I don’t have a clue about male prostate health. I’m still trying to master all the parts of my own reproductive system, which is confusing enough. But one thing I’ve noticed about the Sarah Sexy Plants blog is the lack of male-specific medicinal plant interactions. Well no more! Tonight we talk about men’s health (and cancel out all of those abortion-inducing and uterus tonic plants…)
The Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a palm tree native to the southeastern United States (specifically along the Gulf Coast). The fruits of the tree contain the medicinal properties and were used by Native Americans to treat prostate problems, urinary issues, and as a specific male aphrodisiac. In the April 1879 issue of American Journal of Pharmacy, the use of Saw Palmetto was first described by Dr. J. B. Read. He suggested its use for coughs and to improve digestion but noted:
it increases flesh and strength. Its sedative and diuretic properties are remarkable
By 1926, Saw Palmetto was listed in the United States Dispensatory as a treatment for prostate issues, increasing sperm counts, and increasing libido.
Currently, Saw Palmetto is one of the most widely used herbal preparations for treatment of BHP (benign prostatic hyperplasia). There is conflicting evidence for efficacy of the herb: some studies have shown a statistically significant reduction in symptoms (with less side effects than the prescribed pharmaceutical drugs), others show the same outcome as the placebo control.
Still, Saw Palmetto is one of the top selling herbal supplements in the ever increasing retail demographic of alternative medicine, so it seems people are willing to forgo the claims of insufficient evidence for a relatively benign treatment option.