scalp, saw palmetto helps create an optimal environment for healthy follicle function.
  • Strengthens Hair Strands: Weak and brittle strands are prone to breakage, leading to thinner-looking hair over time. The phytonutrients found in saw palmetto provide essential nutrients to hair follicles, promoting stronger and more resilient strands. Regular use of saw palmetto-based products can improve overall hair strength and reduce breakage.

When to take saw palmetto: morning or night?

When it comes to taking saw palmetto, one of the most common questions people ask is whether they should take it in the morning or at night. 

In order to make an informed decision, let’s explore some factors that might influence your choice.

1. Personal Preference

The first factor to consider is personal preference. Some individuals may find it easier to remember to take their supplements in the morning when they establish a routine, while others prefer to take them at night before bed. Reflect on your daily schedule and determine which option aligns better with your lifestyle.

2. Individual Symptoms

Pay attention to any symptoms you are experiencing that led you to consider taking saw palmetto in the first place. If you mainly experience urinary issues during the day, such as increased frequency or urgency, taking saw palmetto in the morning might provide more relief throughout your active hours. On the other hand, if your symptoms worsen during nighttime, causing disrupted sleep due to frequent bathroom trips, taking saw palmetto before bed could be beneficial.

3. Enhanced Absorption

Consuming supplements on an empty stomach first thing in the morning allows for better absorption, as no other substances are competing for absorption.

4. Hormone Regulation During Sleep

Since hormone regulation occurs significantly during sleep, consuming saw palmetto at night might aid in optimizing its effects on hormonal balance.

5. Supplement Interaction

Consider any other medications or supplements you are currently taking and how they may interact with saw palmetto. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances. 

6. Consistency

Regardless of whether you choose mornings or nights for saw palmetto intake, consistency is key for optimal results. Establishing a regular routine will help ensure you do not miss doses, which allows sufficient time for the herb’s effects to accumulate over time.

Usage Recommendations:

  • Consult a Healthcare Professional: Before starting any new supplement or herbal remedy, consult a qualified healthcare professional who can assess your specific needs and determine if saw palmetto suits you.
  • Follow Recommended Dosages: Saw palmetto supplements typically come in capsule or oil forms. It’s crucial to stay within the suggested dose unless advised otherwise by a healthcare expert.
  • Patience Is Key: Results from using saw Palmetto may vary among individuals due to factors such as metabolism and overall health condition. So, it’s important to be patient when taking this herbal supplement since its effects might take time to manifest fully.
  • Combine with Healthy Lifestyle Choices: While saw Palmetto may offer potential benefits, it should not replace healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress levels.

Possible Side Effects of Saw Palmetto

While Saw Palmetto is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects that may occur in some individuals.

  • Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Some individuals may experience symptoms like stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or vomiting after consuming this supplement. These symptoms are usually mild and temporary but can be bothersome for certain people. If you are new to this supplement, start with a low dose and see how your body adapts.
  • Headaches and Dizziness: Few people have reported experiencing headaches or dizziness due to taking saw palmetto supplements. These side effects are typically mild and tend to subside after discontinuing use or adjusting the dosage.
  • Allergic Reactions: While rare, allergic reactions can occur in some individuals who are hypersensitive to certain compounds present in saw palmetto supplements. Symptoms may include skin rashes, itching, swelling (particularly around the face, mouth, or throat), difficulty breathing, or chest tightness. If any signs of an allergic reaction appear after using saw palmetto products, immediate medical attention should be sought.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Saw Palmetto has been found to influence hormonal levels by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In rare cases, this could potentially lead to hormonal imbalances in both men and women who take high doses for extended periods without proper medical guidance.
  • Medication Interactions: Saw Palmetto may interact with certain medications like antiplatelet drugs, anticoagulants (blood thinners), hormone therapies, and some antibiotics. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional before starting Palmetto if you are on any prescription or over-the-counter medications.

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Final Thoughts

Saw Palmetto is a natural supplement that offers numerous benefits for both men and women, including reproductive benefits, hair growth, infection prevention, and more.

Furthermore, this herbal remedy has minimal side effects and is generally well-tolerated by most individuals.

However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure its safety and efficacy.

Nonetheless, with its wide range of potential benefits, Saw Palmetto continues to be a valuable option for enhancing the health and well-being of both men and women alike.

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