According to a new report by the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD), saw palmetto might not be as effective as we used to think for reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Many men take saw palmetto to decrease urinary symptoms associated with BPH.
Several clinical trials have shown that it is modestly effective for this use, and some studies suggest that it can be as effective as finasteride (Proscar) or tamsulosin (Flomax). But not all studies have been positive.
A 2009 meta-analysis suggests that saw palmetto might modestly reduce some measures of BPH symptoms such as nocturia, but does not significantly reduce other measures of BPH symptoms including peak urine flow.
The reason for different study results is unclear. But it might be due to different study designs or different saw palmetto products used in the studies.
The bottom line is that saw palmetto might offer modest benefit for some men with BPH symptoms. Other men may experience no benefit. However, saw palmetto is well-tolerated and safe.
NMCD says, “If a man wants to try saw palmetto, suggest taking 160 mg twice daily or 320 mg once daily of a product standardized to contain 80% to 90% fatty acids … such as ProstActive by Nature’s Way, Super Saw Palmetto by Enzymatic Therapy, or others.” However, if there is no noticeable benefit after a 1-2 month trial, it’s probably not going to help.