The saw palmetto is a palm-like tree, which grows in certain areas of the United States of America. This palm-like tree bears brown to black berries, and oil is extracted from the berries, which is then used for various therapeutic purposes. The berries have been a part of the diet of natives of the southeastern US for more than a hundred years. The other name given to this tree is sabal palmetto. It has proven to be beneficial in treating a number of ailments in women.
There are indeed many therapeutic uses of saw palmetto. The first benefit is to arrest hair loss. One of the predominant causes of hair loss is excessive production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). More than 98% of DHT is formed at the root of the hair. When the extracted oil is applied and massaged onto the scalp, it helps in arresting hair loss.
Women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have abnormally higher levels of testosterone. Saw palmetto berries help in treating PCOS. It reportedly also has anti-estrogenic effect and counters high estrogen levels. Another benefit is that it helps in alleviating hirsutism (growth of too much hair on the face, etc.), which is a common symptom associated with PCOS.
Saw palmetto also helps in treating acne. It is known to regulate the production of hormones, hence, it is one of the remedies for acne caused due to hormonal imbalance. However, studies are yet underway to ascertain this benefit.
One of its prominent properties is that it is diuretic in nature, and it has anti-androgen properties which help in decreasing water retention and at the same time also control blood pressure. Therefore, it has been used as a natural remedy for treating high blood pressure or hypertension, with its diuretic effect.
Beside the DHT inhibiting effect, the berries stimulate the production of the female hormone prolactin, which is known to promote breast enlargement. It is this very hormone prolactin that promotes milk production, hence, it is used by lactating women.
Although there are many benefits of saw palmetto, there are also some side effects of it. The most common side effect is a gastrointestinal problem. This side effect can be reduced if it is taken along with food. It can increase the risk of bleeding in women or also have an effect on the sex hormones. A chemical present is similar to cholesterol. High levels of this chemical in the blood is known to increase the severity of heart disease, especially in people who have previously suffered heart attacks.
Therefore, it is recommended that saw palmetto should be taken after consultation a health care professional. In case you notice any other side effects after taking it, it should be reported to your physician without any delay.