Saw palmetto is a small palm-like shrub found in the southeastern United States. While the small fatty dark berries have long been used for a number of male conditions, such as prostate problems, historically the major use was to fatten pigs for market.
A numbr of good-quality clinical trials now show that extracts of saw palmetto standardized to the fatty portions of berries is better than a placebo and the equivalent to the drug finasteride (Proscar) in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Like finasteride, saw palmetto prevents the conversion of testosterone into the more potent dihydrotestosterone, but it also stops the production of chemicals in the prostate that cause inflammation. Saw palmetto also contains phytoestrogens, chemicals that mimic estrogens, which may also be helpful in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy.
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